Jesus taught us "cause or permit the little children to come to me" (Luke 18:16)

Discipleship of Youth

Youth ministries abound and MATTHEW 25:34-40 has multiple forms of discipleship programs for youth of ages from preschool to young adult. Our different youth programs are sensitive to the culture, but always based in the Bible. The programs are also sensitive to the "spiritual age" of the youth; this allows us to train new converts or youth who have been involved most of their lives. The programs seek to involve parents to as great an extent as we can. We want to make sure that our youth grow into adulthood with a love of Christ, a love of God's word, and a love for serving the Lord in everything they do in life.

Throughout the youth discipleship programs, we teach children about the nature and person of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and how to communicate with God through Prayer with thanksgiving. We find that the questions children ask at the youngest ages develop as they grow spiritually, so teachers are taught how to find out what each child's heart is asking and then showing them answers in a Biblical context. The stories of Daniel, Samuel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Ruth, David, Gideon, Deborah, Jonah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Samson have valuable lessons for youth. Of course, we can't omit the stories of the life of Jesus, our Lord.

Preschool youth programs focus on telling Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments. A favorite commercial resource is the International Children's Bible, which has a limited vocabulary and is well illustrated. We usually seek to encourage these children to start learning to read. Most of our Preschool programs are done together with parents, so the program is vicariously effective in the discipleship of some parents. We want the youth to be able to tell the Bible stories accurately from memory. We supplement Bible stories with appropriate activities to help them remember each story.

Primary age youth (from 5 through 9) programs focus on teaching them to read and understand the Bible. In many places, we use the Bible in conjunction with a modified "New England Primer" adapted to local languages. (We also use the Primer in our English as a Second Language program.) We encourage Bible passage memorization, but we also use activities that demonstrate to the leader the level of understanding each youth has. A popular activity is for a group of youth to design a play or write a song or some other creative method of teaching a Bible story or Bible principle from materials they have read. Bible games are also popular. In most cases, youth in these programs are able to witness to their peers and explain their Christian witness and personal testimony. Athletic competitions help in team building, but the same teams are used in Bible game competitions.

Middle school youth (10 through 14) programs develop their understanding of the Bible further. We encourage them to memorize and teach or explain the principles taught in a Bible book of their choice. An adult full-testament Bible accurate in the local/national language is used (where available). Bible games are popular. Youth are teamed in both Bible and athletic game competitions. We seek to use games that fully utilize the skills the different youth have developed and demonstrated. Bible-based activities are encouraged where the youth apply what they have learned to help meet needs in the local community in works of service. Multi-congregational competitions are sometimes conducted several times a year. Middle school youth start helping congregational leaders in their ministries.

High school/collegiate youth who have stayed in the full programs from primary ages are developed into teachers and disciple makers. We teach them basic apologetic principles and tools. Some serve in church congregations as deacons or as pastor assistants. They are learning all of the principles of prayer, Bible interpretation, leadership, Grace, etc. In many regions, they are preparing to marry and getting married, so they receive principles of marriage. But everywhere, there is an emphasis on using their gifts, talents, and passions in a manner of glorifying Christ. Upon getting married, assuming a vocational job/work, and raising a family, the youth transition to "young adult programs."

We like to have multi-group activities involving youth of all ages to undertake special projects at different times of the year. Frequent examples include Christmas, Easter, and Harvest Festival (Thanksgiving) pageants and other holiday activities (adjusted to different local, regional, and national holidays) where we are teaching and illustrating the "memorial purpose" of the holiday (how we are giving thanks to God within the holiday - even the secular holidays have a good, godly purpose behind them if we look at them through the eyes of Scripture). We like for youth and adults to work together in outreach project and community projects; in these, make sure the adult leaders include the opinions and talents of all of the youth appropriately and to demonstrate bathing each activity in prayer.

The discipleship programs are designed and conducted at the congregational level. In addition to our Ministry Resources, we also have many Ministry Associates. Some of the international Associates include Answers in Genesis, Awana, Bible League, Calvary Chapel Sunday Schools, Child Evangelism Fellowship, Josh McDowell Ministries, Navigators, and Summit Ministries; each of these have unique resources which have been adapted for use by local congregations. Pay special attention to the "Discipleship Resources" of this Ministry.

We work with our Ministry Association congregations to have senior youth/young adult career preparatory ministries, including for those anticipating military services (especially in nations having a military draft program). In these ministries, we try to pair elders who are in different vocations with young people considering such a career. On this sort of ministry, we develop a spiritual perspective on the vocation (especially how community interests are served) and what kinds of temptations are often encountered. Sometimes, we help multiple congregations share their vocational resources. Where possible, the young people might be able to participate in an apprenticeship program.

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Grace Course

Grace is one of the most important concepts of the Christian faith. We need to thoroughly understand its nature and application in our daily lives.

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Biblical Interpretation Course

How to properly interpret the Bible is an essential duty of every believer. This Course covers what the Bible says about interpreting the Bible.

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Biblical Leadership

Biblical Leadership is the collection of resources used to conduct the Biblical Leadership Course, including handouts.

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