Children have always been close to the heart of God and as followers of Jesus it is our responsibility to protect, nurture, and pass our faith to children. In Small Matters: Why Children are Such a Big Deal, authors Greg Nettle and Santiago "Jimmy" Mellado offer a model of discipleship that encourages parents to raise up the next generation to be deeply committed to and in love with Jesus. When we awaken to the fact that children between the ages of four and fourteen are the most likely to make a decision to follow Jesus, and that the discipleship that children receive forms their future, it will transform the way we view children, invest in them, reach out to them, teach them and ultimately, empower them to be disciples of Jesus. In recent history the church has embraced a model of discipleship that encourages parents to "Bring your children to us and we will disciple them. And, by the way, we would love it if you would help." This model is ineffective as much as it is unbiblical. It is imperative that the church today shifts to a new model of discipleship that encourages parents to "Disciple your children as your primary responsibility. And, we (the church) would love to help." Because our world is becoming more and more sensitive to the needs of children, a reflection of the heart of God, it provides those of us who follow Jesus with an unprecedented opportunity to disciple children in our homes, in our churches, in our communities and throughout the world. Now more than ever people are willing to invest in the cause of children through new church planting, equipping children's ministries, child sponsorship-all of which are committed to holistic child development.
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