Teaching Kids About Discipleship

Teaching Kids About Discipleship - Parenting Like HannahWhen our children are old enough to really understand the concept of sin and the impact of sin in their lives, we call that the age of accountability. Scriptures teach us when each of us reaches that age, we have a decision to make. We must decide if we will obey God and be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins, or walk away and live our lives in pursuit of our own desires.

Probably the happiest day for a parent (after the birth of their child), is the day their child is baptized.  In many homes, Bibles are searched and studied as the child prepares to make the most important decision of his life. Then the day arrives when your child walks into the baptistry and is immersed for the reemission of her sins. Many parents breathe a sigh of relief. If the child is close to adulthood, the sigh may be huge!

In many homes, the training and Bible studies cease. Your child is a Christian and will grow (or not) in faith as time passes. Unfortunately, when that happens, we miss an enormous opportunity to teach our children about discipleship and how that affects the way they live their lives.

Discipleship is a word many churches no longer use, because some people have chosen to abuse the word and use it to control others. It is sad, because the Biblical concept of a disciple is so rich and can add so much to the Christian walk of our children. The closest thing to a disciple we have in modern society might be an artisan’s apprentice, but discipleship is so much more.

In my next post, I will give you some ideas for helping your children become active disciples. Today, I want to share some things I learned about disciples during the time of Jesus. I think having this background will help us model our own discipleship a little better.

  • Disciples were very common in the time of Christ. They followed various rabbis (teachers).
  • A person had to request from the rabbi permission to become a disciple. Without the permission of the rabbi, one could not become a disciple.
  • Disciples often sacrificed careers, homes, family and friends to travel around with the rabbi, often under harsh conditions.
  • The disciple was to place the needs of the rabbi over even the needs of family. The saying was basically, “a father only gives you life, but the rabbi gives you wisdom”.
  • Disciples had to agree to totally submit to the rabbi’s interpretation of the scriptures and how it applied to their lives.
  • Disciples had significant daily interaction with and teaching from their rabbi.
  • Disciples were expected not to just follow a list of rules, but understand why they were rules.
  • Disciples often copied everything about their rabbi.
  • Disciples were viewed as zealous, enthusiastic supporters of their rabbi.

Jesus had those same expectations of his disciples and even added a few more that were not common in his time.

  • Jesus expected his disciples to serve others.
  • Jesus expected his disciples to act as brothers and not “rabbi” each other.
  • Jesus encouraged women disciples.
  • Jesus focused not just on the words and actions of people, but mainly on their hearts.

You can see, discipleship is hard to achieve by just showing up for Church services once a week and praying at meals. In my next post, I will give you some ideas of practical ways to help your children move towards becoming active disciples of God.

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Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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