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Six Spiritual Disciplines that Transform the Lives of Children

Six Spiritual DisciplinesAbout 13 years ago, I began teaching children six key spiritual disciplines. What I didn’t expect was the transformation that occurred within the first three months. I have served on advisory boards of major Christian organizations, and I have taught at conferences and attended conferences. One thing I didn’t figure out until later in ministry is that faith is not taught—it is caught. Oh, I had children memorizing Scripture and attending church every week. I tried everything to get them through the door of my church. We even saw hundreds of children come to know Christ through our evangelistic efforts. However, I did not see transformation in children until I began to teach them how to have a relationship with Christ through personal disciplines. Paul tells us, “But have nothing to do with irreverent folklore and silly myths. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness [keeping yourself spiritually fit]” (1 Timothy 4:7, AMP).

Here are the six disciplines we teach children in the church that brings about transformation:

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Once Upon a Time in a Church Not So Far Away

Church Not Far Away 1Once upon a time in a church not so far away, the children were sequestered in classrooms. They were told to be still, be quiet, and listen and while the teacher told them about the King and His future plans for them. Year after year, they were told to sit and listen while their teacher ministered to them. But their children’s pastor did not realize that the King had plans for them today. As the children’s pastor began to release the King’s children to participate in ministry, he suddenly witnessed that they could do amazing things for their King. Right in front of the children’s pastor’s eyes, they told others about the King and His plans for them. To the children’s pastor’s amazement, other children became part of the King’s kingdom. In astonishment, the children’s pastor began to realize, “Hey, maybe they don’t have to wait to serve in the King’s kingdom; they can serve the King today.” So the children’s pastor began to recognize more and more the King’s current plans for the children. He gave them more and more responsibilities, and they carried them out to the glory of their King. The King (Jesus) showed the children’s pastor that children are not the future church—they are the church today!

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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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