Home Discipleship

As a young parent, I was eager to serve God. In my mind, serving God meant church attendance and involvement. At one point, I was teaching Sunday school, leading a men’s group every week, and doing community service projects. The one thing I wasn’t doing was discipling my children.

What do I mean by discipling? It means more than praying at night with your child or attending church together. Although these activities are valuable, discipleship encompasses much more. Discipleship is training your child to think from a Biblical worldview and to act in accordance with that worldview. It is a practice that is Spirit led, intentional, and ongoing.

To begin with discipling children is Spirit led. It is not a human endeavor. One temptation is to think that we can follow a program or pattern and manufacture a devout Christian child. As Christian parents, we must keep a loose grip on our children, trusting that it is God and God alone that can bring them into a right relationship with Himself. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” The buffer against the temptation to manufacture a Christian child is faith in God. We must come to God daily entrusting the work of spiritual transformation to God. Only then are we fit to disciple with the right motives. Our children will not feel like our project, but the divine workmanship of God. When we walk in faith our children will sense that God is much bigger than our own efforts. Trusting doesn’t mean we are useless. It is God’s will to use imperfect people, like you and I, to convey His love; to do less is falling short of God’s intention for parenting. It is a sobering thought to think that the institution of parenting is where children get their most prominent impression of who God is.

Another quality of home discipleship is that it is intentional. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision the people perish..” Home discipleship requires a lot of time. It is not merely being in the presence of our children, but talking to them everyday. It involves getting to know their wants, fears, hopes, and dreams. It involves knowing where they are going and who they are going with. Getting to know our children well only will happen if we have intentionality. It means making sure we are home for dinner. It means planning regular one-on-one time with our children free of distraction. In addition, we must be proactive in training them to think about sensitive issues, like sex and money, long before the temptations to compromise present themselves. The heart and soul of home discipleship is not helping our children be good citizens, but to help them to know and fall in love with God. There is no better way of getting to know God than to plan ample time to be in His Word. This is why I included some resources families can use to be in the Word more. I recommend that fathers take the lead in initiating family Bible time. Young men need to understand that an essential part of fatherhood is leading the family in God’s Word.

A third characteristic of family discipleship is that it is ongoing. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 instructs, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” Where is the best place to talk to our children about God’s Word? The answer is everywhere. Talk about it when you are at home at the dinner table, but also talk about it when you are shopping, playing, cooking, cleaning, driving, walking, swimming and whatever –ing you are involved in. God’s Word is relevant to all of life. If you are driving and the moon is out, remind your children of Elohim, the Strong Creator. If you are cooking, remind them of Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord that Provides. If your child is bullied remind them of Jehovah-Maginnenu, The Lord Our Defense. One of the great errors many parents make is that they stop training their child during the teen years, giving in to the modern lie that teens need parents to stay out of their way. I see so many parents take the “cross your fingers” approach to parenting teens, which means they kind of hope that every night their teen will return in one piece with their faith somewhat intact. Don’t believe this lie. My oldest is almost seventeen. He still needs our protection and wisdom as parents. There are some boundaries that he fought us tooth and nail; it was only later that he thanked us for it. Your teen needs you! Continue discipling him or her.

If you are like I was at one time- busy with church life, but neglecting your family responsibilities- take an inventory of your life and do whatever is necessary to put your family ministry at the top of the list. Do not bite off more than you can chew. Start small. Plan a time of family discipleship once a week or plan to meet with your son or daughter for one-on-one time once a month. Small investments in your family ministry will have eternal dividends. Then the words of John will resonate in your soul- I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (1 John 3-4).

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