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Discipleship at Home: Structured & Planned

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Discipleship at Home: Structured & Planned

If our goal as Christian parents is to raise life-long disciples of Jesus Christ, so that our children will glorify God and enjoy Him forever, then we must pay careful attention to how and what we teach our children. The question is not “are we are discipling our children?”, but rather “to what are we discipling our children?”. Whether we realize it or not, we are purposefully or inadvertently teaching our children to follow someone. There is no gray area; our teaching is black and white. One day, they will worship and give glory to the Lord God Almighty, or they won’t. It almost goes without saying, though I’ll go ahead and lob it out there, that to teach our children to walk in the ways of the Lord, we as parents must also be teachable disciples of Jesus Christ as well. We must be intentional and strive to be ourselves what we want our children to become. Luke 6:40 should humble us in both directions.

We find that our discipleship works its way out three distinct ways in our family:

  1. Structured and planned
  2. Spontaneous and responsive
  3. Repetitive and maintaining

I’ll visit each of these ways in a triplicate of posts. But let me be transparent from the outset; I don’t know that there has ever existed a day in which we’ve managed to hit a home run. And still, we are not rendered defeated because the glory of Christ and His power is shown perfectly in our weakness. His grace and mercy give us power, and we are no longer slaves to sin, but still, with Paul, I can say, “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out…” (Romans 7:18-25). But we must press on, despite ourselves.

That being said, and the caveat of too many regular failings, it also does not mean that we give up striving for ideals in how we disciple our children. Ideals can be beautiful things, and being idealistic as Christians does not mean we are unrealistic. Being idealistic is also not the same thing as being perfectionistic. It can be, for the world. But for those of us who are not of this world, we have the completely realistic hope of perfection in Christ Jesus when He appears, and therefore, aiming for His perfection through faith is what gives our idealism feet and not falter. We can persevere in doing all things for the glory of the Lord, knowing that He is working in us. This includes first and foremost the sharing of the gospel with our children and making disciples of them. It also means though we are knocked down seven times, we get back up again and continue to fight the good fight of faith, which includes sharing it with our children.

So enough of the long intro, and now for the shortest of the three topics, simply because much can be said and understood without too much explanation. The first way in which we disciple our children, and in many ways, it’s the thing on which the other ones hang, is the structured and planned way. The structured and planned things are those things on which we purposefully build our family culture, and therefore plan how we will carry them out. These are things that generally make up the Christian disciplines, so as disciples making disciples, we discipline ourselves in certain ways in order to teach our children how to be disciples themselves.

Structured and Planned

What does/can this look like? The method will, of course, differ from family to family, but the key ingredients are simple: God’s Word in our words and actions. In our home, it shows itself in the regular habits and things we do day by day, a kind of family liturgy that we strive to keep in place in our regular, daily lives. This is done primarily through talking: teaching our children the Word of God and showing them how to seek the Lord in His Word and in prayer. It’s praying together and teaching them how to pray. It’s memorizing Scripture together, it’s learning and singing hymns together, and it’s the regular reading of God’s Word together. It’s building in service at home into our regular days as a discipline to build on when service opportunities present themselves outside the home. It’s regularly reading good, soul-feeding poems, books, and stories together.

However, I must reiterate that while it is good to look creatively for ways to build our family lives around God’s Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not dependent on new scripture memory systems, how many of the old hymns our children can sing, or whether we pray before every meal. We don’t need new and innovative methods to keep things interesting. The gospel simply needs to be taught for faith to be able to grow (Romans 10:17). Reading God’s Word aloud together, teaching what needs explanation, and responding to Him in prayer and song…and guess what? No Pinterest needed.

The regular, planned things like this are vital, but not complete in and of themselves. We all know that until our children DO the thing that they say they KNOW, they haven’t truly learned, which leads us to the second point. We also strive to be spontaneous and responsive as we disciple our children…more on that next time.