By: Crystal Mazzuca
What do you hope for the future of the kids in your ministry? From week to week, you plan, prepare, and execute sessions and experiences with the hope that kids will see and recognize their need for a Savior and put their trust in Jesus. What comes after that? We all want kids to see that following Jesus isn’t a one-time decision but a daily walk and surrender to Him.
This is where things can get a little tricky–kids are very concrete thinkers. How do we help them go beyond the understanding of salvation as a one-time decision to following Jesus as a transformational lifestyle? This is where the importance of spiritual disciplines comes in.
“Being set apart means living in ways that glorify God instead of being shaped by the patterns of behavior of the broken world that doesn’t know or acknowledge Him. It means choosing to live life shaped by the words, ways, and actions of Jesus.” Flip the Script, pg. 83
Following Jesus changes identities. When kids put their faith and trust in Jesus, their position before God changes, and they are now set apart. They have a special purpose. They get to know, follow, and glorify God in amazing and incredible ways. Salvation isn’t something that simply secures their eternity. Salvation is something that transforms their today and every day. Each and every day is an opportunity to know and grow in this special purpose of being set apart.
“So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2
Part of being set apart is having minds that are set on things above. This means actively developing a mindset that is centered on the things of God–choosing to change what we are thinking about to be centered on God instead of centered on our circumstances. This isn’t something cultivated in an hour and a half on Sundays. This is something that needs to be developed day in and day out.
Spiritual disciplines like reading the Bible and prayer are an incredible start to establishing this mindset. We don’t want kids to read the Bible because it’s what they’re supposed to do or pray because they’re simply asking for things. We get to teach them to truly engage with God through these methods because it will help them know and grow in a way that sets them on this set-apart path. Kids discover more about purpose, meaning, identity, and God’s plans through these disciplines.
As we share with kids the importance of these practical disciplines, let’s dive deep into why they matter and what they bring. We don’t do these disciplines because it’s the right thing to do. We do them because this is how we grow to know God and be more like Christ every day—which is what we were made to do.
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22
Spiritual disciplines don’t just stop with reading the Bible and praying. We get to help kids know that following Jesus means we do what the Bible says and follow what He tells us through prayer. Our lives get to be a reflection of what He’s teaching us. We get to practice the discipline of surrendering and submitting. We get to practice the discipline of obeying. Our actions glorify God when we practice saying yes to Him and no to ourselves.
We never want kids to think their salvation is tied to their actions. But we do want them to understand that a big part of following Jesus is living a life that reflects Him and the way He created us to be. Our actions are evidence that we are set apart and saved by Him.
In our ministries, we have the incredible opportunity to lay a foundation of spiritual disciplines for kids. So, let’s teach with a heart that sees what these disciplines mean for identities and help kids grow into adults that live set apart, glorifying the Lord.
Crystal Mazzuca is a Content Editor for Lifeway’s Hyfi and Kids’ Short Term Studies. With an MA in Christian Education Administration, she has a passion to encourage and equip leaders to impact the next generation for Christ. She’s spent the last 20 years in Kids, Student, and Family Ministry and loves serving both the big C church and her local church in Olympia, WA. Crystal loves reading, going to the beach, and playing video games with her 3 sons.