When Lance and Melissa Cosby moved to a new city, they didn’t realize their eight-year-old son would be leading the charge at a new church.
The Cosbys relocated to Phoenix in 2012 and immediately began a relentless hunt for a church home. What they were looking for was sound doctrine.
“I had listened to Pastor Mark’s podcasts,” said Lance, “and my wife and I attended the Real Marriage conference when Pastor Mark came to Scottsdale last year. We learned of Mars Hill planting in Phoenix via twitter and were elated.”
Inside of five weeks, the Cosbys had met with Pastor Ryan Welsh for Community Group leader training and signed the membership covenant. The Cosbys had found their church home, a home for which Lance said they were incredibly grateful.
Both Melissa and Lance were Christians before they landed in Phoenix. While Melissa became a believer at the age of five, Lance’s path to faith took a more winding route.
“I also made a profession of faith as a child, but did not live the life of a Christian,” he said. “I spent most of my teen years and twenties in rebellion despite the fact that I went to a Christian school and attended church regularly with my family. At the age of 33, I realized that I was living a lie. The Holy Spirit softened my heart and, through a series of events, I accepted him as my Lord and Savior. My life has never been the same.”
The Cosby’s son, Conor, now 8 years old, followed in his mother’s footsteps and accepted Christ when he was five years old. By the time his family started attending Mars Hill, he was a lightly seasoned believer with a couple of years under his belt, but he hadn’t been baptized. While his family visited another church last summer, Conor witnessed several people participating in baptism and asked his dad if there was anything special about “that water.” Lance walked his son through the meaning of what he was observing.
“After I explained everything about the process and symbolism of baptism, he asked if he could be baptized,” said Lance. “I knew that when we found a church home, this would be one of the first things we did.”
Sure enough, once the Cosbys landed at Mars Hill they signed Conor up to be dunked. The church planned to hold baptisms on January 12th, the official public launch day for Mars Hill Church Phoenix. What Lance and Melissa didn’t realize was that Conor’s baptism would also serve as a sort of christening. On the morning of the 12th, Conor was the first in line to make his public profession of faith. He would be the very first baptism in Mars Hill Phoenix history.
But Conor wasn’t thinking about leading the charge. That morning, his focus was on his little sister, Kaylea, age 6, who had not been baptized. Conor told Lance, “Dad, we need to talk to Kaylea about this so that she understands what I am doing and why I am doing it. She needs to do this too.”
Conor is often focused on the needs of the people around him. According to Lance, his son’s concern for others is strong and, even at the young age of eight, the evidences of his faith are clear.
“He has an incredible amount of compassion and love for others,” said Lance. “Last year (in the first grade), his teacher told him that he needed to bring a chapter book in to keep in his desk to read during free time. He asked me if he could bring his Bible to school because it has chapters and then he could tell his friends about Jesus. He witnessed to our elderly neighbor that lived across the street from us in Michigan when we lived there about two and a half years ago, and honestly, I could go on and on.”
It is not uncommon for adults to doubt the authenticity of a confession of faith on the lips of a five year old. Lance counters that thinking, however, saying that anyone who doubts the ability of a five-year-old to be saved is “overthinking the simplicity of the gospel.”
“Matthew 18:3–4 says ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’ As this seems to address a young or new Christian, a child is humble and understands complete dependence on others. Adults tend to complicate things unnecessarily and over-rationalize faith. The gospel is so simple that even a child can understand it.”
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