The parties in this mini-drama will remain unnamed, but I will reveal that the scenario is taken from an old journal entry (which accounts for its truncated style):
The Dad: [Reading from the Bible] “My son, hear the instruction of your father,
And do not forsake the law of your mother;
They will be a graceful ornament on your head,
And chains about your neck.
My son, if sinners entice you,
Do not consent.”
Son #1: “Sounds kind of bossy to me.”
The Dad: It’s okay for it to sound “bossy” because God is the Boss.
Is there anything better than truth?
Son #1: Candy
Son #2: A big, juicy cheeseburger
Family Discipleship May Not Look Like Much Is Being Accomplished
I wish I had recorded my husband’s attempt at salvaging this conversation. The good news is that we almost certainly got another chance at Proverbs the next morning. When our children were small, we didn’t usually go very deep, but the goal was to put something biblical in their ears every single day.
If the wheels came off on Monday, we could bolt them back in place on Tuesday. We were in the business of building habits of holiness because we knew that we needed the regular routine as much as our children did. The rhythm of family devotions is easy to lose in the noise of life.
As the boys grew up and our schedules became more frenzied, we had to work harder at gathering around Scripture. With tweens and teens, even though we met less frequently, we were able to go deeper. In those days, the challenges transitioned from silly answers to occasional eye-rolling and lack of enthusiasm, but the benefits of faithful family discipleship kept us in the game for the long haul.
Benefit #1– Family Discipleship Teaches Children How to Read the Bible Well
The Bible is a book about God. That seems obvious, but I can’t begin to tell you how often I hear about grown-up people treating the Bible as if it’s a book about them. It’s their Ouija Board, their little pick-me-up, or their “thought for the day.” If parents start every Bible time with the question, “What does this say about God?” they train their children from the beginning to expect the Bible to inform their understanding of God and his ways.
If parents start every Bible time with the question, “What does this say about God?” they train their children from the beginning to expect the Bible to inform their understanding of God and his ways.Tweet
Benefit #2–Family Discipleship Fosters a Climate of Conversation
Deuteronomy 6 assumes that parents and children will share the same space and have significant connections, facilitated by the overlap in their schedules:
These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”Deuteronomy 6:6-7
The message we wanted to communicate is this: “We are a family. We talk to one another.” This made us want to fight hard for family time, a decision that became controversial during one fraught season, but the goal was to have daily, consequential, but light-hearted conversations about faith rather than trying to communicate everything we believed in a few heavy indoctrination sessions.
Benefit #3–Family Discipleship Assures Everyone that Grace Will Be There on the Days When We Fail
There were plenty of days when my kids were small on which I failed to treat them like they were “my neighbor.” I raised my voice, I was impatient, and I had unrealistic expectations at times. To round out the family fallenness quotient, my kids were often uncooperative in school and insensitive to each other.
Our family met around the table as sinners in need of forgiveness–from God and, frequently, from each other.
But we met anyway, and grace was there.
Helpful Resources for Family Discipleship
If it’s your goal to foster a living faith in your kids, begin at home. Start small and easy, and take advantage of great resources, but don’t be afraid to pick a verse or a narrative section from the Bible and simply read it and explain it yourself. For instance, one Proverb a day will take a family through the book of Proverbs with all its timeless wisdom in just one month.
We worked our way through Ken Taylor’s The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes several times. Of course, we had the older edition.
Both The Jesus Storybook Bible and The New City Catechism came into being after our children were older, but I have used them in Sunday school or with my grandchildren, and they are solid resources, too.
Ask yourself today, “What spiritual goals and desires do I have for my family?”
Then ask, “What am I doing to bring them to fruition?”
When you lean into the challenge of family discipleship, you cooperate with God in establishing habits of holiness in your children. Would you really want to miss that opportunity?
Holding you in the Light,
When you lean into the challenge of family discipleship, you cooperate with God in establishing habits of holiness in your children. Would you really want to miss that opportunity?Tweet
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