Family Discipleship: Every Parent’s Joy and Challenge

Amber and Nate did not grow up in the church. As new followers of Christ, the church was a haven to them, giving new hope to their lives. They relied on the church to teach their children about God and His Word. Enter—pandemic! Everything changed. And keeps changing. Along with many parents, Amber and Nate wonder, “What will happen to our kids?” They miss the church's support in discipling their children. They see the problem: the world seems more effective than ever in shaping kids into its mold. 

Amber and Nate represent most parents in the church today. They fight a spiritual enemy who tempts them to think they are not equipped to disciple their kids. The qualified church staff have always assumed this important role. What will this time away from our regular church programming mean in terms of our kid’s lives? How will parents and grandparents respond to this urgent need? 

What biblical principles guide parents (or grandparents) in the discipleship of their child? 

1. God graciously gives parents the primary influence in a child’s life.

Which he commanded our fathers
   to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
   the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
   so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
   but keep his commandments. (Psalm 78:5–7) 

God appoints parents to share His Word so their kids can know and believe the glorious Truths of the gospel. The family is our greatest mission field. Is God stretching you as a parent to trust Him in new ways? Here’s good news: you can trust and depend on God for this assignment (Josh. 1:8–9). Remember this: your best preparation to lead your family starts as you cultivate your own relationship with God. Your growth in God will produce sweet fruit for your children to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8)! 

2. God makes a child’s mind and heart pliable.

With their smartphones, our kids have full access to everything you have on your computer. Kids are impressionable—easily influenced and susceptible to whatever content they are accessing. They may know that some online images are not good for them, but what they don’t realize is that their worldview is being totally reprogrammed by what they read, hear, and watch. 

God made a child’s mind and heart pliable for a reason. Childhood is when they are most likely to listen and believe what their parents tell them. Children are not skeptics; they are not judgmental or cynical. Parents can learn how to talk about God with their kids. Families can learn to talk about God as they would school activities, sports, or anything else! Here’s a simple tip as you start reading the Bible together: make God the focus. After reading the Scripture, ask, “What is God showing us about Himself?” and “What does God want us to know about ourselves?” 

3. Childhood is the specially-designed time to discover the wonder of God.

Our children are exposed to lots of information all the time. Much is good, helpful, educational, and even spiritually beneficial. But children are easily infected by information that contradicts godly principles because they don’t yet have a solid biblical immune system. 

What spiritual “immunization plan” can parents rely on? Pastors and ministry leaders can come alongside parents with suggestions of good teaching resources. Create a list of the many good books available today, and collaborate with friends. Books with deep doctrinal truth in simple language are a teaching tool for parents and children alike. Our kids asked to read The New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes by Kenneth N. Taylor and Read-Aloud Bible Stories by Ella K. Lindvall over and over again. Both books provided God-centered material for our entire family. 

4. Children are gifts.

Children are a gift from God. (Psalm 127:3)

Children do not really belong to us—they belong to God. He “gifts” them to us for a season so we will disciple them. It is a parent’s privilege to teach his or her child what it means to know God and love Him. Many parents do not think they are able to disciple their child. Others think discipling their kids is not that important or worth the extra time. But in God’s estimation, the godly training of the next generation is the great and urgent responsibility of every parent. 

Today’s crisis is giving every family a unique opportunity to unfold and live out God’s plan. What plans will you make to build a strong generation of disciples for Christ in your family?

About the Author

Barbara Reaoch

Barbara Reaoch

Barbara Reaoch is the author of A Better Than Anything Christmas (2020) and Making Room for Her: Wisdom for a Healthier Relationship with Your Mother-in-Law or Daughter-in-Law (2022). She served as director of the Children’s Division of Bible Study Fellowship … read more …

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