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Inside: Wondering how to do effective family discipleship? Look no further! Here you will find ways to teach your kids how to love God and learn to grow their faith. Click to find ways to teach your kids the Bible and raise godly children.
Seven Keys to Effective Family Discipleship
On a recent trip home from a vacation, our three-year-old and six-year-old sat happily chatting in the van behind me. I wasn’t paying too much attention since I was busy entertaining the baby.
And suddenly, something caught my ear.
“Nadia,” said our three-year-old, Nick. “I’m going to say the verse and then you say it after me.”
“Okay,” she said.
He then proceeded to tell her his version of a verse that we had taught him and she repeated it back.
After teaching her the verse, he said, “Now close your eyes and I am going to pray.”
Following a brief time of the cutest prayer I’ve ever heard, they both began to sing worship songs.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I realized that something we were doing was rubbing off.
He was teaching her the Scripture that we had taught him.
You are Your Child’s Greatest Teacher
If you really think about it, you’ve been teaching your child since he was born. From the minute he was first placed in your arms he didn’t know how to do anything.
You’ve had to teach him everything from eating, to walking and talking and everything in between. It would be ridiculous to think that you could just sit him down and never teach him to do anything.
He needs you and he needs your instruction.
So when I say to disciple your child, I mean to teach his heart to obey God. And more specifically to use Scripture to do it.
What Exactly Is Discipleship, Anyway?
Maybe you’re scratching your head wondering, what exactly does it mean to disciple my children?
That’s a completely fair question!
In a nutshell, God has given us children and He has given us pretty specific instructions to train our children in the way that they should go. (Proverbs 22:6)
So what exactly does that mean?
Simply put, discipleship means to intentionally pour the Word of God into your children and to teach them to obey it. (Become a follower of Christ)
It’s more than just taking your kids to church on Sunday.
It means you’re making the Bible an integral part of their daily lives. And you’re always talking about God.
That’s real life discipleship training!
What Does God’s Word Say About Effective Family Discipleship?
Deuteronomy 6:6-8 gives us a pretty good framework of what discipleship actually is.
‘And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they should be as frontlets between your eyes. Deuteronomy 6:6-8 (ESV)
You might be wondering what exactly a frontlet is.
That’s a very good question!
The Israelites were commanded by God to keep the verses that He told them were important before them at all times. In other words, to always have them on their minds.
They took God literally and actually wrote the verses on scrolls and then carried them around attached to their heads.
Kind of funny!
Effective Family Discipleship Can be a Natural Part of Life
Thankfully, God is not asking us to tattoo these words across our forehead or carry them around on some kind of a headband.
But what He is asking us to do is to constantly have His Word before us every day and in turn, to teach it to our kids.
Basically He just wants us to always think about Scripture first, and apply it anywhere we can in our life and in the lives of our kids.
As you go about your daily business, you can constantly teach your kids Scripture.
Discipleship is one of the ways you can be sure you are passing on Godly values to your kids in an intentional way.
Why Should you Disciple Your Kids?
God is pretty clear when He tells us that it’s our responsibility as parents to teach our kids His ways.
Let’s take a look at Ephesians 6:4
‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)
Parents are the ones who are primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children. Church is a wonderful supplement to what we as parents can do in the home, but it should never be relied on as the sole source of discipleship.
As a parent, you need to take an active role in bringing up your child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
It’s also a good way to keep your child in the Word as an adult (of course, there is never a guarantee).
By teaching your kids to make God a part of everyday at a young age, you are setting them up to stay on track when they leave your home.
If You Don’t Teach Your Kids, The World Will
Or worse yet, if we don’t teach our children to follow Christ, the world will teach them not to.
Be an active participant in your kids’ lives and don’t just sit back and let them learn from the culture around them.
Kids are sponges.
And good or bad, they learn whatever is put before them. Now, more than ever, your kids are faced with choices that you and I never had to think about as children.
You need to make sure your kids are prepared and ready to handle some of the decisions they will need to make.
Discipleship is one of the ways that you can be sure that you are passing on Godly values to your kids in an intentional way.
Don’t let the world be your kids’ teacher.
Furthermore, it is so important that your kids know what Scripture says. And discipleship is simply an intentional way to teach them.
(Let me add a side note to encourage you: You may feel inadequate or feel like you don’t know it all. Let me reassure you that nobody does. We are all learning. It’s completely OK to learn right alongside your kids and even let them know that you don’t know. It really is OK. I promise! 🙂 )
You Will Produce a Generational Faith and a Legacy That Lasts
Did you know that the only thing you can take with you to Heaven is other people?
Think with me for a moment about the descendants that you will have 200 years from now.
Yes, someday you will probably be a grandma!
One of the greatest ways that you will have an influence over your future grandkids will be through your children.
It’s a crazy thing to think that I might be able to influence my great-great-great grandchildren by doing a good job of discipling my own children right now.
Ultimately, the goal of a Christian mom is to pass her faith on from one generation to the next. And that starts with intentional discipleship.
Be Careful Not to Let Busyness or Perfection Get in the Way
I understand that life gets busy and adding in one more thing can seem overwhelming, but let me encourage you that discipling your children is something that will have lasting and valuable, not to mention, eternal results.
Please don’t let busyness get in the way.
Do your best to make it a priority to intentionally disciple your kids on a regular basis.
On the same token, don’t feel like you can’t disciple your kids until you have the perfect setup, perfect materials, or the perfect time.
Find out how seeking perfection can be a hindrance to your own Quiet Time.
When Should You Disciple Your Kids?
There are really two ways to look at this.
As I said earlier, discipleship is something that takes place everyday throughout the day, but it’s also appropriate to find a more formal time to teach your kids as well.
What is the Informal Approach?
We need to diligently teach our children about God and His Word all day, everyday.
That means you’re constantly going to look for opportunities to teach your child. Casual conversation is one of the best ways to continually have God before you.
For example, a simple lesson could go something like this:
As you look out your front window with your child, you might see a bird in the tree. Watch the bird for a while and explain to your child that there is actually a verse in the Bible about birds. Matthew says,
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26 (ESV)
Then explain to him that you don’t have to worry about anything because God said He provides for all of our needs, just like He provides for the birds. You can tell him that whenever he sees a bird he can be reminded that God takes care of all of his needs and he doesn’t have to worry.
As you can see, discipleship may or may not be formal. There are many ways to do it.
What is the Formal Approach?
Formal discipleship training is much more structured. It involved picking a time and a curriculum, if you will.
What works best with your family?
Ideally it should be at least once a week, but if you choose a more relaxed informal format, it may not be at the same time every week.
Of course you should be doing something to disciple your kids on a daily basis like I mentioned above.
You decide what works best for you. It could be added as a part of your homeschool routine or maybe you would like to take time apart from school to do it.
When you do it isn’t as important as the fact that you actually do it.
For our family, one-on-one discipleship takes place at a regular time each week. On Sunday afternoons, my 14-year-old daughter and I meet to go over our discipleship material for the week, and then we spend time Bible journaling together. We have fun discussing the lesson and chatting about matters of the heart.
We love this Bible for Bible journaling. And we use these pens, which are awesome! And these colored pencils. These pens are nice to put the finishing touches on everything.
My husband meets in the morning with our boys on a certain day of the week. Currently, they are studying Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald Whitney and also Thoughts for Young Men, by JC Ryle
These are just the examples that work for us, but hopefully they will inspire you to do something similar with your kids.
What Should You Do for Effective Family Discipleship?
This answer to that is as multifaceted as the question is.
You can study a book of the Bible together with your child. Don’t worry if you have deficiencies. You can learn together.
Just go through the Scripture and talk about it. See if there are any words or phrases your child doesn’t understand. Research them together. And then, teach him how he can apply it to his life.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
- Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional Guide – Clay Clarkson and Marvin Jarboe
- Gospel Family: Cultivating Family Discipleship, Family Worship, & Family Missions – Jonathan Williams
- Teaching Kids Authentic Worship – How to Keep Them Close to God for Life – Kathleen Chapman
- Kids Experiencing God At Home – Kim Blackaby
- Halley’s Bible Handbook, Classic Edition: Completely Revised and Expanded Edition – Henry Halley
Instead, if you’d rather not go through a book, you could easily take one verse each time you meet and talk about it together.
And please be sure to pray with your kids. It’s so important to teach them to go to God with everything!
Make prayer the center of your discipleship.
Choose What Works Best for You and Your Family
Ultimately, whatever method you choose, I pray you will be blessed as you lead your kids in following Christ.
Don’t get hung up on the method or the materials. Choose something that will work for you and your family and then watch as God does a work in each of your hearts!
What do you do for effective family discipleship? How are you teaching your kids to follow Christ? Do you struggle to find a way or the time to disciple your kids? Comment below and share your thoughts!
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