Monday, April 04, 2011

What does a discipled child look like anyway?

After writing about “Developing a Biblical World View in Children”  I have not been able to get this question out of my head. If our job as children’s pastors is to do what Matthew 28:19 tells use to do, (and I believe it is) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations", then what does a discipled child look like? How can we tell where we are hitting the mark if we have not defined and determined what a discipled child is in the first place? Mr. Webster says that a disciple is a follower. Alan Root in his book “Disciplification!” defines disciplification in three ways 1. The travels of a disciple. 2. The practiced habit of “following” 3. A made up word which simply means the life-changes made to become more and more like Jesus each day. So if our job is to make followers who through life changes and good choices cause them to be more like Jesus, then what actions, habits and character traits should a twelve year old Christ follower possess? 
For years I think we’ve been guilty of using faithfulness as the major evaluation if a child has been discipled. If a child was faithful to attend plus participate in loads of other children’s ministry activities and programing then we would send them into the youth ministry and feel like we succeeded. In a few years we would look them up in the youth group and find they were not there and wonder what did the youth pastor do to  make this child loose interest? I have said for years that those of us that teach kids should think of ourselves as a foundation specialist. But anyone who has ever built any kind of building knows that the type foundation you build has everything to do with the type of building you can build. In construction you start with the building plans and then determine what kind of foundation does it need for what you are building. In children’s ministry I think many of us have been guilty of designing the foundation then saying to the youth ministry now go fit your building on the foundation we have built never one time sitting down and working together toward the end result. Sometimes the problem has started long before we promote them into the youth ministry even from one department or ministry to another within the total children’s ministry we are so territorial we haven’t worked as a true team and prepared them for the now as well as  the next age group.  Instead of looking ahead we have focused on the present which centers on and around our own ministry responsibilities. When we help other departments and ministries around us be successful then we’ll be successful. We are all on the same team working toward the same goal. Our mission here at World Outreach Church is to help people become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Our mission for the children’s ministry as well as for our student ministries is to help young people and parents become fully devoted followers of Christ now and forever. You can’t hit the church’s mission without every ministry that makes up the church working on that same mission statement just breaking it down for their age groups.


  1. I LOVE this question! Brother Jim has taught me by example that change and growth begin by asking good questions. When kids come to us in Kindergarten and go through the kidmin pipeline, what's coming out the other end when they're in 5th grade? Have we equipped them to make an impact in their world?

    What can we see in a child that conveys discipleship? There are a lot of "good" things kids need to do to be a successful, but I think there are basically TWO factors that make a true disciple.
    Jesus said in Luke 6:44 "For every tree is known by its own fruit.." Its own, even kids can have spiritual fruit.
    Q: What is discipleship?
    Is it scripture memory? A good thing, but....
    Is it perfect attendance? A goog thing but....
    Is it obedience to parents and teachers? A good thing, but....
    Is it involvement in lots of church activities? A good thing, but....

    I believe discipleship can be summed up in two things:
    It's ageless, it's timeless! It's always in style! All those other things are good, but if they are not done in LOVE, they are not done IN GOD and I Cor 13 calls that "a clanging symbol", or I like to say an "out of tune trumpet".
    "Even if I memorize 42 scriptures, bring my Bible to ever kid's church service, smile and answer every question in class, if I don't do it in LOVE, it profits me nothing." Oh, we reward behavior, but we tend to look just at the outward behavior and not the heart behind it. "Why" do kids do what they do? Approval, the prize, competition?
    The cool thing is that we can actually love God, by serving people. Didn't Jesus give us one of the greatest messages of all time when He demonstrated what discipleship is all about- serving and washing feet?
    The question now is: How can we influence our kids to die to self, "it's all about me" and have passion for serving people? It all starts at home..... I believe THAT is a major key to keeping our kids strong

  2. Great points. As someone deeply involved in both Children and Youth ministry, it's continually astounding the divide between the two. A partnership is an important element, especially when addressing non-church attenders who are shell shocked when leaving their entertaining-serving children's ministry and walking into a more serious and in-depth youth ministry.