I’ve been reading “Resilient – Child Discipleship and the Fearless Future of the Church” by Valerie Bell. Valerie challenges readers to consider what the role of the Church will be in their lives in 2050. Valerie makes the case that the local church needs to champion and participate in “Resilient Child Discipleship.”
She defines “Resilient Child Discipleship” in the following way,
“The process of a Christ-follower committing meaningful, intentional and consistent time and space to a child or a group of children so that they may know who Jesus is and are known by a body of believers (Belong), to place their faith in Jesus and apply the Word of God (Believe) and to reproduce their own discipleship (Become) so that a third spiritual generation can lead and live like Jesus Christ.” (pg. 166)
Valerie is making the case that for our kids to have a “Resilient Faith,” they need “Resilient Discipleship,” and the best way to develop and grow that kind of faith is in the context of the local church. When the local church helps kids Belong, Believe and Become.
She defines these three words through every kid’s typical experience in the local church, KidsMin (think Village Kids and Village Youth).
- Belong: Highly relational ministry led by loving and caring adults
- Believe: Deeply spiritual ministry rooted in the truth of God’s word and the power of the gospel.
- Become: Truly experiential ministry designed to move kids from simulation to real-world application of faith-based learning.
Kids need the local church to help them Belong, Believe and Become.
Kids NEED Relationships
Everyone needs relationships. It’s hardwired into us by God and drives so much of what we do and who we are. Kids need the local church to help them Belong because it’s filled with loving and caring adults who can help a kid be seen, heard, and loved.
Kids NEED Jesus
Kids need to know who Jesus is, what he has done and why he changes the world. We can hope and pray that kids meet and find Jesus, or we can be intentional and bring them to a place where we know they can have an opportunity to learn about and encounter him. Yes, a kid or an adult can come to know Jesus outside the local church. But God, in his wisdom (even though it’s messy and imperfect), set up the local church to be an expression of his hands and feet in our world. Thus, the local church plays a role in helping kids BELIEVE in Jesus because you can almost guarantee he is being talked about.
Kids NEED Experiences
Most people, especially kids, learn best by trying. Just watch a little child play with a new toy. They don’t read the instruction manual; they poke it, shake it, drop it, and eventually learn how to use it. We can talk about what it means to BECOME like Jesus until we are blue in the face, but if we want our kids to have a resilient faith, they need to see people outside their own family and experience wrestling with what it means to follow Jesus.
I think kids need the local church not to “save” them but to help them Belong, Believe and Become to develop spiritual resilience, “A quality that describes the spiritual elasticity of a child or adult. The resistant strength to bend and flex, but not break against the weight of culture.” (pg. 13)
The Church’s future will be challenging, and I think we need a generation of Christ-followers with spiritual resilience. But like Valerie Bell, I believe resilience is best formed not in isolation but in the context of the local church community. And if you ask me, I think there are a few adults in the local church that could learn something from a kid with a resilient faith.