Small Matters

How Churches and Parents Can Raise Up World-Changing Children

Children have always been close to the heart of God and as followers of Jesus it is our responsibility to protect, nurture, and pass our faith to children. In Small Matters: Why Children are Such a Big Deal, authors Greg Nettle and Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado offer a model of discipleship that encourages parents to raise up the next generation to be deeply committed to and in love with Jesus.

When we awaken to the fact that children between the ages of four and fourteen are the most likely to make a decision to follow Jesus, and that the discipleship that children receive forms their future, it will transform the way we view children, invest in them, reach out to them, teach them and ultimately, empower them to be disciples of Jesus.

In recent history the church has embraced a model of discipleship that encourages parents to, “Bring your children to us and we will disciple them. And, by the way, we would love it if you would help.” This model is ineffective as much as it is unbiblical. It is imperative that the church today shifts to a new model of discipleship that encourages parents to, “Disciple your children as your primary responsibility. And, we (the church) would love to help.”

Because our world is becoming more and more sensitive to the needs of children, a reflection of the heart of God, it provides those of us who follow Jesus with an unprecedented opportunity to disciple children in our homes, in our churches, in our communities and throughout the world. Now more than ever people are willing to invest in the cause of children through new church planting, equipping children’s ministries, and child sponsorship; all of which are committed to holistic child development.

Greg Nettle
As President of Stadia—a global church planting organization—Greg Nettle has a God-given passion for the Church and its responsibility to plant new churches … churches specifically designed to reach out to children at physical and spiritual risk. He is an author, speaker and consultant as an agent of change in the global Church. For 25 years, Greg served as visionary leader of the RiverTree Movement in Ohio. During that time, the church grew from 100 to more than 3,000 people and from one to four campuses; helped plant 15 churches throughout Ohio and 13 in Latin America; and sponsored more than 2,000 children with Compassion International and involved more than 200 families in adoption. Greg came to RiverTree after beginning his ministry as a church planter in Dublin, Ireland. His sense of adventure has taken him around the world as he has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Cotopaxi and Whitney among others to raise funds to bless children on the margins of society. Greg’s most important partner in life is his wife, Julie, as they lead their children, Tabitha and Elijah, to fall deeply in love with Jesus. He is the co-author of two books: One Of and Disciples Who Make Disciples, blogs regularly at and tweets @gregnettle.
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Jimmy Mellado
Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado began his service with Compassion in June of 2013 and was officially installed as President & CEO in September that same year. Jimmy is responsible for leading and managing all aspects of this global organization and over 3,000 employees worldwide.  Jimmy has a deep love and passion for the beauty and potential of local churches fulfilling their Jesus given mandate to redeem and restore this world for His name’s sake. Born in El Salvador and raised in seven different countries (including the Compassion countries of Nicaragua, Bolivia, El Salvador, Colombia and the Philippines), Jimmy has experienced firsthand the powerful impact thriving local churches can have on their communities. Compassion’s church-based approach to delivering a holistic child development program resonates deeply with Jimmy’s soul.  Prior to joining Compassion Jimmy was President of the Willow Creek Association (WCA) for approximately twenty years and became skilled in managing the complexities of running a multi-national organization. The WCA is a not-for-profit ministry completely dedicated to helping local churches thrive. During his tenure leading the WCA, worldwide membership grew from 860 churches to over 7,000 churches, and annual conference attendance from approximately 10,000 to more than 180,000.  Jimmy married his wife Leanne in 1986 and they have three children named Ester, Elisabeth and David as well as son-in-law Matt who is married to Ester.  Together they sponsor eight Compassion children living in Central America.
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