Cradle-to-Grave Discipleship

April 1st, 2013
This article is featured in the Families in the Family of God (May/June/July 2013) issue of Circuit Rider

The Four Areas of Focus include “developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world.” Emphases and goals have been established around recruiting young clergy into full-time Christian service as well as developing young-adult ministries. But developing principled Christian leaders includes the full shaping of Christian faith from cradle to grave. Leaders who are able to guide others in making disciples and transforming the world through faith in Jesus Christ don’t just appear or sprout up somehow. They come from intentional discipleship formation, and they come from many, even unlikely, groups of people.

Whenever we baptize an infant, child, or young person, we’re committing ourselves to “develop principled Christian leaders for the church and world.” We continually claim that the church isn’t what it was fifty years ago, but we often continue to try to offer education and formation as if the family is the same as it was fifty years ago. It used to be that “Christian education” and formation occurred in the home. Then, most American families began to rely upon Sunday school to teach and shape children and youth in the faith. Now, families attend Sunday school or Christian education less regularly, and many families long for churches that help them develop principled Christian leaders in their own children and grandchildren’s lives. Families are changing, just as our culture is changing, and they need the church’s help to share the faith with the next generation.

The articles in this issue raise some of the questions that vital congregations need to address in order to provide vital ministry to families. If there’s anything harder than being a child these days, it’s being a parent, especially in sharing the faith with the next generation. We need to develop “vital families” so that we have vital Christians in vital congregations who are making disciples and changing the world!

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