Educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God's changing world.

Creating a Scaffold for Lifelong Discipleship

Anne H.K. Apple (CTS MDiv’01), associate pastor for pastoral care and evangelism at Idlewild Presbyterian in Memphis, TN, and Kathy Dawson (CTS MDiv’94), associate professor for Christian Education at the seminary, will co-lead “Baptism and Beyond:  Scaffolding a Life of Discipleship” April 23-25.  The pair first worked together at Springhill Presbyterian in Mobile, AL, where Kathy served as associate pastor and Anne as a volunteer youth leader. They share a passion for helping the church find creative, engaging ways to “go forth and make disciples.” Asked to write an article to illustrate some of what participants will explore during the class, Apple responded with a story, and more.

Carter, an earnest five year old, stood at the back of the sanctuary.  His task in worship that particular morning was to bear the Christ Candle down the aisle, drawing Christ’s light into the house of the Lord. 

On those Sundays when the font’s waters are stirred by a pastor’s hand and the Spirit’s presence during a baptism of one of God’s beloved children, Carter leaps to his feet to answer the questions asked by one of his peers. 

“Will you be a friend to Kate?”

“Yes!” 

“If Kate falls down, will you help pick her up?”

“Yes!” 

“Will you teach sweet little Kate the stories of Jesus?”

“Yes!”    

Before we went down the aisle this particular Sunday, I knelt down and asked, “You ready Carter?”  He gave me an affirmative nod.  I asked, “Any questions?”

He looked straight at me and mused, “Why is this light so small?”

The practical answer was so that he might manage the worship leadership task at hand in an age appropriate manner.  When I asked Carter, “What do you think?”  He responded, “So we share Christ’s light and make it grow big.” 

Foundations in faith formed by the font, nurtured in worship and education that lead to a life of faith and service with Christ in the world – that’s what we hope to do as we pass on the stories and practices of faith.  It’s what you might call “Scaffolding a Life of Discipleship.” 

Maybe when Carter grows to be ten he’ll come in the summer and participate in Idlewild’s MAD – Making A Difference - Camp.  There he’ll learn about scripture and how it is alive and at work in the world.  He’ll practice what it means to ‘do it to the least of these’ as he packs packages of food into backpacks for children who have no food on the weekends.  He’ll use his pre-adolescent hands and feet to work living the gospel, making a difference – in Christ’s name.

Maybe when Carter grows to be sixteen, he’ll come into the church where he learned the stories of Jesus and sit down at More Than a Meal (a mid-week fellowship) with a man whose life has been torn apart, made poor by circumstance of addiction and poverty’s grasp.  Maybe at table together, Carter and his guest will witness how God works to repair tears in the fabric of life through the knitting together of relationships nurtured through the ministry in a particular place. 

How do you and your congregation work to scaffold and support children as they begin to live out their faith?  Come – join us in April as we share stories and developmental pedagogies for nurturing a life of faith together. 

For details and to register, click here. Early bird registration discount available through January 3.