The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there.Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian
“Go therefore and make disciples” Matthew 28:19
The call to make disciples isn’t a new one. It is as ancient as the Christian faith, given by Christ himself before His ascension into heaven.
The journey of a disciple isn’t a new phenomenon. Christian Scripture and history are both filled with stories and testimonies of people who have come to know and follow Christ, from young to old, from all over the world.
The information about when that discipleship journey begins for most current Christians isn’t new. In 2015, it was reported that 63% of Christian adults started their discipleship journey between the ages of 4-14 (Source).
But here is what is new.
Barna Group has recently completed a study focused on children’s ministry that has yielded some important information about how that discipleship journey plays out. They shared this information recently at the Awana Child Discipleship Summit and here is what they found: It wasn’t enough for a child to be simply be involved in children’s ministry at their church in order to engage in the formative practices and meaningful characteristics of a disciple. There needed to be more, another integral step, another piece to the puzzle: Relationship.
They discovered that when kids have a meaningful relationship with an adult in the church, they are twice as likely to have an ongoing relationship with the church.
They are three times more likely to be engaged in Scripture including understanding the metanarrative of Scripture and integrating biblical principles in their life.
They are twice as likely to say church matters to them, three times as likely to see church as a highlight in their week, and three times as likely to read the Bible on their own.
The conclusion drawn by the researchers at Barna Group? (and I quote) “The meaningful relationships individuals have as a children fundamentally influence the stability of their future faith.”
Now, here’s the reality check: Only 2 out of 5 kids in children’s ministry have a positive, meaningful relationship with a mentoring adult.
Two. Out of Five. That’s only 40% of kids in children’s ministry at a given church.
Even more telling than that. Only 53% of churchgoing adults identified “Have a loving, caring relationship with an adult” as an outcome for children’s ministry (75% of ministry leaders agreed). That means half of adult church members and a quarter of ministry leaders did not see developing a meaningful relationship between younger and older generations as an identifiable goal and desired outcome for ministry to children.
Re-read this quote from Reinhold Niebuhr again.
The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there.
The call to make disciples has always been here. Our children have always been here. Paul spoke directly to them in the letters he wrote to the church. Jesus put a child in the middle of all his disciples and declared the least to be the greatest in the kingdom of God.
It is time to take radically the call to welcome children and not hinder them.
It is time for us to create spaces and make room for children and youth and young adults to grow with us, worship with us, learn with us, serve with us, laugh with us, cry with us, question and doubt and argue and debate with us, to be in relationship with us so as to become disciples of Jesus with us.
J.T English in his book Deep Discipleship states, “Community is indispensable to discipleship, but community is not discipleship.” The two go hand-in-hand.
If we are not cultivating spaces in our churches and faith communities for our youngest and our oldest and all the generations in between to develop meaningful relationships in community and learning, we are missing out on our call to disciple-making.
It’s not new but it is time for us to take radically that which was always there.
If you have ever felt alone in your heart for intergenerational ministry, if you have ever wondered what the next right step is or been curious about how you can best serve your church’s discipleship or mentorship ministry, then a ReFocus Ministry Coaching Cohort might the place for you.
ReFocus Coaching Cohorts provide ministry leaders with the opportunity to expand their leadership skills in a twelve-week shared learning experience. Facilitated by an experienced coach, a cohort group of 7-10 individuals from multiple faith organizations meet weekly to explore and apply the principles of leadership in generational discipleship, intergenerational ministry, and church culture transition. Through extensive exploration, inquiry and dialogue, the coach and fellow cohort members help participants identify their role in generational discipleship within their faith community and deepen their leadership capability.
NEW COHORT FORMING FALL 2022
- Accountability and growth within a community of like-minded ministers
- Access to resources available only to cohort members, including up to one year of monthly personal coaching
- Real-life moments and collective learning within the group that can be addressed by both the coach and the other members.
- Ability to participate in ReFocus presenter platform as a local ReFocus representative.
Included in Coaching Cohort Package
- Twelve weekly trainings/Zoom calls with coach.
- Choice of 1 webinar with resources for church/congregation (for use within one year of cohort start).
- Family Faith Formation TALK TOOLS curriculum (Digital download available after first 12 weeks).
- One year of monthly, 30-minute, one-on-one coaching conversations.
- Access to private Facebook group for cohort members only.
- Lifetime 10% discount on all ReFocus seminars, workshops, webinars, and/or coaching packages
For more information or to speak to someone about any questions, please fill out the contact form below with the Subject of “ReFocus Coaching Cohort”
For more information about…
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Discipleship in Intergenerational community
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- Seminars, Workshops, Coaching
About this Blog
Refocus Ministry was founded by Christina Embree in 2014 as a blog and now a nonprofit coaching and consulting ministry. Christina serves with her husband Luke and three children as church planters and pastors at Plowshares BIC. She speaks conferences and churches around the globe and also serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ.
With over a decade in family ministry and children’s ministry, she is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home, equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith, and nurturing intergenerational community in the church. She holds a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry from Wesley Seminary and is currently completing a doctorate of ministry in spiritual formation. blogs at refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, ChurchLeaders.com, and Seedbed.