Each year I am privileged to lead a group of 40ish people on an in-depth study tour of the land of Israel. We study the biblical text in context but not in the usual way. Instead we hike the land from Dan to Beersheva and try to pattern our experience around the ways of the rabbis. We use the teaching methods of Jesus imploring the full range of senses and emotions by engaging your head, your heart, your hands, and your feet in the experience. Our goal is simple. In 12 days we want to make disciples who will take the message of Christ to the world just like his original disciples did. Quite a mission.
I am fascinated by the Rabbi, Talmidim relationship. In the Hebrew context this is the relationship between the master and the disciple. In today’s Israeli culture I often see the Rabbis with their disciples in obscure places in the wilderness and in very obvious places like the Temple Mount. The first time I saw a Rabbi leading his disciples I was shocked. The disciples are children. They sit at his feet to hear his teaching and they walk in his dust as he leads them to the next contextual picture he would like to show them. He has chosen these children as his disciples believing that one day, they will be just like him. The children are following the rabbi in the hopes that one day, they will be just like him. Likely, they will. They will walk like him, pray like him, teach like him, even gesture like him. This relationship yields the rabbi incredible influence in hopes of hurling his teachings into the next generation that they might love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. I think this is part of the reason that Israel has remained through so much trial.
The model of the Rabbi spurs me on toward investing in children deeply as the stewards of the gospel in the next generation. This idea touches me both as a parent and as a pastor. If we want to see children become missional in their youth and adult life, how we disciple them now makes all the difference. Here are some key principles for discipling children to live on mission.
- We disciple best in close relationship. Consider Rabbi Jesus and his relationship with his disciples. Everything he teaches them and they experience together is in the context of heart connection. If we want children to embrace the mission we are on we will have to lead them toward it in relationship.
- Discipleship that spurs children toward missional action is experiential. We can’t just tell children about missions. In order for it to sink deep into their bones, they need to experience it with us. Classes and curriculum are nice, but get in the field with children.
- Demonstration is key to missional success. If we take our cues from the methods of Jesus, then we learn that we must show children how to live on mission. Jesus showed his disciples everything. How to pray, how to preach, how to meet the needs of people, and how to confront spiritual forces of evil. Later, the disciples would do all of this as they carried the gospel from Jerusalem, into Judea and Samaria, and finally to the uttermost parts of the world. Our children need to see us do it so that they can do it themselves.
When you and I live on mission and take children with us, teaching them along the way, we will cultivate disciples that carry the gospel to the world.
For more information on our Israel Experience visit http://www.legacymilestones.com/israelstudytour
2 thoughts on “Disciple Children for Life on Mission”
Question: how do you help them understand the context of the current conflict? How do you teach them to love Palestinians and seek justice over against the brutality of the Israeli occupation?
Well, that’s a pretty loaded question, but a good one. With our children.. we take them to experience and know people in Israel and Palestine and others in the Middle East. We teach them that their mission is greater than the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and we demonstrate how to love people on both sides of the wall; hopefully in ways similar to Jesus. We come carrying the gospel message laced in love and hands-on-service. In my opinion, the Israeli’s nor the Palestinians need my 2 cents on the current situation but they all need our love, respect, and offer of the gospel. We pursue relationships out of genuine love. We also try and teach our children humility in this situation. Doubt you are satisfied with my answer but that’s how we roll. It’s a challenge and my thoughts on how to practically navigate these issues are constantly developing. I love Israel. My wife’s family is from Lebanon. I partner with Christian’s in Palestine. We work with Muslim’s here and abroad and we love all of them. It’s complicated to navigate sometimes but I think we are in a unique position to do it.