Family Discipleship Part 1

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Last night we had a family devotion time. My kids have come to expect that a couple of times a week we sit down together and talk about the Bible as a family, in addition to our nightly prayer time. I felt like last night went pretty well, certainly a bit better than it sometimes goes. Our topic was Justification through Christ. After playing a short little word game, I explained justification, our sin, Christ’s sacrifice and how He took our full punishment for sin. Drew got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing. Sam said outright, “I don’t think I’m gonna be able to remember this at all.” So, it certainly wasn’t perfect, but we still count it as a win!

At Aspen Grove Church, we place a heavy emphasis and value on Family Discipleship. When we say Family Discipleship, what we mean is parents taking direct responsibility for the spiritual growth of their children by intentionally putting practices into place that foster development. Numerous studies have reinforced an idea that most of us have experienced to be true: that parents have extremely high influence over the character, attitude, and belief system of their children. We believe that matters of faith and belief cannot be simply left to chance when it comes to our kids. We can’t expect them to simply explore what the world has to offer and somehow come out Christian on the other side. We can’t expect dropping them off at church programs to be enough. And we certainly can’t assume that just because we believe something that they will too. Raising our children into a vibrant, life-giving faith takes intention, effort, and even sacrifice. 

Passing down faith and belief from one generation to the next has been part of God’s design since the beginning. In Deuteronomy 32, Moses lays out this concept beautifully saying, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but YOUR VERY LIFE…”

“Parents, you have the massive responsibility of teaching their children that the Bible is no empty word for them, but to demonstrate that it is your very life! “

Parents, you have the massive responsibility of teaching their children that the Bible is no empty word for them, but to demonstrate that it is your very life! This doesn’t happen by accident. In this 2 part blog post, as well as in our weekly gathering, we want to equip parents to fulfill Aspen Grove Church’s mission in their families: to lead people (in this case your family) to growth and transformation in Christ!

The Goal is Growth

I can nearly feel the collective eye-roll that is inevitable with a post like this. Parents are already stressed out, pushed to the limit, with no room left on their plates. I’ve spoken to many parents over the years that were so burdened by just getting their kids to church a couple times a month was a stretch that adding more “spirituality” to their lives felt out of the question. For that reason, in many cases, the idea of immediately adopting an entirely new lifestyle that includes daily prayer time and regular family devotions, is downright unrealistic, or even laughably impractical.

So let’s pump the brakes for a second. While the idea of consistently integrating the Bible into your families natural rhythms may seem far-fetched, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. I’m realistic and experienced enough to realize that the goals and practices laid out in Part 2 set a really high bar. I’m also honest enough to tell you that we still continually fail in many of these areas. Believe me when I say that we are not doing this perfectly and that we are certainly a work in progress! And if you find yourself in a place in which your faith is new or becoming revitalized, or if introducing these new things into your children’s lives all of a sudden feels uncomfortable or unnatural, that’s OK! The goal is growth, for you as an individual as well as for your family, and growth is incremental.

“The goal is growth, for you as an individual as well as for your family, and growth is incremental.”

Upon adopting a nightly prayer time or a weekly family devotion time or initiating an intentional spiritual conversation with your kids, you will almost certainly hear from kids of just about any age, “Why are we doing this? We’ve never done this before.” We are all creatures of habit, and adjusting to new and unusual activities can be tough. But every journey begins with the first step, and if you aim at nothing, you’re sure to hit it (and so on with various cliché motivational statements). You’ve just got to start! Set goals for yourself and for your family and move toward them. when you fail, admit the failure and try again the next week. The goal is growth, not perfection. It starts with you. You are the parent, the leader, the influencer. Make the effort to disciple your kids, showing them that God’s Word is no empty word for them, but your very life!

Check out Part 2 for more practical ways that discipleship can begin to take shape in your family life!

Matt FunkComment