Discipling Not My Job

by Karl Bastian Discipleship, Questions Add comments

One of the first visitors to this site had these comments on the discipleship of children:

I certainly have a desire to disciple children, but not in the traditional sense. I don’t see it as my job to disciple children. I see it as my job to equip and encourage parents to be those disciplers. I see kids for a couple of hours each week max. Mom & Dad need to be (Biblically & logically) the primary influencers. So, this leads me to my questions. Is DisipleLand designed to encourage and equip CP’s to equip parents? If so, what does that look like? If it’s designed for CP’s to equip kids, then what does that look like also? Is this program based, curriculum based, all of the above? Final question: how does blogging accomplish the goal? I’m sure I’m not asking questions you’ve already been asked, but this is what popped in my head when checking out the page. I like the concept but am looking for a little more clarification on what you see as the end result of DiscipleLand and how you plan to get there.


Excellent Questions! First of all, let me say I don’t even know what the “traditional sense” is – I’m not sure there IS one, seems the traditional thing to do is “Christian Education” – not disciple-making. I agree that parents ARE to be the primary disciplers of kids and we MUST intentionally equip them, but Jesus did give US the command to make disciples, not to “go equip parents to make disciples” – He wasn’t speaking exclusively to parents, He was speaking to all Christians, so we can’t get out of it that easily.

As for DiscipleLand, I can only answer as a user of the material and as a friend of DiscipleLand’s founder, Mark Steiner, having had many long conversation with him about discipleship and how DiscipleLand was born out of the need for a curriculum that did more than just teach the Bible. I would say YES, it is designed to equip parents to partner with the church in the disciple-making process from the in-home tools that work hand-in-glove with the classroom materials. Not only do they have the usual “take home” papers, but a poster that visually walks through each unit for the parents, Bible cards to help parents engage, and best of all (in this Webkins age) an online tool called DiscipleZone.com where parents and kids can continue the learning process together. I can’t wait until my little boy is old enough for the tools they provide for parents so that what I do in the home can be in concert with what is happening at the church.

For more about DiscipleLand, you can obviously check out their website at DiscipleLand.com. It is curriculum based, but unlike many other curriculums it goes beyond just teaching the Bible to include missions (world view), the Gospel (try finding that in most curriculums!) and disciple skills. They also have tools for one on one discipleship which is key for kids who don’t have Christian parents or who do, but need a voice outside the home to reinforce what is taught in the home.

The call to disciple kids is one that I think is neglected in our busy ministries because there is no easy way to program it into existence. As for your final question, the blogging won’t disciple kids, but we hope that it will challenge leaders to think about how (or if) they are truly discipling kids in the midst of all the busyness of ministry. Addressing the good questions you asked above are EXACTLY why this blog was started! Thanks for getting us off to a good start! There are no easy answers, so we NEED to wrestle with how we pursue the Great Commission in children’s ministry. The Great Commission is not for “missions” – it is for ministry! WE ARE the “ends of the earth” from where Jesus first made the command!

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4 Responses to “Discipling Not My Job”

  1. SpencerClick Says:

    I think one of the largest challenges that faces us as far as discipleship is concerned is “what does discipleship look like?” As Christians we don’t have to pass a test at the end to call ourselves ‘saved’. So developing a comprehensive discipleship program is hard, we are not a school system; but we can learn from the schools on how to train children systematically.

    I know in other cultures and religious traditions there are measurements of progress and understanding…what about a christian bar mitzvah?

  2. Mark Says:

    You’re right. Putting together a comprehensive discipleship effort is pretty rigorous. Not a project to tackle without considering the cost or consequences (James 3:1 should produce a healthy fear in all of us!)

    Walking in Jesus’ steps and being His disciple is the Christian’s highest privilege! Discipleship is the ongoing process whereby Christians grow in Biblical knowledge, Christlike character, and faithful conduct—to the glory of God. Effective discipleship interweaves these three dimensions—knowledge + character + conduct. Children’s ministry must measure and reinforce all three components.

    The Bible illumines a finite number of “must know” topics to understand (knowledge), “must be” traits to exhibit (character), and “must do” activities to experience (conduct). When a child’s developmental process includes that knowledge, those traits, and those experiences, you can be reasonably assured that you have done your part to build a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ.

    I agree with your idea of a Christian bar mitzvah. We need to establish benchmarks and rights-of-passage for kids.

  3. ToddMcKeever Says:

    I am looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds. great posting and communication taking place here.

  4. jen Says:

    Jesus walked with the disciples and taught them along the way. He spent very personal time with them and LOTS of it. I do think that the best people to disciple kids are parents. It makes sense that they spend the most of the day with their own kids. God gave kids to their parents for a reason.

    Having said that, our job is to partner with parents and we should have a gameplan that involves helping kids to know the Word of God, and to give some direction on cultivating a personal relationship with Jesus. (Like the disciples did). They need to spend time wih one another on a level that is meaningful and age appropriate. Worhshiping and serving God together. Connection is a huge key.

    Here’s the thing. Whenever you decide to really do something, it gets messy. The safest way to just be a Christian is to join a church and put in your time. Memorization. Doing church. But to call kids to be Christ followers is what we’re about, right? Well, being a Christ follower gets messy. It involves sharing your heart. Praying for each other. Rolling up your sleeves and serving like Jesus did. It means walking with Christ. When you give Jesus your all, you can wind up embarrassed, left out, hurt by “Christian” friends. In other countries, you can be hurt or killed. On the other hand, only by being disciples can we truly experience life to the fullest.

    So how do we disciple kids? I honestly do not think it can be done as effectively as our model set by Jesus without a lot of personal time. Let’s face it. We don’t have a lot of personal time with the kids we serve, do we? Most of the time we have is spent with us talking and giving them enought space to give a prayer request or share a personal story. But it’s not “doing life together”.

    It’s something that we can’t look at in an efficient- American, “busy all the time” culture and expect to get the same results that we see in the New Testament. To some degree, we have to just be with God, other believers, and those we should be reaching out to… and spend good, old-fashioned quality time to truly grow something that is beautiful.

    I think a road map is very helpful, and I love curriculum, but discipleship is very much about learning and focusing on eternal things as you journey through a life led by God. In Jesus’ friendship with the apostles, Jesus had a lot of teachable moments that stemmed from questions or behaviors of the disciples. Do we have enough time to disciple? I hope so.

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