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As parents, our greatest hope for our kids is that they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Not just knowing about him, but having a personal relationship with him and living their lives to honor him.
And, as young parents, we had great plans of family devotions, Sunday schools and Kid Ministries, toys, books, and movies, and special moments where we would open the scriptures and pass down spiritual wisdom and Biblical literacy. As someone who worked for a church, we were going to make sure our kids had the tools, resources, and know how, making them young Bible scholars.
As I said, we had plans. And for years, we strived to raise our kids with that plan in mind. I remember Amy reading Bible storybooks to the kids as part of their bed time routine. We kept CDs of Adventures in Odyssey to listen to and copies of VeggieTales DVDs to watch in the minivan for long road trips. And we attended some amazing churches with wonderful Sunday school and kid ministries that helped to teach the Bible. Yes, we tried to follow the plan.
But while DVDs, CDs, books and Sunday schools are great, there was one area that we were never able to really conquer. In fact if we were honest, we would say that we were really bad at this. Family Devotions. We wrote a blog about it here, Family Devotions. We Suck At Them!
We could never really nail down family devotions. Special seasons in the church calendar, yes. Holidays, yes. But nothing like a daily or weekly time with our kids. And, that's always bothered us. We knew other families who were having regular family devotions. We were hearing through various Christian family ministry leaders the importance of family devotions. We just weren't very good at making them happen for our family.
The book was published in 2020, and includes content from a series of sermons and messages given at The Village Church, while Matt was lead pastor and Adam served as the spiritual formation pastor. Not only have I found sermon series, but also a number stand-alone messages that share the theme of family discipleship.
The book focuses attention on three primary ideas; Time, Moments, and Milestones. These three ideas shape the formation of Family Discipleship. But what I love about this book is how both Matt and Adam, remind parents that while it is our responsibility to teach our kids about God, it is not our job to save them.
Let me say that a little more clearly. As parents, it is our God-given job to tell our kids about God; to introduce them to Jesus Christ through the gospel. Moses gives us that command in Deuteronomy 6:4-8. Parents, we are the ones who have been tasked with the responsibility of teaching our kids about God. But the saving, well, that's God.
Early on we are reminded that salvation comes from and through God. Yes, we are to do the work of leading, teaching, modeling; but it's God who ignites the spark of faith. That faith grows as the Holy Spirit works to take what is being taught and modeled, and uses it to move the young heart towards maturity. I don't know about you, but is a huge relief!
So what is Family Discipleship? Matt and Adam, give a great definition for family discipleship.
Here's what I love about this definition; whatever, whenever. Yep! Whatever! Whenever!
I love it because it's not about a nightly routine at the dinner table where you open the Bible, read scripture, and engage in a 30 minute discussion over what the verses are saying, teaching, or commanding. We tried that. We weren't very good at it. But as young parents, that's what we were hearing. And every time we met another family who bragged about their amazing nightly devotions, we felt like failures.
However, Matt and Adam, level the playing field and make family discipleship something that's actually possible. Time. Moments. Milestones. These make up the framework for family discipleship. But it all begins with how we as parents model our own faith in front of our kids.
What is modeling? Matt and Adam say it this way, "[Modeling is] serving as a godly example for your family, living out your genuine walk with God, and demonstrating true repentance where and when you fall short." (Family Discipleship, page 43. Emphasis mine.)
Again, I love this explanation. Notice what it doesn't say. It doesn't say that we need to be experts in theology and scripture. We don't have to have a degree or fancy, abbreviated letters following our name. We don't have to have all the answers. We don't have to have it all figured out. We don't have to be perfect. That's good!
Now look at what it does say. We are to serve. We are to set a godly example. We are to live what we say we believe. And when we mess up, cause we're going to mess up, we show what it looks like to confess and ask for forgiveness. In other words, we model what it looks like to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, as we love those around us.
I want to invite you to join us as we share additional thought about family discipleship. Over the next couple of weeks, I want to share some of the resources that are helping me think through what family discipleship looks like for our family and for the families I serve at the church. I want to share links to the messages presented by Matt, Adam, and others who have taken time to explore and teach family discipleship. And I want to share some of the stories, resources, and tools that Amy and I have used over the years.
But most of all, I want to encourage you, parent to parent, to consider joining with me on this journey. And, together, we'll explore and learn what it looks like to lead our homes by doing whatever you can whenever you can to your family become friends and followers of Jesus Christ.