- Are you burdened for the children growing up in your home and church to trust in Christ?
- Do you wonder if you're doing the right things to lead them to saving faith?
- Have you lost heart in your efforts to teach and guide the next generation?
The next generation needs parents, teachers, and church leaders who are zealous for their discipleship. But where does zeal come from and what does it look like day to day?
In Zealous, long time pastor and Truth78 Executive Director David Michael describes a fervor and diligence born out of a passion for God and His glory and presents seven commitments that provide a vision and framework for your discipleship of the next generation...so that they might set their hope in God (Psalm 78:1-8).
Embrace a Biblical Vision for the Faith of the Next Generation
Having a vision is crucial for discipleship of children and youth. As a vision-oriented leader you consider where you are going—clarifying your goals—and then you carefully develop and implement an intentional plan in pursuing those goals. By having a long-term vision one can more effectively develop a discipleship strategy that evaluates every program, activity, curriculum, and resource in terms of the greater vision.
Foster a Robust Partnership Between the Church and Home
God has called both the church and home to raise up the next generations to know, honor, and treasure God through Jesus Christ. This is accomplished through a strategic, loving partnership between the church and home. This partnership affirms that parents by proximity, opportunity, and God’s design, bear a unique responsibility for nurturing their children’s faith. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-7.) This partnership also affirms the role and responsibility of church leadership to provide encouragement and training for parents, as well as the formal instruction for children and youth.
Teach the Breadth and Depth of the Whole Counsel of God
This generation is to teach the next generation the whole counsel of God—a core knowledge of the breadth and depth of Scripture that is essential for coming to salvation in Christ and living a life of faith. Teaching the whole counsel includes five elements that each address specific and essential questions: Bible Survey and Book Studies (What's in the Bible? Who is the Bible about?), Biblical Theology (What's the main message of the Bible?), Systematic Theology (What are the essential doctrines of the Christian faith?), Gospel Proclamation (What do we need to be saved? How are we saved?), and Moral and Ethical Instruction (How are we to live?).
Proclaim the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
The gospel is simple yet amazingly profound, freely offered yet extremely costly, and should be communicated as such. While the gospel can be simply conveyed to children, our approach should not be simplistic. We are to lay a solid, deep foundation by clearly and patiently presenting the key essential truths of the gospel found throughout the Bible. Through repeating and explaining these with increasing depth, we hope to help children see the splendor, majesty, and holiness of God, the enormity of their sin problem, and the immeasurable love and grace of God in Christ, resulting in true repentance and genuine belief.
Disciple the Mind, Heart, and Will
For children to personally know, embrace, and apply biblical truth, we need to disciple the mind, heart, and will. Toward that end, we must diligently instruct the mind, providing them with the proper tools and skills needed to rightly read, study, interpret, and apply Scripture.
While fully acknowledging that only God can bring Spirit-wrought, grace-dependent faith in Jesus, and lead us to walk as His faithful disciples, it is our responsibility to engage the heart—to guide, inspire, and implore children toward a personal and sincere response to God’s truth.
Finally, true saving faith will be evidenced by a growing desire to walk in obedience to God. While this is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit, God does expect His children to exert effort, choosing daily to trust Christ, submit to Him, and follow in obedience. Therefore, we guide, challenge, and encourage students to specific Christ-like thoughts, words, and actions.
Pray with Dependence on God's Sovereign Grace
This generation of parents, pastors, and teachers cannot escape the responsibility they have for nurturing the faith of the next generation, and there is no way to escape the reality that the children of the next generation will only be saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Saving faith for any child “is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one [no parent, no pastor, no grandparent, no Sunday school teacher] may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s unstoppable purposes for our children and our inescapable responsibility to raise them in the faith come together in prayer.
Inspire Worship of God, for the Glory of God
If our zeal is conformed to God’s zeal, and if our efforts are aligned with God’s purpose, then the aim of our discipleship will be the glory of God so that His greatness and His worth will be known throughout the earth and throughout the generations. When we rightly emphasize God’s glory when declaring His glorious deeds, the natural response of the heart is worship. The proclamation of God’s glorious deeds in a God-glorifying way inspires children to worship God to His glory and their joy in Him.