Five Essentials to Making Disciples of Children

As the Lord prepared to return to Heaven after His years on Earth, His last command was for His followers to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

AdobeStock 101174553Eric Geiger says, “A church can excel at anything and everything else, but if the church fails to make disciples, she has wandered from her fundamental reason for existence.”[1]

How do we do this with children? It doesn’t come through teaching only; it comes through engaging them in ministry.

We must be cautious in embracing the idea of a secular education model to disciple children. Simply flooding a child’s mind with knowledge of Scripture doesn’t bring transformation.

Nicki Stranza warns, “School is designed to cram information in our kids’ heads. Experience is more effective in creating an opportunity for thinking and evaluation.”[2]

The church isn’t a school; it is the body of Christ on mission.

Here are five essentials for discipling and seeing the lives of children transformed:

 God’s Word is the source of all wisdom, truth, and life. Children who spend time in the Word of God daily grow in their faith and trust in Christ as they develop a personal relationship with Him. Through regular study, memorization, and meditation, they are transformed by the renewing of their minds (Romans 12:2).

The Word of God comes alive through action. Lecturing children has proven to be mostly ineffective. A child may be sitting still in your group, but their mind may be somewhere else. Faith is caught, not taught. Don’t just talk about prayer; teach them how to pray. Hit a knee with them, and show them how to seek the Father. This is true in whatever we teach. The more you can actively engage a child in the biblical truth, the more likely there will be transformation.

Disciples are called to make disciples. Every child in your ministry should be taught how to share their faith and given opportunities to do so in your church and community. Scott McConnell writes, “Disciples share the gospel. Those who are growing in Christ tell others about Him. Those who are not growing in their faith are much less likely to articulate the gospel.”

[3]Spiritual disciplines bring balance to their faith. As children learn daily spiritual disciplines, they stay close to God in their walk with Christ (1 Timothy 4:7).
  • Lordship: Every believer in Christ is called to lay down their life in full surrender to Christ, knowing that this is an act of worship and is holy and pleasing to God (Luke 9:23; Romans        12:1).
  • Bible study: Transformation occurs through daily reading, memorization, meditation, and practical application of the Word of God (Romans 12:2).
  • Prayer: God invites us to seek Him. As we seek Him, He reveals His glory to us (Jeremiah 33:3). Children can learn to pray at all times as needs arise.
  • Evangelism: Children are equipped to pray daily for the lost and seek opportunities to share their faith. Evangelism is the fire of discipleship.
  • Gifts and Ministry: Spiritual growth comes through serving others and ministering according to the gifts the Lord has given them. Click here to receive a copy of our free spiritual gift test. 
  • Life of Obedience: As a child reads the Word of God and puts it into action, they learn to live a life of obedience to Christ.

Help a child discover their spiritual gift(s) and then equip them for ministry. The body of Christ has a calling to equip the younger saints for works of ministry (Ephesians 4:11-13).  Children who are believers are the church today because of who lives in them. They do not receive a “baby” Holy Spirit at new birth; it is the same Holy Spirit who indwells adult            believers. The same is true of their spiritual gifts. Children must be equipped according to their gifts to serve today. Be intentional in creating an environment where children can serve according to their gifts.

[2] Nicki Stranza, Leadership Innovation Starts with Kids: Developing a Perpetual Model of Leadership Coaching, (Kids Matter Magazine, November-December 2016), p. 73-74.

[3] Eric Geiger