That is what Jesus has called the church to do. As parents, he has entrusted you with children to raise and nurture in the gospel. Because of these two realities, healthy student ministries aim to partner with parents to make disciples of the next generation.
Disciple-making should be the lens through which student ministries plan and evaluate events, retreats, structure, and weekly ministries. The goal should be to reach students with the gospel and equip them to be disciple-makers. However, the amount of time students will spend in these weekly ministries, retreats, and events is a small fraction of the time they will spend with in the home.
Making disciples is the mission of the church but it gets worked out most fully in the home. In this way, parents are the primary disciple makers of their children.
So, how do you make disciples at home? How do you help your students come to faith in Christ? How can you help your student take the next step in their walk with Christ? How do you make disciples when you’re so busy already? How do you make disciples when there are so many other influences in your student’s life?
Making disciples at home isn’t a cookie-cutter process. It won’t just happen if you love Jesus and pray before your meals. It won’t work simply to hope that someone else will do it. Making disciples at home will only happen as parents pursue making disciples of their children with intentionality and dependence on God.
Here are three categories to help you think about how you can more faithfully make disciples at home:
Be A Disciple
Making disciples at home begins with being a disciple of Christ. Many parents put their children in church because they want them to have a positive influence in life. Ironically, what they hope for their children, they fail to pursue themselves. Other parents want their children to follow Jesus and make wise decisions, but they simply don’t hold themselves to that same standard.
The goal we should desire for our children is that they know Christ and submit their lives to Him. This is the hallmark of a disciple. If we desire this for our children, we cannot help them get to where we have not gone ourselves. How is your relationship with God? How are your doing at prioritizing time in God’s Word? How are you working out your faith in the office? In your marriage? I challenge you to so live for Christ as his disciple that your children can’t help but take notice.
As You Go
Deuteronomy 6:4-8 is a key text in thinking about what making disciples at home looks like. What is striking about this passage is that it describes everyday life. How do you help your children love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “Talk about it when you sit down in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In other words, as you go throughout each day and week, talk about the Lord with your children. Talk about it on the ride home from school, on the way to practice, around the kitchen table, as you get ready in the morning, or before you go to bed each night. These conversations don’t have to be formal or equate to a Bible study.
Here’s what disciple-making looks like:
- Ask questions.
- Listen to the struggles and problems your student faces in their life.
- Think through gospel truths your student needs to hear.
- Find ways to connect that truth to their life.
- Pray for God’s work and direction in your student’s life.
Maybe its an argument with their friend that allows you to encourage your students towards showing grace. Maybe its talking identity in Christ at breakfast the day after the big game. Maybe its serving your student in a tangible way when they are walking through a disappointment. Maybe its showing your son or daughter what it means to honor the opposite sex after an inappropriate comment. Maybe it is helping them think through sharing the gospel with a friend or inviting a neighbor to church. All of these moments can happen in your home, on the go, or around the table.
I know, they don’t always want to hear it from mom or dad. While they might not want to hear it or may appear not to listen, these words and moments can have a lasting impact long after the awkwardness or silence is gone. Think of your parenting as having a cumulative impact on the direction of your child’s life. It most likely won’t be one particular conversation that changes everything, but it will be the everyday, as you go, ordinary moments that shape and mold who your child is in Christ.
There are multiple ways families make time for family worship, but the most important point is that you make time for it. I’ll be the first to acknowledge this can be difficult to do consistently. However, its value is worth the difficulty of figuring out how to do it. Many make the mistake of making this time more than it has to be. You do not necessarily have to prepare a Bible study for family worship. In Donald Whitney’s book Family Worship, he encourages a simple plan: read the Bible, pray together, and sing. Take time to reflect on a passage of the Bible (maybe from Sunday’s message), pray together (ask your student about the things on their heart/mind), and sing. Here’s a great interview explaining more about Family Worship by Donald Whitney (click HERE).
Making disciples at home is vital. This is not intended to make you feel bad for not doing this or not doing it well. Nor is it about adding more to your already busy life. Making disciples happens in everyday life. We cannot relegate it to Sunday. It must be woven into our daily life.
Let me encourage you: this probably will not always go as you would like. There will be some failures. There will be some funny attempts to connect God’s truth to your teenager’s life. In the midst of this pursuit, don’t grow weary in doing what is right. Don’t lose sight of the goal.
Don’t forget making disciples is ultimately a work of God’s grace through His Spirit. God has given us His Word that we might pass it on to our children “so that a future generation-children yet to be born-might know. They were to rise and tell their children, so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep His commands.” (Psalm 78:5-7).