Paul and children, Wells claims, are both in the pattern of what he calls “insider conversion”. He explains why:
Paul’s conversion fell into this pattern [of insider conversion] because of what he already knew: his profound knowledge of the Old Testament Scriptures, his training in Judaism, his zealous acceptance of many of the truths without which there can be no gospel. Paul already believed in the one God, accepted biblical revelation, understood its teaching on sin and the need for sacrifice, believed in God’s judgment, and in some way anticipated a Messiah. This was not a small foundation upon which the gospel could rest! For children the pattern of coming to Christ is similar, not because they bring with them this set of beliefs, but because they need to have them built up as a preparation for the gospel. They need to come into saving faith by incremental stages, making steps toward Christ as their knowledge of biblical truth grows and as their awareness of themselves as sinners increases. It is important to build this foundation with patience and care and to resist the temptation to produce instant conversions. Young children often want to please parents and adults and it is therefore not difficult for teachers and evangelists to manipulate them into making a decision. But even if this is done with the best of motives, it is not the best, or even a desired, result. For what results is a misunderstood experience that later on may rebound in the form of a bitter resentment and disillusionment.
David Wells, Turning to God: Reclaiming Christian Conversion as Unique, Neccessary, and Supernatural, p. 67-68