Children learn to walk through life by watching adults walk through life. Mike Breen provides an important insight:
“We get the importance of information, right? In fact, our whole system for discipleship is currently built around it.
• Information from Sunday teaching/preaching from the pulpit? (Check)
• Information from Bible studies in small groups or Sunday school? (Check)
• Information from books we read? (Check)
• Information from the next conference we attend? (Check)
• Information from reading the Bible during our personal devotions? (Check)
“I could go on, but there’s no reason in belaboring the point. Information is incredibly important. We need to know what the Bible says. We need to know what it means in terms of theology and doctrine and what the Church has said for hundreds and thousands of years. Information is good and is a non-negotiable.
“But it isn’t enough.
“We need to see that information in real flesh and blood. We need it incarnated in the life of someone else that we can watch, follow and learn from.” 1
Jesus Christ commissioned the Church with only one task—”make disciples.” With regard to children, most churches today are doing a poor job discharging that responsibility. If Jesus paid us a surprise visit, we would show Him our nice classrooms and resource centers. We might introduce Him to our teaching staff, invite Him to share snacks with preschoolers, and ask Him to teach the older kids. Afterwards, Jesus might say: “Thank you for the tour. I can see that you’re having a good time together. You’ve invested in resources and environments. But I came today for another reason—remember the one thing I commanded you to do? Now, please show Me your disciples.”
What will you and I say when Jesus asks us that question?
Francis Chan raises this challenge: “He [Jesus] tells us to go out and make disciples and how many of our people in our churches are actually making disciples? They memorized it. You know when I tell my daughter, Hey Rach, go clean your room she doesn’t come back to me two hours later and go, ‘I memorized what you said. You said Rach, go clean your room. I can say it in Greek. My friends are going to come over and we’re going to have a study on what it would look like if I cleaned my room.’ She knows better than that. And so why do we think that we’re going to come before the Judge one day and quote everything that He said and talk about how much we know. It’s just this black and white stuff. If I just started with Scripture here’s what I would do – I’d start making disciples.” 2 (watch short video)
In his book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna wrote, “…ministry to children is the single most strategic ministry in God’s kingdom” (p. 14). God has given parents primary responsibility for the spiritual training of their children. But many parents don’t know where to begin. They feel overwhelmed with this responsibility. So, parents often entrust this task to the Church, or to chance.
This is why disciplemaking is the most pivotal ministry that churches can provide. It is time for churches to encourage and equip parents to carry out their responsibility. The vitality of the next generation of Christ-following disciples pivots on its willingness to do so. Churches must plan purposeful ministries to disciple parents and children. As your church considers the needs of children, please remember Jesus’ highest priority. Discipleship is the one thing we cannot neglect.
We’ll never be perfect role models, but children do need us to be genuine, active, and intentional ones.
Discipleship Begins With Our Children
Discipleship is the one thing that kids really need. DiscipleLand’s family of Biblical resources forms a complete Children’s Discipleship System™ – an intentional, relational, and transformational process designed to help children know God intimately, love Him passionately, and to serve Him selflessly.