By definition, a disciple is someone “who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” Therefore, the answer to the title question would appear to be, “No.” Most preschoolers have yet to trust Jesus as their Savior and Lord, the first step in becoming His disciple. However, God can use us to build foundations for discipleship in the lives of preschoolers.
Lifeway’s Levels of Biblical Learning® informs us on some ways in which we can do that:
- Model discipleship by reading the Bible to preschoolers and praying out loud, using familiar vocabulary.
- Tell babies and toddlers that Jesus loves them and that Jesus did everything God told Him to do.
- Remind the youngest preschoolers that God has plans for them and helps them grow like Jesus grew.
- Teach three- and four-year-olds that the Bible teaches what Jesus did and God wants people to learn from Jesus.
- Help five-year-olds understand that Jesus died on the cross and is alive and that people who love Jesus want to obey Him.
Admittedly, the suggestions above are very basic. And, that’s the point. Our role as leaders, teachers, and parents is to lay the groundwork so that when a child does receive God’s gift of salvation through Christ, he or she will already know some foundational discipleship truths.
So if we allow ourselves some latitude, the answer is, “Yes, preschoolers can be discipled through the teachings of the Bible in preparation for a fuller expression of discipleship after they become true Jesus followers.”
Landry Holmes is the Manager of Lifeway Kids Ministry Publishing, Nashville, TN. A graduate of Howard Payne University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Landry served on church staffs before coming to Lifeway. He is a church leader, writer, workshop facilitator, and publisher. Landry also teaches children at his church in Middle Tennessee. He and his wife Janetta are the grandparents of two adorable grandbabies.