The local church has adopted the language of our education system, but not the practices,” said Rev. Jeremy Bannister at the Discipleship Begins at Home online conference. He goes on to share that our school system has metrics to measure academic standards, regular conditioning for team sports, and accountability measures for every extracurricular commitment our families engage in, but not discipleship and followership of Jesus.

As leaders in the local church our job is to equip the saints to do the good work of following Jesus and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Parents and grandparents are on the front line. Parents and grandparents know their desired outcome: for their kids to love Jesus with their whole hearts for their whole lives. It’s up to us, the Christian education professionals, to give them the tools and the metrics of what is developmentally appropriate and be honest about what it’ll take.

Be honest that one hour of Sunday school will never be enough to learn the skills necessary to beat the devil and grow a robust faith over the other 167 hours of a week.

Be honest that most Sunday school curricula offers the basic foundation of God made you and Jesus loves you over and over and over again. Repeated every year. Year after year. This will not nurture a robust faith able to engage with a loud and angry culture coming at them through every means possible.

Be honest that some parents and grandparents haven’t been trained in their own discipleship with the same standards, commitment, and metrics to confidently know what will make a hill of beans by the time their child walks across the graduation stage for that 12-year diploma or takes on their first job with a Godly resilience.

Be honest that we can do our own discipleship better by modeling our own consistent holy habits of systematic Bible reading, tithing, serving the world for the greater good, engaging in robust conversation by asking good questions, and not forsaking gathering together in Christian community in ways beyond what our jobs require.

Be honest to ask ourselves, “If every disciple of Jesus is just like me, where will God’s kingdom be here on earth?”

This is the good news. There’s no time like the present to get started.

Prayerfully consider an accountability partner to begin reading the Bible in a systematic way. How can you teach from a textbook when you haven’t experienced it as a whole to be reasonable and applicable? 

Tip: Once a child begins reading chapter books, they can read a chapter of the Bible. Not as a study, but to read. Read to learn the whole Jesus story, to learn the language of our Creator, and to recognize the voice of our good shepherd. Read the book aloud. Find an easy-reader Bible and just read. If a full bible, begin in Luke because it’s a narrative. Dr. Luke wrote what he researched from eye witnesses.

The Next Generations Ministries offers a a fabulous Discipleship for Life edition of metrics for developmentally appropriate holy habit practices beginning at birth-one year old and every year following. Not in a legalistic, check off the box way, but a gentle reminder of what starting and continuing looks like for a disciple of Jesus. They also have a 5-year plan for students and adults who haven’t begun the Discipleship for Life edition for an intentional start or re-start. These resources were shared at the Discipleship Begins at Home conference. I’ve been able to roll some of these out easily and effectively.

Prayerfully consider along with your significant other how you can grow into regular, systematic tithing. 

Prayerfully consider who you’d like to spend time with (someone older and more spiritually mature) and invite him/her to co-lead a small group Bible study for the fall. There are three seasons for small group Bible study: fall, winter/spring, summer. You will grow in deeper relationships, sacred conversations, and Biblical wisdom in community with healthy accountability. If you’re a young-married, co-lead with another who has been married for a long time. If you’re a mom, find a mom further down the road and more mature in her walk to co-lead. If you’re a more-mature, find a younger to co-lead with.

Prayerfully consider offering parents and grandparents this fall a couple of metrics for daily (Bible reading, prayer), weekly (fellowship, giving), monthly (service) soul training to be experienced at home, along the road, at the table, with conversation prompts to grow a healthy confidence in discipleship. Offer a Parenting With A Purpose class to roll it out, then follow it up with, “How’s it going?”

So. How’s it going?

“May I stand before the throne of God able to say, “Lord Jesus, I did everything I could do to make sure my children are well-founded in the person of Christ.” – Rev. Jeremy Bannister, Discipleship Begins at Home Conference,