Why Our Kids Don't Need the "Little g" Gospel

Erin Davis

Erin Davis | 10.01.13
Twitter: @ErinGraffiti


I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).

There are all kinds of little "g" gospels. These are messages we preach to ourselves citing the (false) reasons God will surely love and accept us.

  • There's the gospel of association: "I'm a Christian because I was raised in a Christian home."
  • There's the gospel of achievement: "God loves me because I do so much for Him."
  • There's the gospel of comparison: "I am holy because I'm not as messed up as she is."

These are all false gospels. Association, achievement, and comparison will never give us victory over our sin.

There is a little "g" gospel that is particularly dangerous and tempting as we parent. It's the gospel of goodness. "God will love me if I am a very, very good boy or girl."

But there is another little "g" gospel that is particularly dangerous and tempting as we parent. It's the gospel of goodness. "God will love me if I am a very, very good boy or girl."

We preach this gospel to our children when we give them the impression that church is about sitting quietly through a sermon. We do it when we try to spackle over our own junk whenever we head into church or gather with other Christians. We do it when we reduce the Bible down to a list of don'ts. We do it when we believe the lie that parenthood is about raising well-behaved children rather than radicals for Christ.

When Paul wrote this first letter to the church in Corinth, he wanted to get one thing straight—there was only one gospel he cared to preach. It was the only gospel with any power after all. It's Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Jesus' death on the cross is the only way you and your kids can:

  • have power over sin.
  • be reconciled to God.
  • live holy lives in a corrupt and godless generation.
  • be salt and light to your lost neighbors and friends.

The good boy/good girl gospel will never get you or your kids there. Only Jesus Christ and Him crucified ever can.

The good boy/good girl gospel will never get you or your kids there. Only Jesus Christ and Him crucified ever can.

I realize there are levels and ranges of spiritual maturity with our kids and grandkids. I'm not advocating you show your two-year-old The Passion of the Christ or try to explain propitiation to your preschooler. But I think Paul's creed is a good one: I am here to preach Christ and Him crucified. No little "g" gospel will work instead. The message my children need to hear me preaching most often is that Jesus paid the price for their sin. His love and acceptance of them is not rooted in their ability to be good.

As we seek to influence children who know Christ and ultimately devote our lives to Him, let's seek to preach the gospel of grace, not goodness.

Topics: Relationship with God


  1. How I echo this message! BEing the mom of seven grown children, I realize now to my great regret that I focused way too much on the law and not on grace. My children have the head knowledge, but unfortunately not the heart knowledge. By His grace , I continue to daily pray they will desire to abide in Him and HIs word.
    posted by kathy
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 8:07 am
  2. Thank you, thank you, Erin!! Your presentation of the gospel could not be more simply and accurately shared...and how we allow that precious gospel to be lived through our lives through HIS grace and not our goodness! What a wonderful Savior!!
    posted by Ann Bollinger
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 9:34 am
  3. Amen and Amen! His grace is sufficient.

    Blessings upon blessings to you and yours!

    posted by Marie
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 10:09 am
  4. Thank you!! I am posting this to our children's ministry page. I think the tone of the article also applies to teaching in classes. Kids are taught and rewarded for "being good" and personal goodness is the easiest lie in the book to believe as far as false beliefs for salvation. Thank you so much for this article.
    posted by Sheila Gosney
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:13 pm
  5. "We do it when we believe the lie that parenthood is about raising well-behaved children rather than radicals for Christ."
    Wow, Erin, this quote really hit me... I am raising 2 very well-behaved boys, but am I raising radicals for Christ? I will be praying about this. Thank you!
    posted by Sharon
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm
  6. Amen...amen...AMEN!! Morality is NOT Christianity... oh, how we need to be reminded again and again of this.

    Thank you, Erin!
    posted by Carrie
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm
  7. There's also the Little "g" that goes something like this: Jesus loves you & wants to be your best friend, so if you ask Him in to your heart, he will give you a home in heaven instead of hell!" No sense of the gravity of our sin, no talk of the perfect substitute & no cross, no empty tomb!
    posted by Sharan
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 9:52 pm
  8. Great insight! I think there are two more little "g" fallacies I see. 1. association - I am saved because I belong to the right church, and 2. God loves me better than others who aren't "right" in their interpretations of scripture.
    posted by CCR
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 10:50 pm
  9. This exact exact topic had been in the forefront of my mind for many days in a row. Thank you, dear Erin, for sharing.

    I would really like more input on this conversation- where do you suppose this intersects with training up a child in the way he should go/ or more specifically, teaching a child to do "right from wrong?" I have had extreme thoughts of, "why even try to moralize my child? Following rules can't save her." But that doesn't seem right either.

    I just need to keep shedding more and more LIGHT (God's Word) on the subject until it becomes clear.
    posted by Sarah M
    on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm
  10. This is exactly the thoughts I was having when I first read this post yesterday morning, Sarah! Where is the balance in raising our preschoolers, especially? Can someone give us practical ways that this looks in parenting? Maybe it's one of those things that can't be taught except by being led by the Spirit in every interaction with our kids, but some practical tips as to how this looks in our parenting would be very helpful. Thanks, Erin; I always appreciate your insights.
    posted by Wendy M.
    on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 6:52 am
  11. "We do it when we believe the lie that parenthood is about raising well-behaved children rather than radicals for Christ. " This is not an either-or proposition. We cannot radically follow if we're not radically obedient. There isn't room for rebellion in the Kingdom.
    posted by Rebecca
    on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 8:51 am
  12. Great word of encouragement. Filled with precious truth for our day. God bless you.
    Our youngest turned 30 last April and we taught our three children to be passionate followers of God first while raising them in Chile and Brazil. On a cassette a million years ago we heard that the labels of good child/bad child would not produce godly children, so we eliminated them. We made our focus to teach and model for them how to "seek first God's Kingdom". Our kids as PK's and MK's and their spouses have passionate and serving hearts in the midst of their own life struggles. Some are paid to be full-time in church work and the others seem to volunteer all their free time to church work. As blessed parents and grandparents I'll repost your blog article it on my FB page with the hopes that your voice will bless my "friends'
    posted by Mark Schollaert
    on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 11:33 am
  13. Amen! I'm glad to see Tim Challies picked this up ... a worthy read. We need the Grace of our "big G" God ... nothing less.
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm
  14. Wendy M,

    I shudder to dish out much parenting advice, as I am very much learning as I go! But I became convicted when I found myself constantly helping my son pray that God would help him be good that day. Certainly as God molds us and changes us our behavior will change, but that was occupying too much of our prayer life. I've explained to him that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control all come from God and He can ask God to help him with these things any time. But now I try to also help him pray for other things including giving thanks and praying for others instead of asking God to help him have a good day so often.

    I also don't shy away from talking to them about Jesus' death on the cross even though they are very little. They don't have to understand every part of what Jesus did for them. (I don't understand it all either!) but I want them to be very familiar with the story.

    I love The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. I think it presents Jesus' sacrifice in a way that is both deep and digestible. We read it every night. I highly recommend it to all parents.

    I hope this is helpful. I'd love to hear how other parents teach the Gospel to their kiddos as well.

    Grace and Peace!

    Erin Davis
    posted by Erin Davis
    on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 7:43 am
  15. Came here from challies.com too, so blessed that I felt convicted and shared the gospel to my 5-year-old daughter (who has special needs). I don't know if she understood but yeah, I agree with Sarah M's comment above that we just need to be diligent in impressing the Truth on our children's heart everyday (Deut 6:6-7). Thank you, your article has ministered to me :)
    posted by Chame Abbey
    on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 8:00 am
  16. I love this, Erin. It's such an important message. It's one I need to hear often. Thank you.
    posted by Jennifer@SurprisingJoy
    on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 10:28 am
  17. I do completely agree with you but feel the need to add that well trained children who have had help learning self control from intentional parents will much more easily accept scriptural truths. If they have learned to respect their parents' authority and not rebel, they will more easily be guided by the Holy Spirit. Training our children in obedience, with grace, sets the stage for their relationship with Christ as they learn to submit to His Lordship over their lives.
    We all want that, don't we?
    posted by Susan
    on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 11:53 am
  18. I'd just like to pass on another way to help spread the gospel and it's simply this:-

    Include a link to an online gospel tract (e.g. www.freecartoontract.com/animation) as part of your email signature.

    An email signature is a piece of customizable HTML or text that most email applications will allow you to add to all your outgoing emails. For example, it commonly contains name and contact details - but it could also (of course) contain a link to a gospel tract.

    For example, it might say something like, "p.s. you might like this gospel cartoon ..." or "p.s. have you seen this?".
    posted by Henry
    on Friday, June 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm

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