Four Ways Churches Can Help Parents

It is clear in Scripture that parents have the primary role in the spiritual formation of children. We have affirmed this and noted that parents ought not outsource this responsibility to the church. But what is the place of the church in partnering with parents?

 It is true that Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78 and other biblical texts place the onus on parents for discipleship, but in those same passages we should note that these parents aren’t discipling kids in a vacuum. In fact, this command to parent discipleship is given within the context of a broader faith community. In the Old Testament, this faith community is the nation of Israel. The passage known as the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 begins, “Hear, O Israel.” The command was given to the whole nation, not just the family. Implicit in this is the idea that families need support from the broader faith community. Today that faith community is not a nation, it is the church.

The church should not replace the parents, but parents should not undervalue the church’s role in discipleship. A few years ago the motto for The Home Depot was “you can do it, we can help.” As I have studied the role that churches should play in discipleship for the family, I think that is an excellent motto that could be applied. Churches should affirm that parents are the primary discipling agent, but that the church can encourage, equip, and resource them.

Are you creating little legalists?

In the last post we discussed the difference between a be good/feel good theology of parenting and a Gospel-centered theology of parenting. Moving beyond a be good/feel good theology for family discipleship doesn’t mean that behavior is not important. In Romans 6:1-4, the Apostle Paul calls out the absurdity of using grace as a license for sin. In Titus 3:8, we are reminded that those who have believed in God should “be careful to devote themselves to good works” (ESV). So we should teach children to behave, but we must teach them why they should behave. And we have to be careful not to tie God’s approval of them to their behavior. If we aren’t careful, the danger is that we can create little legalists.

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It has been said that children can get their concept of who God is from their parents, especially fathers. [Read more…]

Why “Be Good/Feel Good” is No Good

We have said that the chief goal of parenting should be to make disciples of children. Unfortunately, most churches and parents have set a low bar (the wrong bar) for what it means to be a disciple. In more cases than we realize, discipleship has been reduced to adherence to a moral code. Well-intentioned people come away from church with a sense that maturity as a Christian is about keeping the rules and that the goal of the Christian life is merely to be happy.

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A major study was conducted of youth a few years ago called the National Study of Youth and Religion.  [Read more…]

The One Thing Your Kids Need to Know About You

We have already discussed some practical ways to jump-start discipleship at home, but if you really want them to understand the greatness of God, there’s one thing that your kids need to know about you. They need to know what God has done for you. The command in Deuteronomy 6 (our foundational passage) was first for the people of Israel to confess that there is only one God and to love Him with everything they were. Only after they were first commanded to love and obey the LORD were they then commanded to teach their children to love the LORD. Consequently, the blueprint for faith formation was to orient children toward a God whom the Israelites had experienced personally.

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Generational discipleship is the pattern of Scripture. The Israelites were not instructed to pass along mere facts about God and moral behavior. They
were to pass along a living faith in a living God who had been faithful to His covenant. They were to pass along their experience. The rituals, memorials, and festivals that God instituted were for the very purpose of teaching children about the glory of God. Consider these examples: [Read more…]

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.

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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. [Read more…]