Much like the late great Whitney Houston, in her song “Greatest Love Of All,” I too believe that the children are our future. And much like the late great Solomon says in Proverbs 22:6 I also believe that if we “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” There is a lot in the world coming at our children. They are being exposed to things that I was not exposed to until middle school and sometimes high school. There is evidence all around us that the world is not becoming more Godly. Our children’s only defense against the world is the Gospel. They need to know and view their world through the lens of the Gospel so as they grow older they can discern good from evil.
I believe that most parents would agree with the fact that our children are living in a dangerous world and they need Jesus. Many of those same parents would say one of the main reasons they take their children to church is so they will learn about the gospel and how to live it out. Many churches would say that’s why they offer programs like Vacation Bible School and Children’s Camps and why they are always in need of more volunteers in Children’s Sunday School. All of these programs are great for churches, families, and communities, but on the subject of discipling our children, I would say none of those programs are God’s plan. I believe God’s plan for discipling the future generation is their parents.
When talking about parents discipling their children the go-to verse is Deuteronomy 6:4-7 (ESV) “4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 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. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Here Moses very plainly explains to us in verse 7 that we are responsible for teaching the Lord’s commands to our children. Not the church, not our friends, and not their peers.
I am even more confident about the role of parents because of passages in the New Testament like Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We, as parents, are not to put them in a situation where they can be brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord; we are to do it ourselves.
If you are a parent, this is a command on your life. Disciple your children. For many of us this is a scary command. We aren’t theologians. We don’t have the gift of teaching. We are barely able to keep our own walk with God on track, how can we possibly guide our children?
These are normal fears that I think come from lack of preparation of parents to disciple their children. My charge is two-fold. First to the church, the Bible is clear that parents are to be the main disciplers of their children. How are you equipping your parents to obey scripture? How can you be better at preparing your parents to disciple their children?
Next to parents, it is very scary to have to be the main discipler of your children. The good news is you don’t have to do it alone. Your church family is there to help you; it truly does “take a village to raise a child.” Though your call is to be the main discipler, it is not to be the only discipler. The church is the perfect place to come along side you and reinforce the gospel you are showing and teaching your children. More good news is that you don’t have to have it all together in order to disciple your children. If that was the requirement, no one, including your pastors, would be qualified to disciple anyone. Though scary, discipling your children doesn’t have to be difficult. We don’t have to know all the answers to disciple our children. We do need to be faithful devoted followers of Christ. I can tell you from experience that there is no greater accountability than knowing that your little ones are going to be asking about your Bible study that day. Discipling our children can make us better disciples.
My intent with this blog is not to instruct you on how to disciple your children. A simple Google search will take you to hundreds of resources and articles on how to disciple your children written by people with PhDs and MDivs or ThMs that focus on that. Here is a pretty basic easy to start process https://www.gospelproject.com/8-tips-to-help-you-disciple-your-kids/.
My prayer is that this blog lights a fire in your heart to be the road to which your children meet Jesus and learn what it means to be in a relationship with their heavenly Father. Charles Spurgeon said “Whether we teach young Christians truth or not, the devil will be sure to teach them error.” Our children are at church no more than 2 to 4 hours a week. That leaves a minimum of 100 other hours, excluding sleeping, during the week that they are not hearing, seeing, discussing, the Gospel. With those odds it is hard to see how the Gospel can grab a hold of their heart and life. But if we as parents honor God’s command to disciple our children during some of those 100 hours they aren’t at church to the best of our abilities, I believe that we will see God do great things in our life and the lives of our children.
“Here, then, is the secret. You must impart to the young your own soul; you must feel as if the ruin of that child would be your own ruin.” – Charles Spurgeon