Making Disciples at Home
All throughout the Bible, we see God repeatedly place the mantle for discipleship of the next generation very firmly on the shoulders of parents. It is our duty as mothers and fathers to raise our own children in the fear and love of God. Making disciples always starts at home as we seek to cultivate faithfulness to King Jesus in our families.
Three primary places where we see this…
Deuteronomy 6:5-8 – “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 write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Psalm 78:1-8 – “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done… 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…”
Joshua 24:14-15 – “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
From these and more, it becomes clear – as parents we are to spend time, effort, and intentionality in cultivating spiritual health in our children. Discipling them is not a casual endeavor; we are to approach it with diligence! The question we must all face is simple – how can we be faithful to this high calling? What are some strategies for making disciples at home?
Here are four simple habits I would offer as starting points…
1. Family Worship
One of the best ways to immerse your home in the Word of God is through Family Worship – a time together as an entire family reading the Bible, praying and singing together. We encourage you to practice this daily, setting a habit for your family to become fluent and conversant in the Word of God!
How should you go about leading this time? Keep it simple – 10 minutes max, read a short passage of scripture, ask some questions that help its meaning become clear, allow each family member to pray aloud, and then sing a song together (use YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music to help). Even if it seems difficult at first, jump in and you will find it to be an incredibly healthy habit for your family. Click here to read an article on family worship from our Worship Pastor Jeremy Daniels for some additional tips here.
2. Personal Devotions
Another incredibly important tool for making disciples at home is leading each member of the family to develop a personal, individual habit of spending time daily with God in studying the Bible. When children are young, you will lead them through this moment as their guide; as they grow older, your goal is to hand this moment off to them. With your spouse, cultivate health by discussing your own devotional time and asking questions about theirs. The goal is to equip and encourage your family to study and obey the Bible as they follow Jesus faithfully!
If you would like to consider some strategies for how to lead young children through this time, we recommend checking out The Bridge Class from our Emmaus Kid’s Ministry. If you would like to explore how to start having this type of devotional time yourself, click here.
3. Big Milestones
Our lives are marked by milestone moments that serve as “rights-of-passage” as we grow from children to adults. From getting a driver’s license to registering to vote, these moments help us mark these transitions by calling us into adulthood and its responsibilities. As parents raising young disciples, it is important to develop spiritual milestones as well – intentional rights-of-passage that will help you call your child into spiritual adulthood. Here are a few ideas…
- Joining “Big Church” – Celebrate a strategic birthday as a marker when your child will begin joining you on Sundays in adult worship rather than kids ministry. Use the moment to explain the importance of congregational worship and the norms (sitting quietly, listening attentively, taking notes, singing, giving, etc).
- Baptism/First Communion – Celebrate your child placing faith in Jesus with church baptism and inviting the child to begin to take communion during worship. Explain the Biblical symbolism of each of these, and allow them to become markers of their justifying faith.
- First Mission Trip – Set a strategic age to celebrate by taking a child overseas on a mission trip to serve others. Use the opportunity to explain the importance of sharing the Gospel, serving others, and advancing God’s Kingdom. Use the trip as a strategic week of one-on-one discipleship with them, debriefing daily.
- Celebration of Manhood/Womanhood – Consider an age to strategically celebrate your child becoming an adult (we recommend 13-17). Commemorate the occasion with a milestone event to give expectations for them spiritually. Consider enlisting older spiritual mentors in their lives during a celebration that allows them to speak into your child</li
4. Little Moments
As parents, each day gives us dozens of small moments that are opportunities to talk about God, his nature, and salvation. As you seek to raise your children, be mindful to take these moments captive to develop a conversational faith in the hearts of your family. Simply look for moments that surprise you in some way (amaze, delight, sadden, scare) and find a way to connect them to God. Make observations and ask questions to help them understand him. Here are a few examples…
- Snowy Day – Explain the wonder of snowflakes – each one unique and crafted with incredible beauty when seen under a microscope (show photo from online). Explain how the Bible tells us that God is our creator, designing everything to show his glory. Pray and thank God for the snow that reminds us of him.
- Passing an Ambulance – Acknowledge that someone may be hurt and going to the hospital for help. Leverage the moment to pray together as a family for the person, asking God to heal them, help the doctors, and bring comfort.
- Storm/Bad Weather – Take the moment to explain that God is our protector, and that his power is stronger than the storms. Remind them of the story from Mark 4:35-41, when Jesus calms a storm with his voice. Pray together, asking God to protect you.
Truly, every mountain you pass and every sunset you see is an opportunity to reflect upon God and his goodness. Learn to talk regularly of God and his nature among your children so they can understand who God is intuitively as they grow and begin to study scripture.
In all of these things – family worship, personal devotions, milestones, and moments – remember the ultimate goal is to help each member of your family have their own walk with Jesus. God has placed us in their lives for a reason – let’s leverage our influence to help them trust Jesus with lifelong vibrant faith! Making disciples starts at home – let’s be faithful to our calling!
Note – This article has been condensed from the second week of content in Faith Filled Family – a 3-week class offered by our Emmaus Institute in January 2020. For a detailed overview of the entire course, please click here. Also, listen to our recording from the Week 2 Class – “Making Disciples at Home” – from the Emmaus Institute Podcast below.