What is Discipleship? And what does it mean for kids?

What is Discipleship? And what does it mean for kids?
September 14, 2018 Ali Thompson
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Discipleship. It’s something most churches agree they can do better…but few churches agree on what it actually means. Is it strictly learning about Jesus? Is it a checklist of things Christians are supposed to do, like tithe and pray?

When we wrote Digging Into Discipleship, we took a different approach.

The Heart of God

In Digging Into Discipleship, we’re focusing on the heart of God, because as kids get to know and love God, he changes their hearts to better reflect his. As kids get to know God better, they get to know themselves, too.

Not a Checklist

A lot of discipleship programs may look like a checklist of things good disciples do. We believe that striving to do all the right things isn’t necessarily discipleship. If you look at how Jesus grew his disciples, it was by spending time with them! He led by example so they could see what it meant to follow him. That’s why we need to get to know his example, his heart, in order to be disciples. We want to follow God…not a to-do list.

Growing Fruit

Fruit grows not because we try to grow fruit, but because we abide in Jesus. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

A branch on an apple tree doesn’t try to grow an apple. It just happens because it’s connected to the tree! Likewise, trying to be good apart from him is bound to fail. A branch on the ground can never try hard enough and grow an apple. As we give kids an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus, they’ll grow fruit. It’s what happens when we remain connected to him!

The Trinity and Scripture

We take a full Scripture approach and look at God’s heart through God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit…not just Jesus. While our Life of Jesus program focuses specifically on Jesus, Digging Into Discipleship is looking at God’s heart more broadly. Jesus said, “If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.” Jesus helps point us to God the Father, and gives us the Holy Spirit. The entire Bible gives us the picture of God’s whole heart.

So What?

Each Digging Into Discipleship Bible point describes who God is, and the “so what” for us. For example, “God is kind, so we’re kind.” But don’t read that as “so we should be kind.” Kids learn in lesson one that we are made in the image of God. A lot of the aspects of his heart are in our hearts, too! We were made to be kind, because we were made in his image. As we grow closer to God, we become more like the people he originally made us to be.

 Passing It On

We want kids to take this home and live it out in a natural way. As God shapes kids’ hearts, they’ll share the Gospel not just with their words, but with their lives reflecting him. (And there are also some lessons where they get to practice using their words, too!)

Check out Digging Into Discipleship and watch your preschoolers through 6th graders reflect the heart of God!

Ali Thompson is the managing editor for Group’s children’s ministry curriculum. She lives in Loveland, Colorado with two dogs and a cat. Ali loves teaching 4th & 5th graders every Sunday morning.


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