Go Downstairs and Make Disciples
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20
Most believers are familiar with Matthew 28:18-20, otherwise known as the Great Commission. This final directive from Jesus to spread His gospel message weighs heavily on our shoulders and most of us are actively looking for ways we can go and carry out this command. I wonder, however, how often us parents overlook our most obvious disciples - our own children? We will never have more influence in a person's life than that which has been entrusted to us as parents. These precious souls that have been placed under our care, who live in our home and eat at our table should be the focus and priority of our evangelical pursuits.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Not to be too heavy-handed, but parenting is an eternally important job and we only get one shot. Of course, we get many, many days that will be filled with a mixture of victories and failures, but over-all, we only raise our children once. No do-overs. No second chances. And then we will stand before God and give an account.
I don't say these things to add pressure to an already overwhelming job but rather to make sure we are wide awake to this serious and weighty opportunity. The two decades we spend raising our kids will bear exponential and eternal fruit and we must be faithful! We must! I will undoubtedly have a few regrets when I reach the end of my life, but I am unwilling to look back with regret on the way I disciple my kids. I cannot do it in my own strength, but with God's help I commit to showing up, sharing the word, and celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ every single day.
Many children, in the early years, will naturally want to imitate their parents. Hence the way young children speak and the songs they sing and the activities they enjoy may tell us more about ourselves than them. While it's not wrong for your kids to know all the lyrics to your favorite song or to memorize the current roster of your favorite team, don't neglect this opportunity to model and teach spiritual disciplines and truths.
1 Cor. 11:1
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
I read a parenting article recently that held the following quote: "Parenting is one of the hardest jobs we will ever hold and most of us do it in our spare time." This quote makes me so sad because I know it represents the real life situation for many hardworking parents. If mom and dad are both at work all day while the kids are at school and the evenings are filled with sports and homework you may end up with a few minutes together at the dinner table (or not) and a few hours on the weekend and that's it. How are you supposed to make disciples in your home if you are hardly ever there at the same time?
Hectic schedules are the way of the modern world, but we are called to be in but not of the world which includes our day-planners. If the above description represents your current situation (or something close) I would ask you to prayerfully consider the following questions:
1. What simple, biblical routine could we incorporate into our current schedule? (For example, reading a scripture at the breakfast table and then praying for the day ahead or having a family time on the weekend which includes a devotional thought or prayer or attending church regularly as a family.)
2. What good things could we cut from our schedule to make room for the best things? (Do I really need to train for a marathon right now? Is t-ball more beneficial for my child than devotions and conversation at the dinner table? Is this activity at church unnecessarily dividing our family one more night of the week?)
Biblical resources and routines will go a long way in the lives of your children but both of these require time - and they require YOU! God lays the responsibility for spiritual discipleship on the parents - not Sunday school or youth group leaders. (Although we're glad for all the help we can get!) I encourage you to prayerfully consider what God might be calling you to change or give up in order to be faithful to His commission to make disciples and to teach your kids diligently. All great things have a great cost - so count that cost and move forward in obedience - whatever that looks like for your family.
The director for our BSF children's ministry inspired me with the following words: "We have heard of people taking the gospel to the four corners of the earth, but when we give the gospel to a child we are taking the gospel to the future."
Father, thank you for entrusting us with these precious children. Give us wisdom to structure our schedules in ways that honor You. Fill us up with your truth and grace that we might overflow Your goodness in our home. Teach us as we seek to teach our kids. Guide us as we guide them. May the truth of Your gospel cause each one of us to be rooted and grounded in love to Your glory. In Jesus' name, Amen.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Need some ideas on how to get started? Check out the following articles:
Beginner's Guide to Family Worship
Our Favorite Family Devotionals (for young families)