Keeping Children’s Discipleship Alive and Well this Fall – 3 Scenarios

How do you respond when your spacecraft is critically damaged, the initial mission is a failure, and the death of your astronauts seems eminent? According to the movie Apollo 13, the director of NASA states, “This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever experienced.” No stretch of the imagination there! However, another voice speaks into the dire situation saying, “With all due respect, sir, I believe this is going to be our finest hour.” Leadership envisioning a second perspective is what saved the day.

In some sense, these two perspectives reflect the manner in which many churches and families are looking at the year ahead for children’s discipleship. With all the uncertainties due to COVID-19—the cancellations, disruptions, anxieties, stress, lack of people willing to volunteer, and parents feeling overwhelmed by added responsibilities, etc.—some may conclude, “This year could prove to be a disaster for children’s discipleship.” But I want to encourage the second type of response instead:

“By God’s sovereign grace, through Christ-dependent, Spirit-empowered diligence, I believe this could prove to be our finest year yet as we see children awaken to the gospel and grow in their faith!”

How can churches cast a vision like that? What kind of leadership and equipping is needed? What will it take to keep children’s discipleship alive and well and flourishing? Here are four basic commitments on which to focus:

Toward that end, we would like to address three different scenarios to diligently disciple children in these difficult and uncertain times. Find your scenario based on this decision tree and then see the recommendations for that scenario below.

Plan curriculum based on how classes are able to meet together in person.

Some churches are planning for Sunday school and midweek programs to resume as normal in age-appointed classes using curricula that follow the regular scope and sequence plan. However, some churches need to offer a hybrid model. Here is what a hybrid may look like:

  • One larger, intergenerational class with families sitting in socially distanced groupings.
  • Classes that combine more age groups to reduce staffing needs.
  • Using a curriculum that gives greater flexibility to respond to possible future changes.
  • Moving the normal Sunday morning teaching time to midweek classes.

If you are considering offering a hybrid model, Truth78 has resources to help you. Here are some recommendations:

Whether teaching in person as usual or using a hybrid model, if at all possible make a video recording of the teaching session that can be sent to those who are not able to participate in class.

Additionally, here is a free training seminar, “Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How." 

Provide remote teaching and home support.

If at all possible, during this very disruptive time, it is preferable to provide children with teaching that is age-appropriate and continues the scope and sequence in a seamless manner. This will help ensure that you stay on course in proclaiming the breadth and depth of the whole counsel of God. What would this option entail?

  • Equipping and training teachers to present their lessons through video/digital means. (This can be done by teachers recording their lessons at home or by recording them at church.)
  • Providing parents with instruction and tips to help their children use and benefit from the teaching videos.
  • Providing students with the corresponding workbooks/notebooks in either print or digital form.
  • Provide parents with the corresponding lesson parent pages in either print or digital form.
  • Regular contact with parents and/or students to encourage and pray with and for them.

If it is not feasible to do remote teaching for every grade level included in your regular scope and sequence, consider using one curriculum or resource to span the entire family. Here are some recommendations:

Partner with parents in teaching home-based material.

Some churches have determined that is it not yet feasible to meet in person or provide remote teaching. But the church can and should do whatever possible to encourage and equip parents to diligently disciple their children at home. In this scenario, it’s important for the church to follow up with parents on a regular basis to see how it’s going and address any problems. Truth78 has a variety of resources designed for use in the home. Churches can recommend and even provide these resources for families.

  • Lord, Teach Us to Pray Family Kit—Intergenerational, 13 lessons
  • Glorious God, Glorious Gospel—Intergenerational devotional, 15 chapters with accompanying notebook for older children and coloring book for younger children.
  • The Making HIM Known series—Easy-to-use, 15-minute devotionals for elementary-aged children. (See this example of David Platt leading his family in a devotional from the book God's Names in the Making HIM Known series.) Each of the eight titles includes 26 chapters and has been based on a specific Truth78 curriculum. See how Making HIM Known books align with Truth78 curriculum here

What challenges are you facing in your discipleship plans for the fall? We'd love to hear specific questions from you, especially as we are preparing future blog posts and an upcoming webinar. Send your questions to [email protected] and use the subject line "A question for Jill."