Who are your prayer warriors? Who are those few people that you can pick up a phone and ask for prayer? I had an opportunity to teach children for a Sunday school, and I asked the same question. When I asked these little children, interestingly, the top two came out as the following: 1. Mama; 2. Grandma.
As I look back, it is personally true in my own life! I think of my mother, who had a huge spiritual impact upon my life. So much of who I am today is in answer to her prayers for me. Her prayers have been transforming the hearts and lives of my two brothers and myself.
However, then it dawned on me. What does that say as men being the spiritual leaders of the home? Maybe as dads, we are willing to throw tons of ball together with our kids, but we need to disciple and pray for our children, like grandma and mama did.
As we know, discipleship is more than words. Leadership is more than a speech. The good news is that Jesus has given us a plan. Jesus tells us exactly what we need to do.
Here are three things to consider as we look at the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) we disciple children.
1. Gospel Proclamation
Disciples are called to GO! However, you cannot go unless you have the message. You cannot have it unless you know the message. You cannot know unless you read the message.
A few years ago, Lifeway Christian Research embarked on an in-depth study to examine the state of discipleship in the church today—the Transformational Discipleship Assessment.
That study included interviews with 28 discipleship experts, a survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors, and a survey of 4,000 lay people in North America (30 percent of the respondents were from Canada).
The research conducted on the topic of Bible Reading came with staggering statistics:
• 88% of the households in America own at least one Bible.
• The average family has three to four copies of God’s Word
• However, only one in seven adults read the Bible daily.
According to Daniel Im in his book No Silver Bullet said, “Reading the Bible on a regular basis led to greatest impact on overall maturity.” Many church members are gospel deficient as people in the church are biblically illiterate.
If you want your church to be a gospel proclaiming church, first begin by modeling and leading the people in the pew to engage with the Bible.
2. Relationship Building
In order to have a relationship, you first must have a conversation.
• Gospel then leads to conversations,
• Conversations lead to relationships,
• Relationships lead to transparency,
• Transparency then leads to discipleship.
“I hate training.” People are often against institutional/informational structure. Why? Because they are not genuine. When we build genuine relationship, we are no longer in the number game!
When we are only about the number game we will begin to ask questions such as, “What’s the number in your small group/ministry?”
Instead those who care about genuine relationships will begin to ask,
a. What is God showing you in your quiet time? (ministry, serving, yourself)
b. What do you find is your biggest distraction in following what God is leading you to do?
c. What specific things are you doing that you know are helping you grow in the Lord?
d. What do you find most fulfilling or rewarding as a Small Group Leader?
e. Is there anything the Holy Spirit is convicting you about or leading you in a way that you need to do something to follow?
f. How can I pray for you? “Church leaders are to invest 90% of their energy in shepherding and listening to the needs of the leader and 10% in vision casting and leading them,” says Greg Bowman
3. Transformational Discipleship
Unfortunately, many disciples believe the relationship is the end of the process of discipleship. Once a person is saved and joined the church, there is nothing left to do. However, Jesus didn’t end there. He commanded, “teaching everything to observe everything.” (v. 20)
Certainly, this kind of “teaching” involves helping people learn information about God and His Word – but it also goes way beyond information.
Discipleship is more about transformation than information. For dumping information doesn’t produce transformation.
Robby Gallaty put it this way, “Could it be that we have spent a lot of our time teaching people what they’re saved from, and we haven’t spent time teaching people what they’re saved for?”
The true measure of discipleship is obedience. The only real way to teach obedience is to ultimately model what it means to obedient to Jesus’ command. Discipleship without application leads to frustration, but discipleship with application leads to transformation.
Jesus sends you to your family
How confident do you feel in your ability to make disciples and serve as an example for others to follow?
According to recent research that was conducted, a majority of fathers have a sense of feeling they are failing. They feel like they are not doing enough, they are failing as a leader for the family, they are exhausted.
If you’re like some fathers in our community, you go to sleep regretting how the day went, thinking you’re not doing enough for your kids.
Take a moment to pray. Prayer is the best tool available for joining Jesus on mission. It is both easily accessible and powerfully effective. Prayer will keep you on your knees and will connect you with God.
The ultimate goal of discipleship is to connect the Great Commission with new disciples in ways that provide examples of how to live and love like Jesus did.
Have gospel conversation, build relationships, be transparent through your prayer life. Your leadership structure will change drastically.