3 Simple Ways You Can Start Discipling Your Kids

What are your dreams for your kids? We all have them. And we all plan to help make these dreams come true. We plan for their education and save for college. We try to expose them to the best sports opportunities or the best music lessons, or dance lessons, or…I could go on and on. The bottom line is that parents really do know that they have a responsibility to help their children develop physically, mentally, socially, and even spiritually. Because we want our kids to have the best, we often outsource much of their development to “experts.” We find the best coach, or piano teacher, or dance instructor. Parents follow this logic all the way to church.

Image: EA / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There is a problem with this approach when it comes to discipleship. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that the church is best suited to disciple our kids. Because they know that spiritual matters are so critical, most parents are afraid that they will somehow mess it up. So, they turn over the spiritual development role to the “experts” in church. This isn’t new. In the 1849 introduction to a reprint of a Baptist Catechism from the 1700s, Virginia pastor J. L. Reynolds wrote, “With the development of the scheme of Sabbath [Sunday] Schools, the parent, in many instances, transferred his responsibility to the weekly teacher” (27). But Deuteronomy 6:1-9 clearly gives the responsibility of teaching children to love the LORD and obey His commands to parents. The church can and should be a great partner for parents and I am deeply committed to help churches and families connect in a more intentional and strategic ways (more on the church & family connect podcast); however, the church cannot replace parents in the spiritual development of children.

That responsibility can be overwhelming! And although instilling faith in our kids is challenging, it may not be as difficult as we think. When I first thought about family worship, for instance, I pictured having to dress like a preacher and deliver a 3-point sermon to my family. I think that’s why most parents, especially dads, don’t do anything for family discipleship. They don’t do anything because they are afraid they won’t do it well. In my experience, most men will not do some things if they think they are going to fail. They’d rather not do something at all than to try and do it wrong.

It doesn’t have to be that hard, though! There are lots of approaches you can take, but here are 3 simple ways to get started in making disciples at home:

  1. Read the Bible together. At least once a week sit down as a family and read Scripture together. It can be one verse or a couple of chapters. A good rule of thumb is to keep the time in minutes about the same as your youngest child’s age (3 years old = 3 minutes). You can go longer with the older kids or experiment and see what works! Don’t worry about preparing a lesson. Just read the Bible. If questions come up, and they will, be honest even if you don’t know the answer and then commit to finding the answer. Better yet, search for the answer with your kids! You could just jump into a book of the Bible and start reading. The Gospel of Mark is a good start with the life of Jesus because of its short length. It may be better to use some kind of guide. For young children, you can do no better than The Jesus Storybook Bible. A great Bible reading guide for individuals or families that can help you really grasp the story of the Bible is the Read the Bible for Life plan. However you start, just start!
  2. Pray together. After you’ve read the Bible together, pray together. Keep a journal and ask your kids for their prayer requests. Don’t dismiss any as silly or small, but model for them how to pray for the things that will glorify God. You can even use a prayer calendar like the one from Operation World and pray for a different country in the world every day. Revisit the journal from time to time and ask the kids to share how they’ve seen God answer prayers. Don’t worry, He will!
  3. Serve together. This is where your local church can help. Ask what local ministries that serve the community are places kids can plug in. Our family has helped clean and stock the local food pantry. Identify a senior adult or under-served family in your neighborhood and find out how you could help them (this will probably get messy, but it will be worth it)! Families can go together on mission trips and serve side-by-side.

So, how can you use these 3 ways this week to start making disciples at home? What are you already doing? Leave your ideas in the comments section to help out other parents.

 

 

  • This is a great post. Churches must begin to think more about how to equip parents for the task of discipleship in the home. Most churches I have seen have embraced the role as the primary spiritual influence for children.
    Brian, I also appreciate the fact that you are focusing on the discipleship and less on the “decision.” While I believe there is a decision that every child must make about Christ (in due time by the leading of the Holy Spirit), the focus of the parents (and the church) must be on the foundational truths of the Bible and modeling a growing walk with Christ before our kids.
    Thanks for providing 3 great, simple, practical points for our families.

  • Brian,
    Strong work, my friend! I look forward to sharing this post with my FB friends and Twitter followers!
    I am thankful to the Lord for you and your ministry.
    Randy

  • Pingback: Our One Objective is to Glorify God By Making Disciples | Randy Mann()

  • Pingback: The One Thing Your Kids Need to Know About You()