Kids Discipleship

Children's Ministry Resources, Ideas, and Encouragement

Discipleship Begins With The Senior Pastor January 21, 2010

Regardless of denomination, research says that the church is losing 70% of church-raised kids.

One recent attempt to curb this alarming trend has been to assign the job and responsibility of spiritual influence entirely to dads and moms (based on Deuteronomy 6:5-7). And though I believe that parents do have the greatest opportunity as “spiritual influencers” in their children’s lives, I see this as only partially remedial. Recall that Moses plainly and simply taught the law to Israel so that parents could then instruct their children. As such, we see the church in partnership with parents and parents in partnership with the church. Discipleship is not to be relegated solely to parents; it is the job and responsibility of the entire church.

The Great Commission has three participles: “go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” and one imperative verb, a command: “make disciples.” The main idea is to make disciples. The participles tell us how to do that: we make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. So the goal of discipleship is to make disciples, teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-19).

If I am a born-again believer, it does not matter whether I am a dad working full-time as a plumber or employed 40-hours each week by a church; making disciples according to Jesus is MY job and responsibility and is accomplished right where I am today (first participle “go”). As I “go” I am to initiate people into the life of discipleship by ‘baptizing’ (second participle), and through the use of my gifts, teach them (third participle). Teaching is the continuous obligation of the church in the life of a new believer as they develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Teaching is the process of getting him/her to know Jesus in a life-long, deeper, and more intimate way – teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded. Scripture is an absolute essential element in the process of Holy Spirit-inspired transformation of knowledge, conduct and character. Discipleship is the corporate responsibility of the church and the personal privilege of every believer as they are gifted. Discipleship is a life-long process, beginning at the point of salvation, and participated in and contributions made by a variety of believers throughout the life of a disciple.

Being a disciple and making disciples is a direct command from our Lord Jesus and the primary responsibility of the church and every born-again believer. Everything we do in church or ministry should have discipleship as the ultimate core goal — our going, baptizing, and teaching needs to be discipleship-centered. What we do each time we gather, whether church services, Sunday School, children’s ministry, women’s ministry, men’s ministry, VBS, outreach, etc., should all be filtered through the question, “How will this help us make disciples?”

If you want to establish a long-term, life-transforming, disciple-making process in your church, prayerfully consider the following:

1)    The senior pastor must personally champion discipleship in EVERY church ministry and department – this cannot be delegated and he/she must be personally involved in a discipleship group. Whether at home or when we gather together to worship, accountability begins with leadership.

2)    There must be a strong vision to make a disciple of every person in the church – the church must embrace Jesus’ command to “make disciples” as their vision and the vision must be used as the “filter” for every activity. Believe the vision, preach the vision, teach the vision, and live the vision.

3)    Develop a sustainable discipleship ministry. We have a tendency to build big plans and we oftentimes are overwhelmed because it is so big. Carefully and thoughtfully consider the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Pray. Share your vision with two or three others. Start small and then dream big. Allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead and develop. Remember, in God’s economy His big things always started out in His small ways.

Discipleship-centered Curriculum: DiscipleLand


One Response to “Discipleship Begins With The Senior Pastor”

  1. shama2 Says:

    Nice blog. What about the following:

    (Mat. 28:28-30) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    The following are the “all that I have commanded you” what I would call the terms of discipleship or the commands of Jesus to anyone desiring to follow Him:

    1- Loving Jesus more than self or others. Mat. 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
    Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

    2- Denial of self. Mat. 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

    3-Taking up your cross. Mark 8:34-38 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

    Luke 9:23-26 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son
    of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

    4-Love for all who belong to Christ. John 12:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

    5-Abiding in His Word. John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”

    6-Forsaking all to follow Him. Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

    The gospel we are called to walk worthy of and contend for, once delivered to faithful men, is lived out in taking up our cross and denying ourselves. The invitation is to come and die. Everything else is better understood in this light. Romans, the Gospel of God, is more easily understood as we obediently bear our cross. Paul asks in chapter 6:2-11, (NKJV) “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Death is understood from our experience of taking up our cross. If the Christian experience/life starts with blood washing away our sin and placing us in right standing before God, then the cross is for our deliverance from sin. 1 Cor. 1: 17-18, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

    Many Christians struggle with sin, sinning and asking forgiveness, over and over never really overcoming the practice of sin. Yes, I realize we still sin and need to ask for forgiveness, but the cross delivers us from its bondage and we are set free from its slavery through death. Paul’s letter to the Galatians chpt.2:20 now becomes the cry of my heart, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” And Gal. 6:14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

    Finally in regards to discipleship, I reference 1John 2:3-6, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

    In Christ,

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