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Judah & Chelsea Smith: I Will Follow Jesus

Thanks for checking out I Will Follow Jesus — this special sneak peek of a feature article in the Mar/Apr 2016 issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine.

Now subscribe today and get more great articles like this one—delivered to your mailbox and tablet—all year long!


Judah and Chelsea Smith talk about why they’re passionate about leading the next generation to follow Jesus.

Judah and Chelsea Smith are the lead pastors of City Church, a multi-site church in Seattle, Washington. They may be best known for writing best-selling books, ministering to celebrities, and speaking to some of the largest churches around the world—but their greatest passion is raising their three children to know and love Jesus.

Recently, Judah and Chelsea sat down with Children’s Ministry Magazine to share insights about how children’s ministries can partner with and equip parents to lead their children spiritually.


CM: Leading children into a relationship with Jesus is something many parents feel ill-equipped to do. Why do you think it’s so important for children’s ministers to help equip parents in this regard?

Chelsea: We have an expression that parents are the pastors of their home. Children’s ministers are incredible, but at most you get two hours a week with a roomful of kids. Parents are with their children day in and day out. They see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Just having that conviction and knowledge that you’re the pastor of your home—you see that as your primary role for your children. Our number-one job is to lead our kids into a personal relationship with Jesus, and that’s our standard for success.

Judah: The partnership between parents and kids’ ministers is pretty imperative. Our hope is that children’s ministers would have a beautiful, legitimate partnership and friendship with parents, even if it’s brief and casual. And that partnership includes empowering, encouraging, and infusing parents with the courage and faith it takes to raise a human being. Our passion, and what led to our new book, I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook (Tommy Nelson), is to put tools not only into parents’ hands, but also into children’s ministries—as the Scripture says, “to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.”

CM: What specific ways can children’s ministers partner with parents to help them lead their children spiritually?

Chelsea: One of the most exciting things we do as a church is Family Fun Time. Every week, for every age group, we send kids home with discussion questions. As a parent, you know you want to have meaningful, spiritual conversations with your children, but knowing where to start can be so intimidating. Ministries that give tools to parents for how to start those conversations are a huge help.

Judah: And so much of partnering with parents is the conversations you have with them before and after church. That’s where it starts. A three-minute conversation with a volunteer or leader in children’s ministry can go a long way for inspiring a parent’s heart and soul throughout the week.

Chelsea: We also really see the value of encouraging parents to serve in the kids department. Really giving the parents the “why” behind the “what.” The “why” is that it’s so important for parents to come and sow into the life of their kids in a spiritual environment. Parents serving in children’s ministry can really do something for the confidence of a child.

CM: What are children’s ministries today getting right? What would you like to see happening in children’s ministries everywhere?

Judah: First of all, if you can speak to kids, you can speak to anyone. The world’s greatest communicators and best-kept secrets in the church and the world are children’s ministers. We’ve seen an awesome thing with our teachers and leaders sharing Jesus’ message—his forgiveness, his grace, his love. They do full-on preaching and teaching the Bible. It’s the Gospel and kids are really falling in love with the person of Jesus and what he’s done for them. That’s exciting to me. The kids resonate with it. They’re not getting a watered-down, half-hearted production; it’s the Gospel and they’re just as much a part of the church as anybody else.

Chelsea: Judah’s dad, who was the founder of our church, said over and over that children don’t have a small version of the Holy Spirit; they have the same Spirit of Jesus, the same spirit inside of them that grownups have. That was his great way of changing the culture of our community to accept that kids’ church is real church for children; it’s not a small version of big church.

Win a copy!

We’ll be giving away three copies of the I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook!
Simply answer the following question in the comments section, and we’ll select three winners on March 1!

If you could tell parents one thing about leading their children spiritually, what would it be?

[end of article preview]

Thanks for checking out this special sneak peek of a featured article in the Mar/Apr 2016 issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine.

Subscribe today and get more great articles like this one—delivered to your mailbox and tablet—all year long!


8 thoughts on “Judah & Chelsea Smith: I Will Follow Jesus

  1. That they are watching you. Not only your actions and what you do….reading your bible, praying, evangelizing…but how you love others, how you respond in a bad situation, are you loving well?? If so you are showing them Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace lived out.

  2. As parents we need to be present and available. Our goal should be to be an authentic Christian at home and at church. Being active in the church family and letting them see you reading your bible, having study time and praying at all times. Taking time when those teachable moments occur and certainly when our kids have questions be ready to answer or to search for an answer.

  3. I would tell parents that instilling God’s Word in the lives of their children is THEIR responsibility. As much as the church would love to pour into their kids each day, that isn’t reality. Reality is that the church has them a few hours a week. Kids need their parents to be Jesus to them – to model Christ-centered relationships, attitudes, priorities and discipline. I LOVE teaching their children about Jesus – I need them to LOVE it, too!! 🙂

  4. Pamela Ferrell

    To show them Christ by our actions. Talking with our kids and having devotions together.

  5. I would tell them…Be Authentic, be real! Kids can spot a lie or a phony a mile away. Talk to them about what you went through and how you came to follow Jesus. Of course, if you came about it a “rough” way, tailor it to be age-appropriate. The more open you are the more open your kids will be.

  6. Tell the whole truth. Don’t water it down just because they are children. They can understand it and get it.

  7. Be intentional – look for teachable moments to bring your faith into the little everyday moments that life brings.

  8. As parents, we need to remember that our children may or may not hear what we say. BUT they will always see what we do. My mother used to say “more is caught than taught.”

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