I am very encouraged the upcoming Anglican family Gathering at Christ Church, Plano, Texas this coming October, written about here at AnglicanPastor by David Roseberry. We need a revival of family discipleship that begins in the home.
Parenting is an amazing responsibility. I will never forget February 25, 2004. It was the day our first daughter was born. It was the day that I became a parent. It was a very emotional day. After a long day of labor, my wife ended up having to have a c-section. In the end, we had a beautiful 9 pound baby girl!
Shortly after she was born, I found myself alone in a dimly lit hospital room holding her. She was crying and I was crying too, probably for different reasons. As tears rolled down my face, I was overwhelmed with the emotion of being a new father and holding my tiny baby girl for the first time ever. I can still remember being overcome with a sense of holy responsibility. I was holding a little human that God had created and entrusted to my wife and I for safe keeping.
As I write this, my daughter will be eleven years old in a few days. As I reflect back on that night, my sense of godly responsibility for her is still the same today as it was the day she was first born. The only difference is that she is a lot older now and I can barely pick her up!
Having children is one of life’s most wonderful privileges that carries with it an amazing responsibility to shape the hearts and lives of our children. In fact, I can’t think of any greater responsibility than being entrusted with a human life. We have been made stewards of the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of our children.
As parents, we also have a spiritual responsibility for our children. The call to “make disciples” begins in our homes first. It is our spiritual responsibility as parents to teach our children about the faith. The Bible tells parents “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). As Christian parents, we should desire for our children to have a firm foundation and grow up to love Jesus and know what the Bible says about their lives.
Parents and Discipleship
Many parents believe that it is the church’s responsibility to raise their children in the faith. Too often, people think that the church is more like a baby-sitting service to watch our kids for a few hours a week. Nothing could be further from the truth. While church is important, the Bible tells us that the home is the primary place of learning the Bible and giving moral instruction. The church is meant to support parents in discipling their children.
Raising Children in the Faith
The Bible tells us that the home is the primary place to learn the Bible and receive moral instruction. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9, we read:
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.
This passage offers us a paradigm for raising our children in the faith and being a family of deep-rooted faith.
It Begins with Us
First, it is important for parents to understand that discipleship begins with us and in us. The “words that I command you today shall be on your heart” is a message for parents. Family discipleship is not something we do for the kids, but it is for parents as well. In family discipleship parents and children alike are shaped into disciples of Jesus Christ. I would like to encourage you to let your hearts be transformed by the same truths as your children.
It Happens Daily
Secondly, we are reminded that faith is not just something that we do once a week, but something that should be incorporated into the daily routines of the home. We should, “teach them diligently…. talk to them when you sit in the house.” This means we should have a regular time to teach our faith to our children. In life, we schedule what is most important to us. If you don’t plan a time to talk to your children about their faith, it will most likely not happen.
We should find moments to talk about our faith throughout the day with our families. How do we spend our time? Watching Television, playing video games, or shopping? Sadly, many families devote more time to these things than they do teaching their children about God, or just simply spending quality time together. There are teachable moments to share our faith with our children throughout each day. The problem is we are too busy to take advantage of them. Choose a time that works best for you- dinner, bedtime, breakfast.
It Must Be Lived Out
Thirdly, faith is not meant to be confined to the home, but lived in our daily lives and in our communities. We learn as we go through life. Home is where faith learning begins, but the real world is where it is lived. Take time to stop and teach your children faith lessons in the car or the grocery store. Christianity isn’t just about knowing God, but living for Him. Children want a real faith that they connect to and live out. Make opportunities to serve in the local community and to share your faith together as a family.
Photo by Kamau Akabueze via https://www.flickr.com/photos/kzaflicks/4873866291
Dr. Winfield is the Director of Church Planting at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He also directs Asbury’s Anglican Formation program. As a seasoned practitioner, he has helped plant several churches and has used his experience to train leaders from around the world. He is the author of several books including his forthcoming book Ever Ancient Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation (Zondervan, 2018). As an author, one of his passions is the intersection of spiritual formation and mission. He and his wife Kay, have three school aged children and live in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky.