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Are We Called to Make Converts or Disciples?

Child Disciples
 
While attending a training conference, a good friend of mine Mike Lehew was sharing and made a statement that stuck in my mind: “We are not called to make converts; we are called to make disciples.” That really struck a nerve with me. For the first 13 years of my ministry, I was a fearless evangelist for kids. I would share the Gospel on any and every occasion. I did everything I could to get them to the church and to reach them for the Lord. After they trusted Christ, many times, it ended there. I would thank the Lord that they accepted Him and move on to the next group of kids. In the midst of leading them to the Lord, I became burdened for their spiritual growth. One of my favorite seminary professors, Dr. Roy Fish, shared, “It is a terrible thing to lead someone to Christ and not disciple them in the faith.” The enemy will eat them alive. This might be true for the church today, with a record number of students walking away from the faith during their first year of college. Could this be the consequence of making converts versus making disciples who are fully devoted to Christ and His mission?

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The Moses Syndrome: How to Part the Hallways in Your Church

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20”? As I reflect back over the past 26 years of ministry, I always struggled as a minister to find help and volunteers in the church. I remember hearing Jim WidemanMoses Syndrome 2 years ago talk about the “Moses syndrome.” He said, as a minister, he would walk down the hallway on a Sunday morning looking for volunteers. The adults who saw him would part the hallway on both sides like the Red Sea. They were trying their best to avoid eye contact or being near him because he might ask them to serve. This has been much of my journey. As I began to ponder this problem, I realized it isn’t a problem that can’t be fixed. We just have to change the way we are developing our leaders. The reason that it is difficult to get adult volunteers, even parents, to serve is because they have never served in the church all of their lives. Let me explain. Somewhere along the way in the church’s great history, someone embraced the idea that the way to disciple and equip children is through indoctrination—having them sit and listen while someone teaches. We sit them in a classroom and use different teaching styles to explain to them how to live for Jesus. The problem here is that faith is caught, not taught. You can lecture all day long and never move a child’s heart, but teaching with action changes lives. Recently, I have been looking at trends that might cause a minister to rethink the way to do ministry.

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The Ezekiel Test: Where Do Kids Fit in Your Church?

I want to ask you a question: Where is your church today in the recognition of children and their spiritual gifts? I challenge you to take a moment toEzekiel Test honestly evaluate where you are and the importance of children using their gifts in the body of Christ today.  I encourage you to take a test—the Ezekiel test. We use Ezekiel 47:1-5 as an illustration of five levels of spiritual growth, depth, and involvement.

  1. On the bank (v. 2b)—I do, You watch
  2. Ankle deep (v. 3b)—I do, You help
  3. Knee deep (v. 4a)—You do, I help
  4. Waist deep (v. 4b)—You do, I watch
  5. Swimming (v. 5)—You do

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