About 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:
1. Lordship of Christ: The starting point of all discipleship is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When we say yes to Him, we are called to lay down our lives and follow Him (Luke 9:23). We teach children that we are called to lay down our lives daily as a “holy” sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1).
2. God’s Word: We teach children how to have a daily quiet time by being in the Word of God daily. We provide devotional materials for them that cause them to research and study. They also memorize Scripture for the purpose of obeying the commands of God. Jesus tells us, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15, NASB). We teach Scripture in a way that faith is caught through action in the classroom and ministry involvement.
3. Prayer: We teach children how to pray. We teach them to pray for the nations around the world where the people do not know Christ. We teach them to pray for their lost friends and for their parents for God’s protection over them. On a Wednesday evening, we set up the church for A Journey of Prayer. We had various stations throughout the church where they would stop and pray. The children prayed constantly for more than an hour and a half. As our preteen children moved into the student ministry, one of the seventh grade teachers came to me, hugged my neck, and said, “These girls are fearless prayer warriors for their King Jesus.”
4. Evangelism: The greatest mission field in the world today is the 4/14 Window. Seventy percent of those who trust Christ internationally are between 4 and 14 years of age. Also, those in this age bracket are the most effective in sharing the Gospel with their peers. So, we train preteens and teens how to share the Gospel and then take them outside the church to do so. In the past 13 years, our preteens have led hundreds of their friends and other children to Christ in our community and on mission trips. We have even witnessed children leading their parents to Christ.
If you would like to know how to teach the children in your church how to share the Gospel, we have a free training video to show you how. Click here to watch the training now.
5. Gifts and Ministry: About seven years ago, I began to see children’s spiritual gifts manifest before my eyes as I began to engage them in ministry. Since then, we began to change our focus in our small groups to equip them for ministry in the church according to their spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:11-13). They were created for a purpose and for works of ministry in the body of Christ today (Ephesians 2:10). As they served and became engaged in ministry, we saw them become confident in their gifts and abilities in the body of Christ. The joy is to see them grow up in the body of Christ. Several of the students in our church who went through our preteen ministry have been serving in the church for ten years now (since they were in fifth grade). You can discover the spiritual gifts of the children of your church by getting your free copy of our Spiritual Gift Test. Click here to get your copy today.
6. Life of Obedience: We teach children to listen to the Lord. We help them understand that He is that still small voice living within every believer. He does not condemn us for sin, but He does convict us to turn and follow His commands. We help preteens understand that if there is ever a question whether something is right or wrong, Scripture is our guide. We teach them to obey the commands of Christ out of an expression of love for Him (John 14:15).
There has been great joy for me as a minister over that past 13 years as I have watched children mature in their faith. As I have taught my leadership these principals and they in turn have taught them to our children, we have seen transformation and spiritual foundations that are set on the Rock (Matthew 7:24). Dr. Mark Leeds was one of our small (disciple) group leaders in our church. He shares great ideas on how to engage children in ministry in a small group setting. To watch Dr. Leeds’ free training, click here.