Why Kids Need “Sequenced” Discipleship

by Mark Steiner Curriculum, Discipleship, What Kids Need

Sir Isaac Newton (English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist. and theologian) was one of the most brilliant men who ever lived. He told a fellow scientist who wondered how Newton was able to accomplish so much, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Children, at every point in their development, stand on the shoulders of their former selves. Kids cannot write a meaningful essay until they are able to create a coherent paragraph; they cannot write a strong paragraph if they have not learned basic grammar and word meanings. Similarly, children cannot solve differential equations until they have mastered algebra; they do not understand algebra unless they first grasp arithmetic.

This principle is true in music, art, and other academic disciplines as well—but it is also valid in spiritual endeavors. If the foundation is weak, efforts to build will be fraught with problems. Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount with a graphic illustration of this same principle (Matthew 7:24-27).

Studies in cognitive psychology and language acquisition conclusively demonstrate that children are much more likely to retain new learning (transferring it from short-term to long-term memory) if a memory framework already exists. Sequential, cumulative, or incremental learning ensures that children will build a foundation that is essential to later growth. It also ensures that they will process new material in the way that their brains are set up to learn—thus adding to existing memory.

In a nutshell, that is why discipleship training must be sequential. Lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ are built incrementally. Effective discipleship interweaves three dimensions—knowledge + character + conduct. The Bible illumines a finite number of “must know” topics to understand, “must be” traits to exhibit, and “must do” activities to experience. When a child’s developmental process includes that knowledge, those traits, and those experiences, we can be reasonably assured that we have done our part to build a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ.

Why do children need “sequenced” discipleship? Knowledge builds on knowledge. Character builds on character. Conduct builds on conduct. Kids who miss out on foundational aspects of their spiritual development spend much of their lives “wandering in the wilderness.” But children who receive a sequential Christian education enjoy the “land of milk and honey.” They withstand harsh winds and tossing waves (Ephesians 4:14-16). They remain firm, standing on the shoulders of spiritual giants who have gone before them (Hebrews 12:1-2).

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True Discipleship

by DiscipleLand Staff Discipleship

Here is an outline that might be helpful for a class on discipleship


A True Disciple of Jesus is:

  1. Humble – Matthew 18:1-5
  2. Obedient – John 14:15,23-24
  3. A Servant – Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45


A True Disciple has a:

  1. Supreme Love for Jesus Christ – Luke 14:26
  2. Denial of Self – Matthew 16:24
  3. Deliberate Choosing of the Cross – Matthew 16:24
  4. Life Spent in Following Jesus – Matthew 16:24
  5. Fervent Love for all who Belong to Christ – John 13:35
  6. Unswerving Continuance in God’s Word – John 8:31
  7. Forsaking of All to Follow Jesus – Luke 14:33
  8. Life Pattern of Prayer – Matthew 6:5-15
  9. Life Pattern of Evangelism and Discipleship – Matthew 28:19-20


A True Disciple does NOT look to be:

  1. Too Quick – The Love of Earthly Comforts – Luke 9:57-58
  2. Too Slow – The Precedence of a Job or Occupation – Luke 9:59-60
  3. Too Easy – The Priority of Tender Family Ties – Luke 9:61-62

These are notes from a workshop taught by David Brown, Lombard, IL

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Real vs. Cartoons

by MaryAnn Ruffolo Curriculum

One of the features of DiscipleLand Bible Curriculum that we often get positive feedback on is the Bible Pictures that are an integral part of the material. In addition to the full color Bible pages DiscipleLand also offers coloring versions of much of the art.

Just this week we got the following e-mail from Karen in response to a download error she found on our site that we quickly fixed:

You guys are great. We really enjoy the material. I especially appreciate your use of pictures that look like real people to communicate the real message of the Bible rather than using cartoon characters.

I’m amazed at the speed with which you were able to get the correction online and your devotion to quality in your product. It reflects the character of Christ in how you handle your business.

May you know the Lord’s blessing as you minister to those of us who minister to these precious little ones.


The coloring sheets Karen referred to can be seen here. Or, you can download a full size PDF here: coloringpageexample

For more free downloads and sample you can visit the Free Downloads area of DiscipleLand.com

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It Starts at the Top

by Dick Crider Leadership

I’ve been training Sunday school teachers and children’s pastors for more than twenty years. This has allowed me to speak to over 50,000 teachers in local churches and area conferences. It is always a blessing to see people awaken to the impact they can have on young lives. I am blessed to have the opportunity to encourage and challenge the people who hold the future of the church in their hands.

I’m frequently asked, “how do we get more lay people to catch the vision for children’s ministry?” My response is normally “it begins at the top.” If Sr. Pastors would make children’s ministry the top priority in our churches we could rescue this generation of kids. I also tell children’s pastors to invite their Sr Pastor to the training meetings, even if it is only to pray and encourage the teachers for a few minutes. On a few rare occasions I have had the Sr Pastor attend the entire training meeting.

This past weekend I had a great time in Crossville, Tennessee where I did a Friday night parent seminar and five hours of teacher training on Saturday. We had several parents return for the Saturday meeting who were not Sunday school teachers. But the most encouraging part of the weekend for me was having the Sr Pastor of the host church attend all the sessions. I asked him why he was there and he said, “Because I need to learn from what you have to say.” Wow! What an impact that had on the parents and teachers. He welcomed the teachers Saturday morning, listened closely, took a lot of notes, asked several good questions and asked me to send him more information on the topics we were discussing.

Following the weekend I emailed the Sr Pastor and encouraged him to consider making a positive comment about children’s ministry each week from the pulpit. He said he had done this in the past and would make it a priority in the future. There is no question in my mind that Pastor Roland Smith understands the importance of children’s ministry and his role in the future of the church.

Dick Crider
DiscipleLand Consultant & Trainer

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