Fifth grade is a pivotal year in children’s ministry as preteens prepare to enter youth ministry.
The start of fifth grade is a great time to take stock of what our children have learned so far as evidenced by their faith walk and talk. You may discover it needs to be a “catch up” year with dedicated time for deeper levels of discipleship so children are prepared for youth ministry in light of what our youth leaders hope they know, believe and do as they build upon their spiritual foundation.
What are we doing now to achieve this vision of developing a fully formed disciple of Christ in our children’s ministry?
For every fifth grader who has been part of a children’s ministry for several years, here are some basic questions they should be able to not only answer, but also believe and do as they enter youth ministry.
- Do they know who Jesus is, and what is the gospel? Hopefully, preteens have made the decision to become a Christian, but if they have not, every fifth grader should know how to share the plan of salvation with another person.
- Does your children’s ministry have a clear, concise gospel presentation that you not only share with children, but is also taught to them so they can share the wonderful gift of Jesus?
- Do they embrace the priority and importance of spiritual disciplines in daily living? Consider disciplines like prayer, Bible reading, worship, journaling and Scripture memory.
- Have they been taught the purpose and power of prayer?
- Do they recognize how God can speak through the Bible today?
- Do they know how worship tunes our hearts and minds to the will of God?
- Do they know the pleasure of journaling or using devotion guides?
- Is Scripture memory part of spiritual devotions your church practices?
- Have they had opportunities to serve in the context of the Great Commission, and do they have a clear understanding of why they serve?
- Do they have a clear understanding of what it means to be a disciple of Christ? Jim Wideman, national children’s ministry leader, has a beautiful way of expressing this when he says, “It’s time we all move past just getting children saved and help them to live saved.”
- Do they understand the infallibility of the Bible and that the Bible is the one big story of God, told through many smaller stories of His work in the lives of different people and groups throughout history?
- Do they understand that they are part of the church today through participation in corporate worship and the church on mission in their community and world?
- Do they understand who the Holy Spirit is and His work in communicating and leading us as disciples of Christ?
- Do they know how the Holy Spirit expresses the will of God for their life?
- Do they have a strong understanding of creation as the work of God?
You may have other ideas for foundational understandings and actions that fifth graders should know, believe and do. The bigger question is, what are we doing now to achieve this vision of developing a fully formed disciple of Christ in our children’s ministry from infancy through fifth grade?
When is the last time you assessed the effectiveness of your ministries in this context? Now is a great time to start.