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Dynamic Church Growth Through Family Discipleship
Church leaders are struggling to curtail the massive exodus of between seventy and ninety four percent of church children; well over two million are being lost each year. According to Barna Research, less than one half of one percent of young adults have a biblical worldview; that is less than one in two hundred! Any incremental growth through evangelistic efforts is being countermanded by the failure to retain our own children. Many churches are trying to appeal to youth, but the exodus continues. How can we keep our children from being devoured by wolves and keep our churches growing?
Jesus Provided a Method for Church Growth
The good news is that Jesus gave the church a clear example of how disciples are made and then commanded us “make disciples” in the Great Commission.
Unfortunately, rather than making disciples like Jesus, parents have been following secular society in the methods used to train their children. Parents turn their children over to be discipled by “experts,” peers and media… most of whom are unbelievers. So when children reach their late teens, they are choosing to follow those whom have discipled them: the world.
Jesus’ example and method is the emphasis of the book Disciple Like Jesus For Parents: Following Jesus’ Method and Enjoying the Blessings of Children, written by Alan Melton and Paul Dean. The book, according to Calvary Press, “is not just a book, it’s a movement.” Families across America and the world are being transformed by simply doing what Jesus did.
How can local churches grow their congregations? Equip the saints to follow the practices of Jesus in the way He made disciples. The key: Jesus made disciples and evangelized the world simultaneously. There are four major components in Jesus’ method of discipleship.
1. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him while He showed them how to follow God
2. Jesus was with His disciples for the majority of most days
3. Jesus constantly taught Scripture and showed His disciples how to minister
4. Jesus sent His disciples out in twos to protect them from wolves
What Are Some Implications of Jesus’ Method for Families?
Like Jesus, parents develop deep relationships with their children. Parents assume the responsibility to disciple their children and show their children how to follow Christ. They are with their children for “quantity time” rather than only “quality time.” Parents teach scripture and biblical principles to their children frequently throughout the day. They take their children into the world to minister and share the gospel with others. Finally, parents protect their children from the wolves. Like Jesus, parents send their children out only after they have been fully trained, and then with other trusted adults. Remember that Jesus was protecting grown men from the wolves, and protection is needed even more for children.
Practical Ways the Church Can Encourage and Support Family Discipleship
Here are some ways that churches can keep the focus on Jesus’ method of discipleship:
• Create a status quo of parental discipleship, beginning with new parents. Messages from the pulpit, parent testimonies, and church leaders setting the example with their families are some ways to get started.
• Provide training for parents on topics of discipling children at various ages. Classes on getting ready for kids, shepherding babies and toddlers, family devotions, child discipline, family outreach, dangers of the cyber world, are some sample topics to offer.
• Encourage families to be together during church activities and ministries. If parents are to shepherd their children, they need to be with their sheep. Develop ministries that allow families to serve the Lord together.
As parents make disciples of their children like Jesus, they develop deep relationships with their children and can better weather the storms of life. Cultural maladies such as teen rebellion, premarital sex, and church defection are reduced or eliminated.
As we become successful in retaining future generations while taking the gospel to the world, church growth can become dynamic and permanent.
Learn more about Disciple Like Jesus at: http://www.DiscipleLikeJesus.com
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