VBS season, Child Conversion, and Baptisms

The visible church today is seeing a flood of false Christian adults. They profess Christ, but either by lack of fruit, a sinful walk, or outright eventual repudiation, in many sad cases it becomes obvious they never possessed Him.

One place that false conversions caneasily happen is with children. And VBS is the most dangerous season of all. Wikipedia gives a history of VBS, known as Vacation Bible School:

Vacation Bible School (VBS) is a specialized form of religious education which focuses on children. Churches usually hold the week-long events during the summer, though the lengths of such programs may vary, and they are sometimes held during other times of the year. he origins of Vacation Bible School can be traced back to Hopedale, Illinois in 1894. Sunday school teacher D. T. Miles, who also was a public school teacher, felt she was limited by time constraints in teaching the Bible to children. So, she started a daily Bible school to teach children during the summer. The first Bible school enrolled forty students and lasted four weeks. …

Today, many churches run their own Vacation Bible School programs without being under the umbrella of a national organization. Some churches opt to use themed curriculum programs from their respective denominations or independent publishing houses which provide easy preparation and include marketing tools. Modern programs usually consist of a week-long program of religious education which may employ Bible stories, religious song, arts and crafts, skits, or puppet shows which cater toward elementary school-aged children.

However either in sincere love for Christ and a desire to see people saved, or due to outright deception due to worldly church growth strategies, some churches are quick to accept a child’s profession in Christ and they quickly baptize them thereafter- declaring them saved. Many VBS volunteers, without knowing the devastating consequences of a false profession, at the end of a VBS session with children, simply ask a few superficial questions such as “Do you want to go to heaven when you die?” or “Do you accept Jesus into your heart?” and then declare the child converted and even write the date into the Bible. Baptisms quickly follow, with pastors trumpeting the “success” on social media such as Facebook with lots of Woo-hoos, PTL’s, and exclamation marks.

These children grow up believing they are truly saved, yet by the time they are adults, have not borne fruit, aren’t growing in knowledge of the grace of Jesus Christ, have no godly sorrow over sin, care not for personal holiness etc. Some of them go away from the faith when they become teens or young adults, only to come back in their late 20s or early 30s to “rededicate their lives to Christ.” As Peters says in his new teaching, he believes for most of these people, the rededication is actually the conversion.

Here is a wonderful teaching from Justin Peters on the “A Biblical and Theological Understanding of Childhood Conversion”. He admits that the teaching goes against the grain of common practice. However, when he shows from scripture why it’s wise to wait in declaring a person saved, especially children, the clarity of the teaching becomes apparent and foundationally attractive.

Many of you have sent me messages and emails concerning your children, asking questions about baptism, home devotionals, and VBS. I’m grateful that the Lord led me to this wonderful resource and I happily pass it along to you.

Do Not Hinder Them: A Biblical and Theological Understanding of Childhood Conversion

The link is the first time Pastor Peters delivered this teaching, he said, and he has since honed it into a book, upcoming for publication. Be on the lookout for the book. The link brings you to an hour and 21 minutes’ teaching, but the first few minutes are recommendations of other books and the end is a Q&A. Peters as always is humble, kind, and delivers his teaching in a quiet but scripturally persuasive manner. If you as a parent have questions about the credibility of your child’s conversion, especially during this energetic VBS season when child conversion is at the forefront of church activity, then by all means please check it out.