There’s a concept popularized by the Puritans that says every home should be a little church.
BSC photo by Chad Austin
Evette Orcutt demonstrates how she would organize and teach foundational biblical truths to children. Orcutt serves as church administrator and ministry specialist at Central Baptist Church in Wendell.
“If every home is a little church, how can we equip those families who want their homes to be a little church?” asks Cheryl Markland, childhood evangelism and discipleship consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
Markland posed the question to a gathering of pastors, church staff and lay leaders at one of two recent “Building Faith-Filled Families” events sponsored by the state convention. Markland and Merrie Johnson, the state convention’s youth evangelism and discipleship consultant, co-led both events which were held
Sept. 15 at First Baptist Church Matthews and Sept. 16 at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton.
The goal of the events was to help equip churches to develop a comprehensive ministry plan in which pastors and church leaders partner with families to disciple children from birth to adulthood. Markland and Johnson led attendees in an interactive presentation and discussion that focused on creating a disciple-making culture in the local church.
Part of creating a disciple-making culture involves helping church leaders and families understand how they can work together as partners in the disciple-making process. Helping parents and grandparents understand their role as disciple makers at home is vital, Markland said, because of the amount of time they have to invest in the lives of their children and grandchildren.
To illustrate this point, Markland held up a jar that contained 168 marbles. She took three marbles out and held them up before the audience.
“There are 168 hours in a week,” Markland said. “On a good week as church leaders, we may have two or three hours (with children). We try to make those hours really count, but who has the rest?”
An effective family disciple-making strategy must be supported by pastors and other church leaders and communicated in such a way in which the congregation understands the vision. Church leaders should also align the ministries of the church with the vision, while providing training and equipping to parents.
Such a strategy is rooted in what Johnson called “next generation ministry,” which includes an intentional plan by church leaders and parents to work together in teaching and nurturing spiritual truths and spiritual growth from an early age.
Under a next generation ministry approach, preschool, children’s and student ministry leaders should work together and with parents to introduce foundational biblical truths from birth and then build upon those truths as a child grows and matures.
“When you’re rocking that baby in the nursery, you should be laying the foundation of who God is and what God’s Word says,” Johnson said.
Johnson encouraged church leaders to work within their ministries and with parents on developing goals and benchmarks that coincide with a child’s age and stage of development, keeping in mind the overarching goal of heart change and life transformation. Johnson and Markland said the booklet Growing in God’s Word: Levels of Biblical Learning, developed by LifeWay Christian Resources, is an excellent tool for church leaders and parents.
“Basically, we are trying to shape their hearts for Christ and guide them into living out their faith,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Markland said the “Building Faith-Filled Families” events were intended to cast a vision for a holistic approach to disciple-making at home that includes and involves both the church and the family.
They are planning more trainings for churches and church leaders beginning in the spring of 2017.
“Next generation ministry is all about partnering with parents as we all do our best to raise children who will become young adults who have a passion and vision for serving God,” Johnson said.