Replanting a Church: Education, Part 1

We are working through an article by Scott Thomas on replanting an existing church, that is, renewing a church so that it grows and matures as a church plant does.

Scott’s fourth point involves education for discipleship —

c. Envision how education and discipleship could be effective (Acts 2:42).

  1. How will it become a passionate pursuit of the body (“continue steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine”, Acts 2:42)?
  2. What resources (people, qualities, gifts) do you have in place to launch greater disciple-making?
  3. How will the fathers and heads of households (single moms, etc.) be trained to be the priest and spiritual head of their homes?
  4. How will the older men and women teach and interact with the younger men and women? (Titus 2)
  5. Will the age groups be segregated (children, youth, singles, college, married, etc.) or will they be integrated into the body?
  6. What role will small groups play?
  7. What training will be needed to help develop disciples who are passionately pursuing Christ?

This covers a lot of territory — and territory that we often don’t discuss.

Let’s start with the last point: how do we develop disciples who passionately pursue Christ? My first instinct is to think in terms of Bible class curriculum. I rather doubt that this is the best answer. Neither is the sermon. Nor the small group curriculum.

You see, passion can’t be taught that way. Now, we can encourage discipleship through these things, but they are not enough. They aren’t even the core.

The key to teaching discipleship is demonstrating discipleship — and taking people with you. Jesus preached sermons and taught classes, but his most important teaching was what he did. When Paul or Peter tells us to imitate Christ, it’s not Christ’s teaching that Paul emphasizes. It’s his life.

(Phil 2:5-8)  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

(1 Cor 11:1)  Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

(1 Pet 2:21)  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

(Rom 15:2-3)  Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

(Eph 5:1-2)  Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Our congregation needs men and women whose example the others should follow. We are often afraid to say, “Follow my example,” as though this would be boasting, but Paul said this repeatedly. And we and our children need flesh and blood examples.

We need testimonies where members talk to the church about what God has done in their lives. We need the speaker to honor members who’ve done what Jesus would’ve done. We might use a missionary as an example of commitment to God.

When the preacher goes to do a good work (which he should do, of course), he should take a younger member or two with him and show them how to do it. The teen minister should be searching out young men and women to train in ministry by giving them leadership tasks suitable to their maturity. The elders should be seeking out men who will one day be elders and give them pastoral and oversight work. And they should show them how to do it.

Now, this is not natural in our church culture. It’s not. But young men and women are desperate for godly examples. And they should be bold enough to ask to go along. They should ask for classes on how to study the Bible or how to comfort the mourning and how to organize a ministry, recruit volunteers, train the next generation, and such.

And all this should be surrounded with excellent, formal instruction in the classrooms and from the pulpit. It’s just that these should be seen as supporting instruction, not the core of instruction.

Addressing the educational needs of the church more specifically, we need regular, repeated courses on parenting — courses that address how to raise children who will have a passion to be like Jesus. The teen ministers can’t do it. The parents can do it, and the teen minister can support the parents. But if the parents don’t have a passion to pass down, it’s awfully hard to convince the kids to be more passionate about Jesus than their parents.


Here are the keys —

1. Your children need to see you regularly make decisions for Jesus and against your own self-interest. They need to see you give away your football tickets so you can go to a retreat. They need to see you give up vacation time for missions. They need to see you decide to keep that car 3 more years so you can give money to Compassion International.

2. Your children need to see their father being a spiritual leader. I don’t mean “spiritual leader” as in “boss of the house.” I mean some who leads in spiritual matters — who is the first one to suggest the need for prayer, to insist that the family go to church even though they have company from out of town, to tell his kids to skip all stars and go to the Honduras mission trip instead — because serving Jesus is more important than baseball.

It’s not that the wife shouldn’t also be a spiritual leader. She should. It’s that your children won’t really buy into Christianity until dad buys in, too — especially if you have sons.

3. Mom and dad need to both be involved in children’s ministry. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but small children are not abstract thinkers. They won’t understand that dad and mom love Jesus until dad and mom teach Bible class and tell them how much dad and mom love Jesus. Be sure your kids don’t grow up having never heard a Bible lesson from both of their parents. TEACH YOUR KIDS AT HOME AND AT CHURCH. Church is not a vacation from your kids. It’s a great chance to show your kids how much Jesus means to you.

And so, if we were to envision this re-planted church, we’d have to envision a church where instruction in parenting for Jesus is a high priority — maybe the highest. What’s the point of being a Christian and not passing it on to the next generation? If we don’t, Christianity dies with us, and I wouldn’t want to face Jesus with that on my record!

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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One Response to Replanting a Church: Education, Part 1

  1. jamesbrett says:

    There's a quote I'e forgotten, something like… "A good leader never does anything alone." You reminded me of it, talking about a preacher taking a young member along with him, etc. Great idea.

    Also, many spiritual men, whom I look up to, firmly believe every Christian needs to at all times be involved in two mentoring relationships — one in which they are the mentor, and the other in which they are the mentoree. [We say mentoree, though it seems that rules of English would make the word 'mentee.']

    Being more intentional in just these two ways would benefit us a great deal when it comes to education in our churches. When I was a kid, we focused on knowledge alone, and rarely talked about application — much less witnessed and practiced it alongside a more mature believer.

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