Discipling Children During and Beyond a Time of Disruption

Our families and churches have never experienced anything like the COVID-19 pandemic. A month into churches being unable to meet in person and families spending unending hours together, we are realizing that profound long-term changes may be emerging. Recently, the Wall Street JournaI ran a special feature asking the question, “How will the pandemic change our world?” It opened with this observation, “As the crisis deepens, it will transform the way that we think about family and business, health care and high tech, politics and the arts.” The piece featured leading figures in those fields discussing the challenges and the opportunities in those areas for our uncertain future.

In the interview here, we extend that question to ask, "How might the pandemic change how the church and families disciple our children?" Timothy Paul Jones, from Southern Seminary, and David Michael, executive director of Truth78, answer that question for parents, teachers, and church leadersoffering guidance during and beyond this time of significant disruption. Additionally, David shares a timely vision and framework for discipleship found in the newly released book Zealous: 7 Commitments for the Discipleship of Children (available at Truth78.org/zealous).

Pray for Hannah

Shortly after this interview was recorded, Timothy Paul Jones asked for prayer for his oldest daughter Hannah, who was in the hospital on a ventilator awaiting results of a coronavirus test. Later, he shared a link to an article ("Healing and Hope") in World Magazine, that included a story about what Hannah and his family were experiencing. At the time this is being posted, Hannah has increased in her oxygen capacity, but is still working toward fully breathing on her own. UPDATE: On April 20th, Hannah was released from the hospital. Praise God.

Video link for interview

Excerpt of transcript: 

Steve Watters: So David, this passion that you have to present a glorious vision of God to children at a young age, and this desire to see a partnership between families and churches in that discipleship, something you were bringing to this book--how do you see the opportunity of this book at this particular time, even though it was a book that you had finished before anything that we're experiencing now took place, how do you see this as a helpful book for parents and churches now in a new world?

David Michael: Well, the book was written in part to inform, we really brought together in this volume what we've been saying for the last 25 years in terms of the convictions that have guided us when we talk about our vision for the next generation, to dream the dream that we were dreaming back in the mid- to late-nineties about what could be for the next generation we want, we've captured that in the book.

But the main reason for writing it was to try to ignite a zeal for the discipleship of the next generation. And what makes it so timely is it's not going to be my words--my words will never ignite a zeal, but the Lord has his way to make us passionate about these things. And what's happened in this season now in our history is that God has done something that makes us feel passionate, makes us feel urgent about this need to just faithfully disciple our children, to give them more than what we've been giving them in our churches and in our homes.

Steve: So David, where does that kind of zeal come from for someone who says, I just don't necessarily feel that urgency, that motivation and passion?

David: I think that zeal is there already. When there's a crisis, you find that sense of urgency, that zeal, that passion to do something. So we're feeling the crisis right now and it feels real urgent. Churches are feeling like, ooh, what happens if we can't teach our children or if our children are not taught during this extended season? Our parents are feeling that urgency, so it's happening, without us necessarily doing it. The bottom line is that God is the one who awakens zeal. I can't create passion in my own heart for something.

God does that work. There are things that we can do to open ourselves up for it. So one of the things we've seen with working with teachers over the years is we may recruit somebody into teaching a Sunday school class. They may do it for various reasons. Not all of them because they're so zealous and passionate about the discipleship of the next generation, but what happens is in the context of teaching, God awakens zeal where you begin to see kids responding to the truth when you have to dig into the truth and realize how precious it is. And so one of the most effective ways to ignite a zeal for the discipleship of the next generation is to invest yourself in the discipleship of the next generation.

See full transcript.