Family Discipleship: What · Why · How?

Family Discipleship is the big picture of our call as parents—to help children grow in a foundation of solid biblical truth, to see the gospel modeled in their family, and provide an environment that opens the door to their own personal experience of His love. Our calling is clear in Scripture:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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 shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4–9

Note the emphasis on diligence, all areas of daily life, remembering and passing on the experience of God’s faithfulness and His desire for our good.

Likewise, in Psalm 78:2-7 the psalmist conveys the need to pass on the testimonies of God’s greatness that were passed on to their generation, to tell the coming generation. Emphasis on knowing and experiencing God, “so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God but keep His commandments….” 

Ephesians 6:4 urges, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is all-of-life instruction.

WOW! The list could certainly go on! You see God’s Word is not silent on our need to disciple our kids. We can’t settle for behavior modification, though it’s so tempting! It’s easier and more measurable on the outside and may provide temporary relief. But then we model a salvation-by-works surface-level façade, not a living relationship with our awesome God.

How might that look in our lives?

Modeling: We all know our kids won’t buy into the joy of walking with Jesus if we don’t model it…or worse yet, if we make it seem like a dreaded or tolerated chore. Stop and think through what your kids SEE of your faith journey (things like time in the Word and prayer, priorities, responses to others) and prayerfully ask God’s guidance in seeing blind spots that you need to address or changes that need to be made. Commit it to prayer and share the journey. Notice God’s fingerprints on everyday things and share them OUT LOUD.

• Share your own faith story (Deut. 6:20-25).

• Is discipline and instruction gospel-infused or behavior modification centered?

Environment: Is your home peaceful?

What about a focused family devotional time?

Family Worship: Read, Pray, Sing

Read Scripture: read through books of the Bible together—age appropriate and in short chunks. Younger kids will do better with narrative passages. Read it with emotion!!!! 

Pray: I like the suggestion in Family Worship to at least pray about one thing you just read in the Scripture (however the Word prompts you in thanksgiving, praise, repentance, intercession, even asking the Spirit for clarification). Beyond that, themes may be helpful: praise only night; missionary night; classmates or teammates; the ministry you serve in at church; unsaved family members…the list goes on. Keep it short. 

Sing: Tools like songbooks or printed lyrics are helpful. Find artists that focus on putting Scripture to music so that you can memorize verses while you sing together. Perhaps your jam will be just to listen to a hymn or sing along with a beautiful worship song or dance to a praise tune as you close your family devo time. Be creative!

Overall, keep it simple: how many of you feel overwhelmed? Don’t let the enemy convince you that you can’t do this! What God calls us to do, He equips us for. Be brief. Be consistent, not legalistic. Expect failure—it won’t always be easy or welcomed, but it will be worth it!

DON’T FORGET TO MARK MILESTONES, finding ways to memorialize life-changing events.

For example, look at what Exodus 12:14; 24-27; 13:8-10 includes in the instructions regarding Passover and Unleavened Bread:

  • A tangible memorial (symbolic meal; blood on the doorposts; dressed for travel; eat in a hurry)
  • Personal testimony
  • Instruction (what God directed and what He revealed about Himself)
  • Consistently remembered and celebrated.

What a memorable, all-senses-included way to distinguish such significant events in a way that can be passed on for generations!

Donna Leupp—Minister to Children and Families