“The waves of discipleship materials that have swept over the church in the past sixty years have in many cases caused people to be more confused than ever when they think of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ,” writes Michael J. Wilkins, Professor Biola University. 1
According to Thomas Tarrants, Director of Ministry at the C.S. Lewis Institute, “There is a crisis of discipleship in the American church today. Reams of research confirm the simple observation that in many ways the lives of most professing Christians are not much different from their non-believing neighbors. Like ancient Israel and the church in some periods of history, we have adopted the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the surrounding culture to an alarming degree. Although there are exceptions among individuals and congregations, they only serve to confirm the reality.
“This sad situation is bringing reproach on the name of Jesus Christ, undermining the credibility of the church, strengthening atheist rhetoric, and bringing frequent charges of hypocrisy against God’s people and his work. It stands in stark contrast with the teachings of Jesus about discipleship and the witness of the church in other eras, and it presents us with an urgent and unavoidable challenge.
“A significant part of our problem today is widespread misunderstanding about the nature of discipleship.” 2
Clarifying the Confusion
Jay Johnston writes, “Discipleship is the process God uses to accomplish His transforming work in us. Some define discipleship as the lifelong journey of obedience to Christ that transforms a person’s values and behavior and results in ministry in one’s home, church and the world. Regardless of how it is defined or approached, it must be measured by its fruit. Christ intends for each one who follows Him to “deny himself, take up his cross, and follow [Him]” (Mark 8:34). He expects followship to be demonstrated by obedience: “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). Furthermore, He commissions all his disciples to reproduce themselves in others: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). 3
Similarly, Barry Sneed, Executive Vice President at NavPress, writes, “Discipleship is a lifelong journey of obedience to Christ which transforms a person’s values and behavior, and results in ministry in one’s home, church, and the world.” 4
Discipling Your Children
DiscipleLand’s family of resources forms a comprehensive Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational discipleship process. Your children can achieve balanced growth in Bible knowledge, Christ-like character, and faithful conduct.
•Nursery curriculum (birth–age 3) includes everything your volunteers need to provide spiritual nourishment for your little lambs.
•Preschool children (ages 3–5) progress through Old and New Testament stories to discover God’s greatness and plan.
•Kindergarten kids (ages 5–6) overview the entire Bible and meet 48 different Bible personalities along the way.
•For the Elementary years (grades 1–6), choose from these options:
—Core Bible challenges children to become victorious disciples via 6 years of sequential Bible curriculum
—Adventure motivates kids to pursue their discipleship journey via essential Bible topics
—DiscipleTown equips kids with vital discipleship skills.
1: Michael J. Wilkins, Discipleship for Changing Times and Ministries. Web. 2010.
2: Thomas A. Tarrants III: The Transforming Impact of True Discipleship. Web. 2010.
3: Jay Johnston: Discipleship: Stepping Stones to Developing Your Church’s Strategy. Web. 2009.
4: Roy Edgemon and Steve Williams: Leading Discipleship in a Church. Nashville Convention Press, 1998.