Are you signed up?

Posted: August 3, 2011 in Church, Discipleship, Pastoral Ministry, Uncategorized

First grade teacher, Linda, wrote about an interaction she had with one of her students on the first day of school. Accustomed to going home at noon in kindergarten, Ryan was getting his things ready to leave for home when he was actually supposed to be heading to lunch with the rest of the class. Linda asked him what he was doing. “I’m going home,” he replied.

Linda tried to explain that, now that he is in the first grade, he would have a longer school day. “You’ll go eat lunch now,” she said, “and then you’ll come back to the room and do some more work before you go home.” Ryan looked up at her in disbelief, hoping she was kidding. Convinced of her seriousness, Ryan then put his hands on his hips and demanded, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

In just over a week, the children will return to school. Whether they go to public or private schools, or should their parents take up the mantle of teaching through home school, our children will settle into routines quite different from the summer. It won’t take long before many of them will protest just like Ryan did. However, we know the value of education, and therefore, we insist that they “stay in the program.”

As believers, we can find it easy to feel a little like Ryan when we consider the Christian life. The requirements seem daunting—“Surely the Lord doesn’t expect me to forgive seventy times seven!” and “Surely He doesn’t want me to turn the other cheek when someone hurts me!” and “What does He mean, ‘take up my cross’?” Before long, we complaining, “Who on earth signed me up for this program?”

Over the last several months, God has taught me the meaning and the value of Jesus’ model of disciple-making. One clear observation we’ve made: you cannot disciple believers at arm’s length. Rather, disciple-making requires a more personal and close relationship.

Jesus discipled His followers in a small group—no more than twelve at a time. Certainly, He taught large numbers of people on occasion; however, the real disciple-making took place one-on-one, or with three, or with a half-dozen, or with the twelve.

Next week at our church, our preschoolers, children, and junior high and senior high students will “promote” to the next class for the year. This applies to Sunday morning Life Groups, choirs, and AWANA. Believing that they need faithful and maturing adults to disciple them, I want to ask you to consider serving in one of these ministries. We want to maintain the best possible student/leader ratio in all these age groups and ministries.

Will it involve a sacrifice? Probably. You may have to forego your own adult group on Sunday morning or Sunday evening or Wednesday evening. I expect that those who have children will participate in sharing the leadership at one of these times. However, do not presume that if you no longer have children participating in these ministries that you no longer need to help out. You likely have more time and certainly have much to offer in ministry to preschoolers, children, and youth. (By the way, more than half of those serving in the youth ministry have already graduated their children from high school.) You certainly have much to offer!

By the way, I believe you’ll be glad that someone “signed you up for this program.”

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