By Dawn Hill

The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Charles Spurgeon

One of the greatest privileges and blessings I have as a parent is to share the gospel with my children and to have meaningful moments of Biblical discipleship. Though it is not always picture perfect, there have been numerous opportunities to talk about Jesus, the cross, sin, repentance, and eternal life. There have been conversations with our seven-year-old daughter about reading the Bible, the importance of prayer, the facets of worship, and life lessons with Scriptural application. I would not trade these moments for anything.

When my daughter was three years old, I can recall her laying on prayer requests during intercessory prayer gatherings, lifting her hands while listening to radical worship music, and marching around as my shadow while I paced back and forth in prophetic declarations. This was during our time in the hyper charismatic movement. Personal experience was elevated, and I have no doubt that she would have gone down the same path had it not altered course. Over the past several years, things turned out much different than what I had expected or anticipated, but the changes have been for the better. This is not to say that I discourage her from lifting her hands in worship to God or in praying for others. Rather, I encourage her to return to the Word of God as the final authority for understanding God’s ways and instruction while sharing our need for the gospel of Jesus Christ. We never outgrow needing to hear the gospel.

I reflect on this in light of a children’s ministry called Core Kids, an offshoot from a women’s discipleship group, The Core Group. In order to be a Core Kid, the mother must be a member of The Core Group. I recently spent time watching some episodes directed towards children who are part of this group and the teachings being presented to the children. Some of these episodes have corresponding printable interactive workbook pages and journal pages covering topics such as breaking witchcraft and hearing a word from God. Monthly zoom meetings for these kids called Nights of Fire are held, and declarations that a children’s revival movement are being proclaimed in association with this group.

From what has been stated by the leader of the Core Group, the children are casting out demons, speaking in tongues, and rushing the stage to praise and to worship the Lord. They are laying on the platform crying and lifting their hands. They’re identified as being radical, and they are encouraged to lead now at their age, citing Isaiah 11:6 for confirmation.

When watching the teaching episodes for these children, I observed some things worth mentioning. I noted the teaching of the Law from the Old Testament without the presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In one of the videos dealing with breaking witchcraft, the children were told they were forgiven of their participation with things such as tarot cards, objects of witchcrafts, and horoscopes. Yet there was no call to repentance for sin, no mention of the cross and the need for redemption. In other words, there was no good news. The thought occurred to me that perhaps a young person watched this video and had no understanding of why the things mentioned were a sin against God. What if they did not even ask God to forgive them, but the leader is telling them they are forgiven without personal repentance? This gives a false assurance of salvation and reconciliation without true repentance.

Personal testimonies from the leader were shared without the gospel being presented. I understand that we can be encouraged by other’s stories and testimonies of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and grace. At the same time, we must acknowledge that our personal testimony is not the gospel. People are not saved by our personal testimony. They are saved by hearing the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). They are saved by hearing the proclamation of the gospel, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the atonement of their sins.

The leader encouraged the children listening that they are to be “all in for God.” I wondered if the children knew what that meant, and if they believed “all in” meant having radical emotions and experiences. Does all in mean claims of casting out demons and prophesying? Does all in mean waving flags and jumping up and down with passion and enthusiasm? Does being all in mean that you blindly follow the leader without question? What happens to these young people when they feel nothing or the hype fades? Will they have lasting fruit testifying of Christ?

I am going to say some things that may spark frustration for those who disagree, and I mean no ill will or malice in saying these things. As a mother, I am thankful my daughter is no longer in this type of environment with this type of influence. Though I was not part of the Core Group, I was associated with similar beliefs and practices. As a mother, it saddens me to hear children hearing the Law apart from the gospel. Yes, our children need to understand the Law of God found in Scripture because they are sinners. Our children are not saved because we take them to church. They are born again when they receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. From there, they need proper Biblical discipleship within the church and within the home.

As adults, we need to understand the Law because it places a mirror before our face to show us our need for Christ. Having said that, if all one hears is the Law, then all one hears is legalism. You and I and our children need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, without apology and without compromise. This is the good news to the bad news of being a Law breaker. Our children are not someone else’s deliverer. Our children need to know the true Deliverer and as believers, they are to testify of Him for salvation of souls. Those who have been truly delivered by Christ Jesus from the domain of darkness will desire to walk in God’s ways and to obey His Word, not out of obligation but out of love for God.

My concern in these types of movements is that a superhero mentality is created to claim power and authority leading to pride, while using the name of Jesus for validation of the message. My concern is that emotional hype and experience are elevated and used as the litmus test for true passion for God, and those who are not as radical are called spiritually dead. My concern is that false converts are being manufactured, an eternal consequence that is too important not to voice these concerns. At the core of our Christian faith is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and though I hope my daughter unashamedly lifts her hands to God when meditating on His goodness and holiness, raised hands and outward expressions of zeal without knowledge will not mark her as a believer. That work lies in the power of God and the finished work of Christ on the cross, and that is sufficient.

Listen to this episode of The Lovesick Scribe podcast, discussing this topic in more detail: The Lovesick Scribe Podcast: A Core Problem with the Core Kids Ministry on Apple Podcasts.

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