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Jared Kennedy: I believe the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” can be a dangerous way of calling someone to faith. Here's why.

Editor’s Note: Sharing the gospel with our children is an extremely critical task and the language we us to communicate the good news to them is also vitally important. This article offers an alternative view to a very traditional method of evangelism. We encourage you to share your thoughts and insights in the comment section below to help create a valuable discussion on this kingdom issue. 

Your child lies in her snuggly, warm bed and says, “Yes, Daddy.  I want to ask Jesus into my heart.”  You lead her in “the prayer” and hope that it sticks.  You spend the next ten years questioning if she really, really meant it.  Puberty hits, and you only have more questions.  She turns away from faith.  You spend the next ten years praying that she will come to her senses.  What went wrong?

Of course, there is no way to guarantee that an early acceptance of the gospel will stick, and parents should not feel defeated when their adolescents question or even rebel against what they have been taught from a young age.  However, we can be careful to avoid language that would give our children a false understanding of the gospel or a false impression about their own condition.  If you’ve grown up in a church setting, you have probably heard the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” a thousand times—at evangelistic meetings or at the end of impassioned sermons.  Perhaps you have seen it modeled as part of a gospel presentation.  I have come to believe that the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” can be a dangerous way of calling someone to faith.  Here are a few reasons why:

1. This kind of figurative language is not appropriate for most children.

Little children think literally, and they can be confused (or even frightened) at the prospect of asking Jesus into their hearts.  Does Jesus reside in my blood-pumping organ?  Does he live in the upper or lower ventricle?

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Jared Kennedy

Jared Kennedy

Jared Kennedy is the husband of Megan and the father of three girls-Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He leads SojournKids as Family Pastor at Sojourn Community Church, a multi-campus congregation in Louisville, KY.

Jared on ChurchLeaders   Jared's Website

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