Family discipleship is intended to be part of the natural rhythm of families. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 says,
You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.
The Israelites are told to first put God’s Word in their own hearts and souls, then to teach God’s Word to their children as they go about the events of their days. Also, they are taught to put God’s Word in places of their homes where visitors would know the importance of His Word to the whole family. God gives each parent this beautiful task of teaching His Word to their children, and it is such a gift. It bears weight when we want to teach them about the relentless love of Christ, show them how to live in His love, and shepherd them as our Good Shepherd leads us. We pray for their salvation and as they begin to follow Him, we want to prepare them for work in His Kingdom.
This does not automatically happen from one approach implemented from an amazing parenting book or from following a regimented schedule at bedtime every single night. Instead, this comes from knowing your children, personally abiding in Christ, and making the most of the moments you have with your family to talk about the preciousness of Jesus. The beauty of how you make disciples is that your family discipleship will have a flavor all its own that will bring glory to Jesus. What will spiritually nourish your family may look different from other families, and there is no secret formula to success here. Our God delights in the variety of His creation and He has given us different children to know, love, teach, and parent.
For our family, teaching the Bible as one story made up of many books that all point to Jesus as Rescuer is something we’re focusing on in this season. We have “Family Time” every evening we can where we talk about our day, share something we’re thankful for, read Bible stories together, pray for each other, and sing songs (if we last that long). We believe our children will learn about Jesus as they’re taught directly from us about Him and taught indirectly as we go about our days directing their attention to Him in the everyday moments. We are showing them through repentance with them and dependence on Christ what living a life of joyful obedience looks like. It’s as simple as that. As a family, we switch reading through “The Jesus Storybook Bible” by Sally Lloyd Jones to show the Bible as one story with Jesus as the hero, “I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God” by Dianne Stortz to learn God’s names in Scripture and to practice calling Him by those names as we pray, and using the “New City Catechism” by Tim Keller with the app for memory and songs as we go along. We rotate through these resources as a family and will continue to add new ones as we keep wanting to know our children and what teaches and captures their hearts at every stage of their development. More than reproducing anything that works for our family (as most of it I’ve just reproduced from others in a way that fits us best), I want to encourage you to know your children, abide in Christ, and ask for His help in weaving conversations about His love into your everyday moments.
Out of the overflow of time abiding in Him and His love for you, He will lead you in love as you make disciples of your children in the moments of your days together. It is never too early or too late to start making disciples of your children with intention by the power of the Holy Spirit. May wisdom, grace, gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control, your own family flavor, and the love of Jesus be yours in abundance as you faithfully steward this gift of parenting and bring glory to His Name.