As parents, we deeply desire for our children to develop a growing, personal relationship with Jesus. We want them to learn to love the Word, to read it, to believe it, and even to share it. We plead for God to use them in his kingdom (except overseas in a hostile context. Let God call someone else’s child for that!). We long for those moments when they discuss at length matters of the Word and what God is doing in their lives.
However, making that happen is not a quick or easy process. Where do we squeeze in family discipleship? Our calendars are full. The family schedule consists of school, work, ballet, soccer, homework, vacations, preparing meals, feeding the baby, and frantically cleaning the house before company arrives, not to mention trying to keep up with numerous church activities! A five-minute discipleship time before bed carries added frustrations as kids fight over seats, who is reading the Bible verse, and who gets to pray that night. Once the screaming is under control, you pray, with sincerity, for your kids. You kiss them goodnight and walk out discouraged, thinking you will try to get things right tomorrow.
Take a deep breath and understand that family discipleship is a process. In this series we will discuss some principles and practical ways for us, as parents, to develop and prioritize discipleship plans for the benefit of our children.
Understanding Our Responsibility
We need to have a proper understanding of Scripture’s command to disciple our family and children. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 lays the foundation:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Here are some insights from this passage:
- Make your own relationship and discipleship process a priority (vv. 5-6). You love the Lord with all your being. Your family will only go as far as you have been. Be in the Word and let the Word be in your heart!
- Be diligent to teach the Word to your family as you go through life (v. 7). We are ultimately responsible for our own family, not someone else, or even our respective church. It starts at home! Take time to speak with your kids about the Lord and His Word in your house, as you drive to soccer, as you are on vacation, as you eat with them, as you tuck them in. Use the events of each day to constantly speak about the grace of God.
- Make teaching the Word your #1 priority (vv. 8-9). Keep the Word constantly before your family. But don’t just tell them about the Word, engage them in the process of learning. Make sure they know the Word and that growing in the Lord is always to take center-stage. Both your family members and outsiders should be able to witness that your family is built on the Word of God!
Next time we will move into some practical, fun, and engaging ideas for these discipleship moments. Further, we will discuss the creation of a family worship time.
Mark Gouge is the Children’s Pastor at Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tn. As a disciple-maker himself, he knows the importance of helping parents disciple their children. Follow Mark on twitter: @markgouge