It is a daunting discovery when we realize that, as the Church, we are the ones responsible for supporting parents in discipling the next generation in our distributed churches as well as providing one another with the support, accountability, and grace we need as the spiritual leaders of our children.
How can a distributed church provide this for families?
Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” – Matthew 19:14
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6
For children and teens:
Provide a weekly place for the next generation to learn stories from the Bible and how to apply them.
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-9
“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” – Philippians 3:17
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.” – Luke 10:27
Encourage parents to embrace the new mindset of being a disciple and making disciples. Their sons and daughters learn how to respond in life by watching how their parents respond in relationships, in conflict, in success, in failure, in disappointment, and in those moments when we give in to temptation.
Discipling our sons and daughters is not as simple as developing godly habits such as praying, attending church, or doing acts of service. It is a daily walk where we are modeling the attitude of Christ and the daily navigation of His greatest commandments. (Luke 10:27)
Your distributed church is unique, so in your quest to provide a weekly place for the next generation to learn Bible stories and how to apply them, it may take time to find the best fit. Check out the options below, or design your own plan. With prayerful consideration and some trial and error, you can develop a plan that fulfills our responsibilities to the next generation and our calling as disciples making disciples together.
In addition to your distributed church gathering, encourage parents to take their children and teens weekly to a traditional church gathering that offers Sunday School classes (such as NACD at Longwood, Mount Dora, or Oviedo) or a local Bible Club (such as Awana) to learn Bible stories, how to adapt them to their lives, memorize scripture, and worship with their peers. At your distributed church gathering, include the children and teens in the meal, worship time, and prayer. If your distributed church has an adult Bible study, that would be a good time for the children to enjoy supervised free time, since they have already learned the Bible story and life application at the larger gathering.
At your gathering, include the children and teens in the meal, worship time, and prayer. As a group, read and discuss The Worship, The Word, & The Way take-home devotionals: Daily Way and/or Ponder, Pray & Play. Then, to allow adults to have more mature conversations, the teens can organize a recreational time for the younger children. The take-home devotionals (Daily Way/Ponder, Play & Pray) can be downloaded from ResourceWell.org/childrenministry.
Lifeway offers three studies, each with separate workbooks for children, teens, and adults, so that every age may study the selected topic on their own level. The three Bible studies are Explore the Bible (book by book), Bible Studies for Life (navigating everyday issues), and The Gospel Project (understanding the whole story of scripture). This reasonably priced curriculum offers a variety of elements including a study plan for every age, interactive iOS and Android apps, media components, online helps, and Family Connection take-home tools. For more information, go to www.Lifeway.com/go.
At your gathering, include the children and teens in the meal, worship time, Bible reading, and prayer. During the adult Bible study, have one adult teach the children and teens a Bible story using The Worship, The Word & The Way curriculum (available at ResourceWell.org/ children-ministry).
This free downloadable curriculum explores the stories of God from Genesis to Revelation in a threeyear cycle. Adaptable elements include Bible readings, discussions, crafts, games, puppet sketches, and online videos of the sketches as seen in Northland’s Children’s Church. We suggest having a few adults alternate as teachers, so everyone can regularly take part in the adult fellowship. Northland’s global curriculum team is available to train and help you adapt it the curriculum to your specific needs. Adaptations for children with disabilities are also available.
Download the free Scope & Sequence of The Worship, The Word & The Way from ResourceWell.org. Use this guide to select Bible stories (appropriate for all ages) for everyone in your distributed church to walk through the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation. For ideas on discussion topics and life applications, be sure to check out the teacher guides and take-home devotionals for each Bible story.
American Bible Society publishes 30-day studies for all ages as well as for families.
In Bible Trek: LUKE, all ages go through the book of Luke together. You’ll find daily devotionals for every age as well as a Family Discussion Guide at www.NowLuke.com
Acts TRACKS, a study of Acts, is available at NowIsTheTime.AmericanBible.org
Both studies are available online as well as in magazine format at www.Bibles.com
Include everyone in the meal, worship time, Bible reading, and prayer. After reading the passage from Acts together, adults, teenagers, and children can break out to study the meaning at their own level.
Include all ages in the meal, worship time, and prayer. While the adults participate in their devotional/discussion, an adult or older teenager can read and visually illustrate a Bible story using the KIDStory storyboard and Bible curriculum. This curriculum includes a Bible story discussion using the Socratic teaching approach. It can be purchased from www.kidsaroundtheworld.com.
Adapt the KIDStory Bible curriculum for everyone in your distributed church to walk through the Bible together from Genesis to Revelation. Worship together and discuss the story’s life applications over a meal. Allow time at the end for adults to have further discussion while the children and teens enjoy recreational play. This curriculum includes a Bible story discussion that uses the Socratic teaching approach. It can be purchased at www.kidsaroundtheworld.com.
Include all ages in the meal, worship time, and prayer. If the adults are participating in The First Principles Series study (www.Bild.org), one adult could lead the children in The Apostles’ Creed Study available at www.ResourceWell.org/childrenministry/other, or the Young Disciples Series, which will also be available at www.resourceWell.org.
Choosing Curriculum: When selecting curriculum for adults, teens, or children, check to see whether the curriculum seems to be more God-centered or man-centered. For example, if the overview or table of contents focuses on who God is, what He has done, and how we can serve and love Him according to His Word, that will serve your church better than one that focuses on the human heroes of the faith and how to be more like them.
More about teenagers: Know your teens… the teenage years are not one-size fits all! Take the time to ensure that each teenager in your gathering has the opportunity to grow, learn, and to be lead. Some teenagers learn best by teaching the younger children. Some need time with peers or time alone to discover ways to apply God’s Word to their lives. Be flexible in adapting any of the options above.
For more information on ways to serve the families in your distributed church, go to: www.resourcewell.org.