3 Alternatives to Missional Communities: Family Discipleship
85% of people who decide to follow Jesus, do so between the ages of 4 and 14. Let that sink in a bit. This is profound and overlooked. This makes the discipling of children vitally important. Not having a plan to disciple children is not an option.
Many are mistaking a strategy for growth that includes a children’s focus as a plan for discipling children. See this post for more thoughts on this. Effective entertainment for children that compels them to want to be at a worship service is not effective discipleship. Using children as a strategy to get their parents at church is only ok if that includes a strategy to make disciples of children.
So what does a plan to disciple kids look like? It should contain these three parts.
- Teaching parents and guardians how to disciple their kids. The church sees less and less of children in their gathered functions. You simply can’t disciple a child without being with them for significant amounts of time. The Bible clearly demonstrates that the parent is the primary discipler of a child. But parents are ill-equipped to know how to disciple their kids. As a society we have made impressive strides at teaching parents the importance of exercise, healthy eating, the value of play, etc. for a child. Parents are equipped culturally to do these things even if they frequently fail. But how do you teach a child to pray? How do you develop a sense of generosity in a child? How do you teach them love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control? Go to Wal-Mart or the mall and see if you can find kids practicing these behaviors. The church has failed parents by focusing more on entertaining kids and less on teaching parents how to disciple their children. It’s why a majority of kids will leave the church when they leave home. They haven’t been discipled.
- Influencing the world of children. This is the out focus of discipling children. The world is downright hostile to children. We have a responsibility to be salt and light where kids are. What is your plan to be involved with the local schools? How are you helping them? How are you brining Jesus into the school? Yeah, I know “separation of church and state.” The reality is the state doesn’t care when you do it right. I worked with a church planter who holds the keys to the kingdom with the local schools. The school even funds part of his ministry. No kidding. They ask him to speak at school events, and pay him to teach the fruits of the Spirit to the most at risk kids in the school. How? By serving and meeting needs of the school. By showing the love of Jesus in tangible ways. By looking to benefit the school and not benefit from the school. How are you being salt and light within kids’ sports? Scouts? Foster care? We need churches with plans to infiltrate the places of society where kids are.
- Becoming advocates for children who have none. Not all children have parents. Not all children have parents who care. Children can’t speak for themselves. We need churches who mobilize people to care for these voiceless children. People who will intercede to change the story of a child. People who won’t judge and get angry at a child whose is on the path to destruction, but whose hearts will be broken and will step in regardless of the cost to guide the child toward the path of righteousness.
85% of people who decide to follow Jesus do so between the ages of 4 and 14. What is your plan for discipling children?
This is the third post of a series. The first post is “3 Reasons Why Missional Communities are not the only Discipleship Model.” The second post is “3 Alternatives to Missional Communities: Small Groups.”
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