“Healthy families are the conducive environment for our children’s spiritual growth. May the 10 perspectives shared over these 2 weeks, be a ready resource for all of us.” Ps Daniel Tan
10 things you should know about family discipleship
by Adam Griffin
(Continued from last week.)
- Family discipleship should be a team effort that includes both family and church.
While parents have the potential to be the most influential people in a child’s life and the home is intended to be the primary instrument and environment for discipleship, parents are not expected to carry this burden alone. The church cannot be where we “outsource” the discipleship of our children, but neither should it be ignored as a significant component of Christian ministry to and with the family. The best version of family discipleship involves an entire community of believers working in concert with the parents in spiritually raising children.
- Family discipleship is unapologetic indoctrination.
Teaching your children all that Christ commanded is not a way of giving them the “Christian religion” as an option for what truth they may end up selecting or following. Family discipleship is training your family in what is true, without regard to the condescending opinions of those in other camps. You are equipping your kids with a lens by which to see the world as it truly is, broken and in desperate need of a Saviour. I believe that Jesus Christ meant it when he said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). So what good do we do our kids to tell them to “choose what is true for themselves” if we know there is, in fact, only one fountain of life in the desert of this world?
- Family discipleship will affect behaviour, but it is not a means to manipulate your household.
It can be so easy, and therefore so tempting, to misuse the word of God in order to serve our own needs. Family discipleship should never be twisted into a means of getting your family to do what you want by intimidating or threatening them with the word of God. Manipulating the behaviour of your children by portraying God as angry at them when they do wrong and happy when they do what you want robs them of the beauty of true grace that always loves us better than we deserve and calls us to obey out of joy and love, not out of coercion or scare tactics. It is easy to raise a Pharisaical child who pays lip service to God but whose heart is far from him. Family discipleship pleads with the Lord for heart transformation, and that will lead, consequentially, to a heart that delights in obedience to the Lord.
- Family discipleship is not the path of least resistance.
As important and significant as family discipleship is, no one is promising that it is going to be easy. Kids of all ages can resist accepting what their parents have to tell them, or rebel against the instructions from their mum or dad. It requires a righteously stubborn persistence and gentle gracious patience to properly spiritually lead a family. We all make mistakes as parents, but may it never be that the biggest mistake we make is giving up on the call of God in our life to lead our family simply because it is not easier.
- Family discipleship can be incredibly rewarding and often leads to the incredible work of the Lord in the life of the family and child.
If you are discipling your family, then I assume you follow the God of the universe. If he is for you, tell me, who can possibly be against you? No one wins against your God. This child he has entrusted to you is his, and it is no accident that he has put him or her in your care. Yes, we work out our salvation with great sobriety and caution, but with no lack of confidence and courage that the Lord who began faith in our heart can do the same in the lives of our dearest little ones. What a blessing to be invited into how the Lord shapes and saves a human soul! With Christ as your King and God as your Father, you can absolutely do this! Of course, your family may not change overnight; and yes, you will make mistakes. Even with all the resistance, flaws, and failures along the way, there is no lack of hope for what the God who made the universe can do in the hearts of those he chooses according to his purposes.
Adam Griffin is co-author with Matt Chandler of Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home through Time, Moments, and Milestones.