It is the call on every Christian to be Jesus-disciple-makers. Parents and grandparents are on the frontline of Jesus-disciple-making, yet where do they start? How do they fit in one more thing among laundry, grocery-shopping, school, extracurricular, and dentist appointments? This is where we come in, the local church family ministry champions, to lock elbows, share prayer space, and resource families to bring Jesus into what they are already doing.
There wasn’t near as much out there to help Christian families navigate discipling their families in the 1990s. As a young mom I recall four books which, partnered with the Bible and my local church, helped me most along my way:
Tim Keller’s Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Home
Lisa Whelchel’s Creative Correction
Kevin Leman’s Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours
Mom, You’re Incredible (white book with teal MOM on the cover and have no idea who wrote it, but it was a game-changer!) Do you sense a theme?
Today there are so many options and not near enough time for parents to curate the best, the most practical to help them as they are in the trenches of everyday. Let’s face it, there is just too much information at the end of our fingertips to go deep into anything so they are overwhelmed and just too tired. Again, this is where we come in.
I just finished the best 163 pages I’ve read this year for equipping those devoted to discipling their own families. Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin of The Village Church offer in Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments, & Milestones a practical framework of bringing Jesus into what most families are already doing in all seasons of a child’s life.
Published in August 2020, this resource provides today’s family leaders with the sigh of relief that not all family discipleship practices are enjoyed; some are endured. But, ‘our role is to plant seeds of truth, water them, and pray that God will give them life and growth as we trust in his goodness and mercy over all our shortcomings.’ (pg 21)
“You cannot be a Christian family if you are not a disciple-making family, because your family can’t truly follow Christ if you are not doing what Christ commanded – trying to become more and more like him and leading others to do the same.” (pg 30)
In the community of family, we learn best to prepare meals, serve one another, establish rules for living, protect ourselves from dangers, celebrate, and practice academic and social skills. We also learn to become more like Jesus in this community together through time (thinking about, talking about, and living out the good news of Jesus in holy habits), moments (leveraging those daily moments of life which are developmentally appropriate), and milestones (marking and making the remarkable moments of life wrapped in God’s presence and faithfulness to His people.) Each chapter offers the author’s experiences and time plans for those of us who like lists and boxes to fill in.
Time: Rather than thinking everything should be a Broadway production, lower your expectations and think about the positive, cumulative effect of holy habits over time such as Bible reading, devotional time, scripture memory, meals, prayer, worship, and service and how modeling that behavior in the adult’s life is the best teacher.
“A child disciple of Jesus Christ is a child who loves God, loves people, and imparts what God has revealed to them to others. You love what you know.” (pg 43)
Moments: Being attentive and alert to opportunities to talk about the attributes of God, foundational truths about who God is and who they are, and how God’s word is a treasure to explore and discover. As a teacher and family discipleship coach, my favorite pages were pages 122-130…so rich in practicality and narrowing down the spiritual building blocks for living as an exile in today’s culture.
Milestones: Acknowledging God’s work and faithful presence in the remarkable moments of life like births, death, losses, disappointments, driver’s licenses, graduations, starts and ends of school years, heirlooms, new homes, etc. It is in the milestones where there is a ‘tremendous opportunity to extend the discipleship process to your child’s extended family, friends, neighbors, and biblical community’ (pg 136). There are pages of examples at the end of this chapter to simply make events that are already happening spiritually memorable.
As leaders for ministry with families in the local church, we are neither event planners nor community center coordinators. We are family discipleship coaches! D6 Family Ministry shared in a December meme for the local church champions in ministry with children and families: “Good equippers do it like Jesus did it; recruit twelve, graduate eleven, and focus on three.” So glad I have a new calendar with all that white space.
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.” 2 John 4