“What you accomplish for God beyond your home will typically never be greater than what you practice with God within your home.” –Timothy Paul Jones
My objective is to help parents learn how to effectively become the primary disciple-makers in their home through intentional Gospel conversations and family discipleship. God’s intent in creation was to multiply His presence throughout the earth through His children for the glory of His Name (Gen 1:28; 9:1,7; Hab 2:14).
To accomplish His purpose God has ordained parents as the primary faith trainers of their children (Deut 6:4-9; Ps 78:1-8; Prov 22:6; Matt 28:18-20; Eph 6:4). Unfortunately, many parents depend on others to disciple their children because they feel unequipped or do not have a plan. The method presented here is intended to help get you started. It is a simple and reproducible strategy that will help both biological and spiritual parents faithfully disciple children who will in time, by God's grace, disciple others creating generational growth of disciples for the glory of God.
Children, although created in the image of God are dead in their sin and in need of a Savior (Eph 2:1-4). Therefore, a parent's first objective is to saturate the hearts of their children with Gospel truth. Parents should consistently and constantly engage with their children in Gospel conversations. Our prayer is that these organic and natural conversations will be used by the Holy Spirit to give new life to our children.
Step 1: Gospel Story
The goal in this step is not to aggressively share the Gospel (Roman Road, Four Spiritual Laws, you get my point), but to share Gospel stories that create opportunity for us to bridge into a full Gospel presentation.
To accomplish this these Gospel stories should be memorized: Luke 7:36-50, 18:9-17;19:1-10; Matthew 18:21-35. These are specific Biblical narratives that communicate Gospel truth. There are many other Gospel stories that are applicable, this is just the start point.
As you abide in the Word of God seek opportunity to naturally share those Gospel stories with your child spontaneously and regularly.
You might initiate the conversation by saying, "Hey Joseph, I was reading a story the other day about this woman who came into this fancy dinner and started pouring perfume on the feet of Jesus. And then she started washing his feet with her tears. It is a crazy cool story! Can I have a couple minutes and share that story with you."
Step 2: Testimony
As parents we should practice making these stories real and applicable by sharing a small portion of our own story that is consistent with the Gospel story.
You might say, "You know, I used to be like Simon in that story. I thought I was better than other people, but now I am like that woman because..."
Step 3: Gospel Presentation
Discerning the child’s understanding and receptivity to the story parents can decide if a full Gospel presentation is warranted.
Discipleship & Family Worship
Parents should regularly devote time to discipleship/family worship with their children. Everyday should include time discussing the Scripture and at least once a week there should be a time of formal family worship.
The following is a helpful structure to order your family worship time as well as your one-on-one discipleship time with your child. It is intended to help children become self-feeders of the Scripture. As we model this inductive approach to the Word our children will eventually, in their own study time, begin to apply what we have modeled and pull from the text the author's meaning.
Step 1: Shepherd their Hearts
Begin with Prayer. Demonstrate our complete dependence on God and His illumination.
Ask following questions as a way to care for your child's heart.
Ask children to share with you their major joy from the week.
Ask children to share major difficulty from the week.
Take time to lovingly hold them accountable.
Ask how your child how they obeyed Jesus today or this week.
Ask if they obeyed their goal from the previous lesson.
Ask if they have been praying daily.
Ask if they have read their bible daily (if reading age).
End this step by reviewing the weekly catechism question and then transition into new Bible content.
Step 2: Bible Content
Read a preselected text that is easily observable and applicable or the sermon text from Sunday Worship. (Examples: Acts 8:26-39, Luke 10:25-37; Hebrews 10:24-25; Mark 12:41-44.)
Ask the following questions that can help the child observe, interpret and apply the text. These questions are not exhaustive, but are starting points to help the child extract from the text the author's intended meaning and then rightly make personal application.
What does this text teach about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or the Kingdom of God?
Who are characters in the text?
Do they set an example to follow or avoid?
If so, ask the child to elaborate.
Is there a sin to avoid in this text?
Is there a promise from God to believe?
Are there commands to obey for God’s glory?
Why is this included in Scripture?
Does this remind you of other stories in the Bible?
What should we do since we have studied this passage?
Step 3: Goals
Considering the Great Commission teaches a mark of a disciple is one who obeys all that Christ commanded we want to help our children obey.
One way to create a culture of obedience is by setting goals and then holding your child accountable for their obedience. To do this ask the child to set a goal based off the new Bible content they have just learned.
To help your child apply the Scripture and obey you need to help them create goals that they can consciously seek to meet based off the truth learned form the Scripture.
You might ask, "Ok Joseph, we learned today that God forgives us because of Jesus and if we have been forgiven we should also forgive other people. So my question to you is, is there anyone that you are upset with or angry with that you need to forgive? Is there someone that you should go share with that because you have been forgiven you need to forgive them? Or maybe, you have hurt someone else and need to go ask them to forgive you?"
Remember, we are seeking obedience that flows from intimacy with Christ, not an obedience that is motivated by a legalistic fear.
Conclude your time with prayer asking the Holy Spirit to enable their obedience.