Let’s look at this simple commandment from the master teacher, Jesus. Simply “go and make disciples.” I can hear someone saying, “You don’t know the kids in my ministry. They barely know how to sit in a chair and listen to me tell incredible Bible stories to them each week. And now you’re asking me to disciple these same kids? You gotta be kidding!”
Greg Baird* poses this question, “Are you practicing informational discipleship or transformational discipleship?” Yep, you read his question right. There are a lot of churches and ministries that have become experts in informational discipleship. It’s time to move the focus of our ministries from us making sure we cover every inch of the written curriculum. It’s time we move from being the sage on the stage. It’s time to take your kids on a transformational discipleship journey.
Remember that Jesus not only taught the people, but He walked among them, ate with them, and held children in His lap. He related to them, and as a result, their lives were changed. Remember the woman at the well? After a conversation with Jesus (relational) her life was changed. Remember Zacchaeus? After Jesus spotted him in a tree and went to his house for dinner (relational), Zacchaeus’ life was changed forever.
Share your own spiritual experience and life change moments with your kids and volunteers. Be sensitive and age appropriate as you share your life story. It is so much simpler to tell someone about something you’ve experienced versus what you’ve just heard or read about.
Invest time in your kids and include their family members in the process. Equip and resource families with Bibles (don’t assume they have access to Bibles). Distribute talking points from the lessons or kids’ worship time for families to talk about on the way home or to talk about as part of their family devotional time. Celebrate spiritual milestones with families (i.e, when their sons or daughters asked Jesus into their hearts, were baptized, when the new little one was born into their family).
Make your ministry memorable and remarkable. Make the ministry something kids and families want to be involved in! Plan an event outside the regular Sunday School or worship setting that includes the whole family. A family advent wreath-making event, an ice cream social to kick off summer, or a fall festival are easy ideas to work into the calendar.
Pray for the kids you are discipling. Pray for the families of your church. Pray for the kids and families that God is going to send your way, because you are offering a ministry that is proving to be transformational versus informational. Pray for your volunteers. Pray and pray some more!
Love them. Share the love of Jesus by doing friendly things and acting in loving ways. Your kids are watching and listening to you. What do your actions tell them?
Encourage those in your church who have experienced a life transformational experience with Jesus. As a result of their transformed lives, they are now change agents (disciples of Christ) and they have been given power to change their world (families and friends)!
I encourage you to begin to evaluate your children’s ministry and see if it is reflecting transformational discipleship. Your ministry has to be more than fun and games (as a Kinesthetic learner myself, this is hard to say). If we’re going to have an effective discipleship ministry (your youth pastor will thank you later), we’ve got to start moving our ministry from informational to transformational. Doing this will ensure we are making children disciples with a lasting and growing faith.
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