Zealous for the discipleship of the next generations

“Do not be slothful in zeal,” the apostle Paul urges, “be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Romans 12:11). More than ever, the next generation needs parents, teachers, and church leaders who are zealous for their discipleship. But where does zeal come from? And what does zealous discipleship look like day to day?

Read Zealous

In Zealous, long time pastor and Truth78 executive director David Michael describes a fervor and diligence born out of a passion for God and His glory and presents seven commitments that provide a vision and framework for your discipleship of the next generation...so that they might set their hope in God (Psalm 78:1-8). READ AN EXCERPT

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Get support and encouragement for growing in zeal and applying the 7 commitments of discipleship for the next generations:

Having a vision is crucial for discipleship of children and youth. As a vision-oriented leader you consider where you are going—clarifying your goals—and then you carefully develop and implement an intentional plan in pursuing those goals. By having a long-term vision one can more effectively develop a discipleship strategy that evaluates every program, activity, curriculum, and resource in terms of the greater vision.



  • Develop a vision statement for your own family and communicate it to your children.
  • Establish family routines and habits that place the highest priority on knowing God’s Word, faith in Christ, and growing in His ways. 
  • Set age-appropriate spiritual goals for your children. Teach, train, and pray toward those goals. Commit yourselves to a biblical, local church for training, equipping, encouragement, and accountability. 


Print-Friendly PDF of Commitment #1

God has called both the church and home to raise up the next generations to know, honor, and treasure God through Jesus Christ. This is accomplished through a strategic, loving partnership between the church and home. This partnership affirms that parents by proximity, opportunity, and God’s design, bear a unique responsibility for nurturing their children’s faith. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-7.) This partnership also affirms the role and responsibility of church leadership to provide encouragement and training for parents, as well as the formal instruction for children and youth.

  • Work through the following "Five Ways Your Church Can Foster a Partnership with Parents" (which are detailed here)
    1. Clarify roles and expectations
    2. Provide parents Truth78 curricula GIFT pages
    3. Connect parents to the classroom experience
    4. Introduce parents to vision-casting resources
    5. Recommend discipleship resources for the home
  • Additionally:
    • Teach a seminar to new parents impressing on them their God-given responsibility to be faithful faith nurturers of their children. Resource parents with effective faith-nurturing tools (e.g., stock a resource table with excellent resources for parents to purchase; resolve to purchase solid resources for the discipleship of the next generation for your church library; put a list of recommended resources on your website).
    • Listen to the seminar "Involving Parents in the Classroom" and put some of the ideas into practice.
  • Work through the following "Seven Ways Parents Can Partner with Their Church" (which are detailed here)
    1. Become familiar with the children's and youth vision and philosophy of your church
    2. Offer to serve the church in discipling children and youth
    3. Prioritize family participation in the life of the church
    4. Partner with your children's ministry teams
    5. Use the Truth78 GIFT pages to disciple your children
    6. Encourage, support, and pray for your leadership
    7. Use and recommend discipleship resources for the home

Print-Friendly PDF of Commitment #2

This generation is to teach the next generation the whole counsel of God—a core knowledge of the breadth and depth of Scripture that is essential for coming to salvation in Christ and living a life of faith. Teaching the whole counsel includes five elements that each address specific and essential questions: Bible Survey and Book Studies (What's in the Bible? Who is the Bible about?), Biblical Theology (What's the main message of the Bible?), Systematic Theology (What are the essential doctrines of the Christian faith?), Gospel Proclamation (What do we need to be saved? How are we saved?), and Moral and Ethical Instruction (How are we to live?).

  • Encourage your child to use an appropriate Bible reading program that will expose him or her to the scope of the Bible.
  • Read through the Bible as a family (Your “read through” may be determined by the age of your children).
  • Expose your child to a wide variety of solid biblical materials.
  • Teach your child the inductive Bible study method (see The Inductive Bible Study Handbook).
  • Read a comprehensive Bible story book with your children (Genesis to Revelation). More Than a Story helps parents explore the breadth and depth of the Bible in an interactive way.
  • Teach the catechism to your children (see Discipleship through Doctrinal Teaching and Catechism for rationale, ideas and resources). 
  • Read through the Making Him Known book series.
  • Determine which verses you want your child to memorize and then memorize those verses together as a family.  [See FighterVerses.com and Foundation Verses]

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The gospel is simple yet amazingly profound, freely offered yet extremely costly, and should be communicated as such. While the gospel can be simply conveyed to children, our approach should not be simplistic. We are to lay a solid, deep foundation by clearly and patiently presenting the key essential truths of the gospel found throughout the Bible. Through repeating and explaining these with increasing depth, we hope to help children see the splendor, majesty, and holiness of God, the enormity of their sin problem, and the immeasurable love and grace of God in Christ, resulting in true repentance and genuine belief.

  • Lead fathers through a seminar explaining to them how to prepare their children for baptism. (See Established in the Faith by David Michael.) 
  • Lead families through the Ten Essential Truths from Helping Children to Understand the Gospel
  • Teach Jesus, What a Savior to your kindergarten/first grade class and To Be Like Jesus to your upper elementary class. 
  • Encourage children to be present when you are baptizing new believers. Articulate the gospel at this time or encourage those being baptized to give a robust profession of faith and an explanation of the gospel.
  • Preach a series carefully and comprehensively explaining the gospel.
  • Listen to the following Truth 78 conference plenary talks: 
    • God is the Gospel by John Piper
    • Teaching the Richness of Entire Gospel, Parts 1 and 2 by Wayne Grudem
  • Read Helping Children to Understand the Gospel explaining each of the Ten Essential Truths and/or using the devotional section.
  • Read God’s Gospel by Jill Nelson with your children.
  • Read The World Created, Fallen, Redeemed, Restored by Sally Michael with your children
  • Share your testimony with your children or invite someone else to share his/her testimony.
  • Read a missionary/Christian biography together as a family.
  • Go through Established in the Faith by David Michael with your child.
  • Use Glorious God, Glorious Gospel as a family devotional.

Print-Friendly PDF of Commitment #4

For children to personally know, embrace, and apply biblical truth, we need to disciple the mind, heart, and will. Toward that end, we must diligently instruct the mind, providing them with the proper tools and skills needed to rightly read, study, interpret, and apply Scripture.

While fully acknowledging that only God can bring Spirit-wrought, grace-dependent faith in Jesus, and lead us to walk as His faithful disciples, it is our responsibility to engage the heart—to guide, inspire, and implore children toward a personal and sincere response to God’s truth.

Finally, true saving faith will be evidenced by a growing desire to walk in obedience to God. While this is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit, God does expect His children to exert effort, choosing daily to trust Christ, submit to Him, and follow in obedience. Therefore, we guide, challenge, and encourage students to specific Christ-like thoughts, words, and actions.

  • Encourage your children’s workers to read Teaching to Change Lives by Howard Hendricks or Creative Bible Teaching by Lawrence Richards.
  • Distribute the Truth 78 Core Training Series document on Leading Small Group Application to your children’s workers. 
  • Incorporate an “application time” (a time to engage the heart and influence the will after the Bible lesson) in your Sunday school and/or midweek classes.
  • Distribute the Truth 78 Core Training Series document Preparing and Teaching a Lesson to your children’s workers. 
  • Encourage your teachers to listen to the Truth78 seminar The Importance of Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation and to read the article Encouraging Active Minds in the Classroom.
  • Train your children’s workers how to have application discussions with children.
  • Gather your children’s workers together to listen to small group application and small group leading seminars and discuss ideas for implementation in each classroom. Reaching the Heart: The Importance of Application and Small Group Leading: Nuts and Bolts 
  • Encourage your teachers to listen to the Truth 78 seminar Teaching to Reach the Heart
  • Make the parenting books listed below (Application at Home) available in your church library or bookstore. Consider gifting new parents with one of these books when their first child is born (or the first child born since attending your church).
  • Read one or more of the following books: Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp, Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd and Margy Tripp, Teach Them Diligently by Lou Priolo, The Disciplemaking Parent by Chap Bettis, Gospel-Powered Parenting by Bill Farley
  • When you “walk by the way” make practical application of Bible truths or verses to everyday situations.
  • Teach the catechism to your children. (See Discipleship through Doctrinal Teaching and Catechism for rationale, ideas and resources.)
  • As a couple, make a strategic plan as to how you will disciple the mind, heart and will of your child. Be specific and start with one simple idea.
  • Use The Inductive Bible Study Handbook in your instruction of older elemenary children and youth.
  • Have a regular family devotional time.
Recommended resources for Christian education directors
Recommended resources for parents

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This generation of parents, pastors, and teachers cannot escape the responsibility they have for nurturing the faith of the next generation, and there is no way to escape the reality that the children of the next generation will only be saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Saving faith for any child “is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one [no parent, no pastor, no grandparent, no Sunday school teacher] may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s unstoppable purposes for our children and our inescapable responsibility to raise them in the faith come together in prayer.

  • Listen to the Truth 78 seminar Prayer: Utter Dependence on God in Children’s Ministry.
  • Encourage children’s workers to pray regularly for the children in their classrooms.
  • Encourage nursery workers to pray for each baby each week.
  • Post prayer topics or verses on the walls of your nursery or classrooms and encourage workers to pray weekly for the children.
  • Encourage your Sunday school and midweek teams to pray together before each class.
  • Listen to the Truth 78 seminar Praying Steadfastly: A Call to Parents
  • Decide on a strategy for praying for your children and implement it. 
  • As you read your Bible each day, use the passages you just read as a springboard for praying for your children.
  • Bless your children each night as you put them to bed. 
  • Pray with your children spontaneously—“at all times” not just at meal times and bedtime.
  • Read a book on prayer to inspire or equip you to pray: Radical Prayer by Monty Kline; A Praying Life by Paul Miller; Prayer Pathways by Kathi Lambrides Westlund. 
  • Keep a prayer journal for each of your children.

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If our zeal is conformed to God’s zeal, and if our efforts are aligned with God’s purpose, then the aim of our discipleship will be the glory of God so that His greatness and His worth will be known throughout the earth and throughout the generations. When we rightly emphasize God’s glory when declaring His glorious deeds, the natural response of the heart is worship. The proclamation of God’s glorious deeds in a God-glorifying way inspires children to worship God to His glory and their joy in Him.

  • Establish a family worship time.
  • Choose Bible resources that clearly highlight and give honor to the majestic greatness and worth of God. (i.e. “Glorious God, Glorious Gospel”, “Making Him Known” series.)
  • Learn hymns as a family. Talk about the concepts and theology taught in the hymn (perhaps choose a hymn a month to learn).
  • Participate in the Getty Family Hymn Sing.
  • Explore nature with your children and marvel at the creativity, wisdom, and power of God. Keep a nature notebook noting how creation reveals the glory of God.

Print-Friendly PDF of Commitment #7