How we got here.
This section is for those who want to know how DiscipleZone Resources got started and why. As you read about the journey of the past few years you’ll quickly see that it’s more than a series of events; it’s an unplanned series of events with an unexpected outcome.
I had been serving as the Children’s Pastor at Grace Church in Cleveland, Ohio when I found that children in my ministry who wanted to be baptized did not always understand what they were doing or why. My concern was that when they got older and wiser about following Christ, they would want to be re-baptized. As a result I began asking parents to have their kids complete a baptism booklet that I came across. I also made available a companion booklet on communion. Hundreds of these booklets were used over next several years. When the rights to the booklets were sold to a publisher the price nearly doubled. So in early 2010 I began searching for a replacement. Finding none that I really liked, I sensed that the Lord was prompting me to write one. The process was completed by the fall of that year and the brand new booklet, Want Water? What Baptism is All About for Kids, began to be used by families in the church.
The response was very positive not only from parents but from others on the church ministry staff. In fact, they felt the booklet would be well received in other churches. In the meantime, I wrote a companion booklet on communion, Hungry for More? What Communion is All About for Kids. It too was well received. That’s when I decided to test the interest of other churches. In early 2011 the first booklets were sold outside Grace Church. As the word got around, other churches began using the baptism and communion booklets.
Then came the development of The Good News in Colors for Kids. When I learned about a church with a member who manufactured silly bands in specially designed gospel shapes and colors I got the idea of adding a simple gospel tract to help kids understand the meaning of each silly band so they could share the good news with their friends. Hundreds of these witnessing tool kits have been put into use, including a Spanish version that has been used by teams on short term missions trips.
The idea for Walking with Jesus, A Step-by-step Guide for New Christian Kids, was born out of a concern that children who were becoming Christians through the ministries of Grace Church, were being given a follow-up tract that was too simple to get them off to a healthy start in their new life as a follower of Jesus. Now with Walking with Jesus for Kids, kids have a much more realistic idea of how to live as a Christian. And in the summer of 2012 an adult version of Walking with Jesus for Kids was released. The decision to write an adult version came after reviewers of the draft of the children’s version commented that they wished they had had something like this when they became Christians as adults.
One other resource that was released in 2012 is Raising Up A WorldChanger in Your Family. Seeing how parents struggled to know what to do when their children were sensing that God may be calling them into vocational ministry or missions, I decided to write a basic guide to assist them in providing support and direction. Ministry and missions has always been a part of the DNA at Grace Church and this tool helps nurture a ministry mindset in even the younger ones among us.
Long before any of these resources, families in the church were using the SilverSword Bible Memory Program. The idea was to equip kids age 2 through 6th grade with a set of 96 key Bible verses that they would recall for a lifetime. Hundreds of kids have master-memorized thousands of verses over the years and received both spiritual and material rewards for doing so. In addition to the core verses, bonus verses are included for the child who is motivated to take Scripture memory to the next level.
When two members of the original Walking with Jesus for Kids focus group commented that they wished they had received something like this when they became Christians as adults, I realized that the ideas were suited to any new believer, regardless of age. So I took the original ideas and presented them in a way appropriate for adults. Illustrations were changed; layout and graphics were changed; concepts and chapters remained the same. One unforeseen benefit of having two versions is that a new Christian parent and a new Christian child can learn together using the version that is appropriate to their age. Walking with Jesus for Adults was released in the summer of 2012.
Long after these resources were in use in many churches the Big Idea of what has developed became clear to me. DZR is not a random assortment of resources. DiscipleZone Resources is a unique collection of coordinated resources designed to disciple pre-teen children when they arrive at six specific milestones on their journey with Christ. Without guidance and encouragement at these pivotal times, children stall or regress in their spiritual development.
- Milestone 1: Salvation. When a child wants to become a Christian share the gospel using The Good News In Color for Kids Witness Kit.
- Milestone 2: First Steps. When a child begins the Christian life give them Walking with Jesus for Kids. [Also available: Walking with Jesus for Adults]
- Milestone 3: Bible. When a child gets serious about using the Sword of the Spirit equip them with the SilverSword Bible Memory Program.
- Milestone 4: Baptism. When a child is ready to go public with their faith supply them with Want Water? What Baptism Is All About for Kids.
- Milestone 5: Communion. When a child asks to participate in the Lord’s Supper provide them a copy of Hungry for More? What Communion Is All About for Kids.
- Milestone 6: Ministry. When a child commits to a life of service give the parents Raising Up a WorldChanger in Your Family.
DZR provides what is needed when a child personally decides to take the next big step in their Christian experience.
One factor that makes these resources for discipling children and adults so relevant and engaging is that they were all born out of a very obvious need. And with the experience of raising my own daughters and now having influence in the lives of grandchildren, I’ve been privileged to learn along the way and practice what I’ve learned.
As with Abraham who was called to leave his homeland without knowing where his journey would end, I began this journalistic journey not knowing at all that it would be where it is now or where it will end. But that’s all right because the One beside whom I am walking knows exactly where we’re going. As for me, I’m just trying to keep up.
Who we are.
I am not alone. I write but there is someone else who helps people want to actually read what I write. Her name is Sue and she’s fantastic at what she does. Do you like the layout of the resources? Thank Sue. Do you like the colors in the booklets? Thank Sue. Do you like the pictures and graphics on every page? Again, thank Sue. She loves what she does and she loves doing it for the Lord and for you.
As for me, you can learn more on the About the Author page.
Why we do what we do.
One supportive wife, three super daughters, one fantastic son-in-law and three grandchildren motivate me. I love kids – young and old-er. Wise Solomon said, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I believe that. That’s one reason that working with kids is so rewarding. And even when I’m no longer doing that in ministry, I’ll still be a dad to my children and a grandpa to my grandkids…and loving every minute of it. They are worth every minute’s attention, every eye to eye connection and every word spoken in season.
Two books that have highly motivated me are Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions by George Barna and Almost Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer. According to the studies conducted by these men, there’s no time to waste in discipling kids to be all-out followers of God. What’s most important to them is largely settled by middle school. I want it to be the Lord Jesus. That’s why we aim to provide the very best Christian resources for kids. They’re never too young to learn, but they may get too old.
What we believe.
I figure anyone looking to buy Christian materials will want to know what the author believes. So here’s the statement of faith for The Christian and Missionary Alliance that I signed years ago. I still believe it today.
There is one God, who is infinitely perfect, existing eternally in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the true God and the true man. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He died upon the cross, the Just for the unjust, as a substitutionary sacrifice, and all who believe in Him are justified on the ground of His shed blood. He arose from the dead according to the Scriptures. He is now at the right hand of Majesty on high as our great High Priest. He will come again to establish His kingdom, righteousness and peace.
The Holy Spirit is a divine person, sent to indwell, guide, teach, empower the believer, and convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.
The Old and New Testaments, inerrant as originally given, were verbally inspired by God and are a complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men. They constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice.
Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God: he fell through disobedience, incurring thereby both physical and spiritual death. All men are born with a sinful nature, are separated from the life of God, and can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The portion of the unrepentant and unbelieving is existence forever in conscious torment; and that of the believer, in everlasting joy and bliss.
Salvation has been provided through Jesus Christ for all men; and those who repent and believe in Him are born again of the Holy Spirit, receive the gift of eternal life, and become the children of God.
It is the will of God that each believer should be filled with the Holy Spirit and be sanctified wholly, being separated from sin and the world and fully dedicated to the will of God, thereby receiving power for holy living and effective service. This is both a crisis and a progressive experience wrought in the life of the believer subsequent to conversion.
Provision is made in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing of the mortal body. Prayer for the sick and anointing with oil are taught in the Scriptures and are privileges for the Church in this present age.
The Church consists of all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, are redeemed through His blood, and are born again of the Holy Spirit. Christ is the Head of the Body, the Church, which has been commissioned by Him to go into all the world as a witness, preaching the gospel to all nations. The local church is a body of believers in Christ who are joined together for the worship of God, for edification through the Word of God, for prayer, fellowship, the proclamation of the gospel, and observance of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
There shall be a bodily resurrection of the just and of the unjust; for the former, a resurrection unto life; for the latter, a resurrection unto judgment.
The second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent and will be personal, visible, and premillennial. This is the believer’s blessed hope and is a vital truth which is an incentive to holy living and faithful service.