“Oh Snap.”

Those were the words I heard last night in my 180 small group. I was hanging out with my 8th grade guys and our topic was Heaven. My guys were very talkative last night, but in a good way. They kept asking questions about Heaven, Hell, and how you get there.

Me: “How do you get to heaven?”

Guy 1: “Live the best you can!”

Me: “What happens if you mess up?”

Guy 2: “Well, if you murder someone, obviously you’re going to Hell.”

Me: “What about cheating, lying, that kind of stuff?”

Guy 2: “You could go to Hell for that little stuff too?”

Me: “God sees all sin as the same.”

Guy 1: “Oh Snap! I’m in trouble.”

This lead to a great conversation about how its not our actions that save us, but Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. As we talked, it became clear that all of them had at one point prayed a “sinners prayer.” They felt like they were safe, and they had no idea that Jesus that Savior, was also Jesus the King. I told them that Jesus did tell people to pray a prayer, he said, “Follow me!”

The conversation I had with those kids reminded me that New City Neighbor’s, and every other Christian Church/Ministry needs to be careful. We want kids to give their lives to Christ, but there is a difference between a one time prayer event, and answering the call of Jesus to follow him. Real discipleship takes time, it takes relationship, it takes someone constantly speaking the love of Christ into their lives.

I was also reminded last night that kids need a bigger vision of the Kingdom, and of Heaven. My boys were honest. They pictured Heaven as a cloudy space, where people played harps, floated around, and were board out of their minds. As I read Revelation 21 and talked about the New Heaven and New Earth, their jaws dropped.

I invited them to imagine a place where no one wanted to fight them, where they would always be safe, where they could have fun, hang out with Jesus, experience real love, and never have to worry about pain and suffering again.

Guy 1: “You mean no one will try to fight me?”

Guy 2: “Come on bro, that can’t be true!”

Guy 3: “Jesus will really be there? I’ll get to see him?”

Guy 4: “Swear you’re not lying!”

Guy 3 (in a serious, contemplative whisper): “I wanna go there now.”

What I so desperately want the kids of our neighborhood to know, is that salvation isn’t just about when you die. Salvation is an invitation to a new life now. If they really begin to follow Jesus, then they can begin to experience a little bit of heaven right now.

Guy 4: “Swear you’re not lying!”

Me: “I’m not lying to you. Jesus came to make all things new, even you. He wants you to follow him, he wants you to experience the Kingdom now, and He wants you to be a part of the New Heaven and New Earth.”

Guy 4: “Oh. Snap.”