when a child believes: a case study in missional discipleship

Yesterday my church offered a family service in our gymnasium where our children’s ministry normally meets. Because we knew numbers would be down due to the holiday, we decided to bring those that remain together to celebrate the Lord and our nation’s birth. It was an inspiring time of worship, declaring our allegiance to Christ first and foremost, and also to the USA. It was also a time of authentic community.

Round tables with chairs were set up so that people could communicate with each other, especially during the serving of the Lord’s supper near the end of the service. Most of the children were seated with parents and guardians. Except for two sisters. They walk to church alone each week from their apartment next door on the same side of the street. The older girl is in 4th grade; the younger is in preschool.

They love coming to church every week. They brave wind, rain and cold. They smile each time they come. They feel like they belong. And yesterday, for the first time, understanding began to dawn.

As the communion elements were passed around and shared by the grownups, they indicated that they did not understand what it all meant. One of the perceptive adults at the table then had opportunity to explain it in terms they can understand. With child-like faith, they believed.

They had already belonged, but now they believe. Discipleship had already been going on, and now it will continue with a new understanding, a new relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ they now serve.

This is one real-life example of missional discipleship in action. It takes place in the context of trusting relationships. It thrives in healthy soil where trust and the gospel are clearly lived out.

They declared their independence from the dominion of darkness. They have new liberty in Jesus Christ, and now will learn to walk in that liberty in the days to come. We will walk with them insofar as we are able, recognizing the challenges they face in a home which apparently does not serve Christ.

While we rejoice in their decision to believe, we recognize our responsibility to develop with their parents the same level of relationship so that they also may one day believe.

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