Andy Robb makes the case for children being exposed to the same teaching and experience of the Holy Spirit as adults.
I recognise that the heading to this article might seem a bit frivolous but my observations of church over the past 35 years have led me to the conclusion that it reflects a reality that I’d like to address.
Having been baptised in the Holy Spirit early in my Christian life, my wife Jane and I didn’t think twice about introducing our children to everything we had experienced. The Holy Spirit had so radically impacted us that we were keen that our son and daughter would also ‘taste and see that the Lord is good’. Taking it as a given that what we shared with our children was tailored to their age and understanding we set no limit on when or how they might experience the fullness of God.
Reflecting on this years later they both said that growing up in this environment of expectation laid the foundation for living a Spirit-filled life as normal.
To give you an amusing example, when our daughter was young she was talking to a school friend about whether they spoke another language. In all innocence, she said that she did - she spoke in tongues!
My point is this. Children are far more open to the things of God than they are sometimes given credit for. I thank God for so many Christian ministries that encourage children to embrace the work and person of the Holy Spirit but I would suggest that this is not always the case in the local church.
Why churches miss out children
One reason could be that this has not been the experience of the adults so it’s not an expectation they have for the children in their church. Not a criticism, just an observation.
Another could simply be the concern that exposing children to the Holy Spirit might be fraught with problems.
- What if they were then open to demonic deception?
- What if they started praying for the sick at school and this got them into trouble?
- What if they don’t have the maturity to handle the operation of the power of God in their lives?
My answer to these questions would be the same as it would with regard to an adult being filled with the Holy Spirit. When any Christian receives this experience, God knows full well that there is still much work to be done in our lives. We are a work in progress. But maturity isn’t just an age thing. Being filled with the Holy Spirit means we are empowered to live in God’s strength, not ours. He will help us.
Children are assailed and assaulted by all manner of pressures in the natural that don’t originate from God but with the Holy Spirit’s enabling they can stand firm in his supernatural power.
Being filled with the Holy Spirit isn’t just about praying in tongues, although doing so is beneficial for a number of reasons. It’s also about receiving the wisdom of God to enable a child to cut through the noise of the world. We can add to this discernment. Children can also draw upon the gift of faith when the impossible seems just that.The ability to speak from heaven’s perspective words of prophecy or knowledge will help their friends to see that God is real and that he loves them. And yes, healing the sick is not just for grown-ups. In fact, I would suggest that children don’t often have the unbelief that sometimes hinders adults in this area.
It might seem a bit if a stretch to cite the biblical account of when Jesus’ disciples attempted to hinder children from approaching him but I do think it has something to say to us about the place of children in the Kingdom of God and their ability to encounter Him in all His fullness.
Can I just add into the mix the fact that children are no strangers to the supernatural realm. Consider the popularity of a certain fictional school of wizardry and witchcraft. If we are happy for children to be exposed to this form of the supernatural - and personally I’m not - we should be equally comfortable with them being taught about the Holy Spirit.
To facilitate this, my encouragement would be to create environments in which children can experience the Holy Spirit in all his fullness, be that at home or in a church setting. As we entrust our children to God in this way our role then becomes that of journeying with them as they grow in a lifestyle of partnering with the Holy Spirit.