The following post was written by Jeffrey Klick (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) and first appeared on his website, www.JeffKlick.com. This is one part of a multi-post article.
Married With Children:
When God blesses a couple with children (through either childbirth or adoption), the discipleship opportunities expand. In addition to what was stated above about the husbands and wives, now there are additional lives involved. The same principles apply whether there is one child or a dozen regarding discipleship opportunities; the more children, the greater the possible impact. Regardless of family size, each couple will have to adjust their lifestyle once a child or children arrive. The first requirement for godly parents is to accept the biblical assignment regarding children:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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 bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
God has delegated the training of the children to their parents. This is a phenomenal sentence if we consider the ramifications of it. God has entered into a partnership with parents and He expects them to fulfill their roles. The Lord has built into every Christian family the opportunity for hands-on discipleship practice. As a unified team, husbands and wives begin the process of training a child in the ways of the Lord. This will help prepare both the parents and the children to reach out to other potential disciples. In addition, if the parents do a good job discipling those in their own homes, the destructive trend of faith rejection can be turned.
We have already mentioned making sure that both the husband and wife are growing spiritually in their own walk with the Lord, and this remains a focus after children arrive. Now the discipleship process needs to be enlarged to include the child(ren).
This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, a few of which have already been mentioned. First, the family schedule needs to be evaluated to assure that where the time is being spent is the most beneficial place. If it is not, then change must be made and the sooner the better. Second, mealtime offers a wonderful opportunity to bring Christ and the Scripture into the daily lives of each family member. Discussions can be planned or spontaneous, but make sure the Lord is a central figure in the conversations. Depending on the ages of the children, topics can range from interpersonal relationship challenges, to character development. The Scripture provides every answer to all questions either directly or in principle. Therefore, we must make sure that the Word of God is the center of our homes and always the ultimate resource for our answers.
Fathers can lead devotions around the meal table, in the living room or bedroom. These can be as deep as the level of understanding of the children. Bible stories can be read and discussed. Leading questions can be asked regarding moral choices, or characters’ actions, and a lively discussion can be achieved. The goal is to provide an atmosphere where Christ is central and the Word of God is valued. In addition, insights can be shared from the daily devotions that each parent or child recently received. The Psalm or Proverb of the day also provides an abundance of material that can be read and discussed. The materials and ideas for a good discussion are only limited by the imagination.
Family worship times can help provide a growing discipleship environment in the home. If someone plays an instrument, chorus books or hymnals can then be used to lead in songs. If no one plays an instrument, then MP3 players and CD’s abound that contain wonderful worship songs to be enjoyed in the home. Worship is supposed to be a part of every day and not relegated to Sunday services only and leading our children in worship will help keep Christ as the center of our homes. The children need to see the reality of our walk with Jesus in order to want to follow in our footsteps.
Here are some other ideas to consider prayerfully:
Mothers or fathers can read excellent books aloud to the family and then discuss them. These can cover any genre and could include classics like, Pilgrims Progress or Pride and Prejudice, fictional or actual history, end-times thrillers, and a host of other types of books. The book is not as important as the time spent together. Every discussion should focus on growing in Christ and obtaining a better understanding of how to walk with Him in our daily lives. The characters’ actions and thoughts can be evaluated and then their lives become object lessons to impart spiritual truth into our everyday lives.
Family prayer meetings can be called during times of crises or when the Lord’s specific direction is needed. Praying together and recording the request and the answer will help solidify the reality of Christ to the children. These times will often provide opportunities to explore issues like patience, waiting on God, what happens when God says, “no” to our prayers, etc. All of these are basic discipleship training issues. We teach our children to pray by praying. They will ultimately “catch” what is important to us by what we actually did, not necessarily what we said.
DVD’s or movies can be watched and evaluated from a biblical perspective. We are not to be naive or unaware of our adversary’s schemes, (Ephesians 6:11) and we should help our children process the entertainment they watch so they are growing in discernment as they mature (Hebrews 5:14). Every book, movie, and song have an author and they had a reason for writing what they did. These things may be germane in nature, but there is a spiritual side to everything and we must train our little disciples to grow in discernment.
Like any other discipleship relationship, the spending of time together is critical. A great deal of impartation and spiritual life takes place as you spend time doing the normal family activities. What is actually done is not as critical as the fact that a large amount of time is being spent together. Every parent looks for teachable moments, and the majority of these happen as large chunks of time are spent together. Very few people in nursing homes regret not spending more time at the office yet often regret that they cannot spend more time with their family. We can only spend time once, choose wisely.
All Scripture references are from the ESV – English Standard Version