A few tips on how to disciple your own children …
If it is important to you at all that your children grow up to be authentic followers of Jesus Christ, then how do you think that will be accomplished?
How will your children hear the Gospel message and respond to it by surrendering their lives to Jesus?
How will your children be taught the Word of God so they can mature in Christ?
How will your children be equipped to be faithful and effective ambassadors for Christ?
You might be surprised at the number of Christian parents whose children are now teens, and these parents are “suddenly” facing real questions about the faith and behavior of their children. They “thought” their children were Christian, but now actual statements made by their own kids, along with their behavior, raise real doubts.
Yes, many parents blindly thought their children growing up to be a Christian would just “happen” without any specific role on their part. But it’s just the opposite that is true. When God gave you your child(ren), He also handed YOU the specific responsibility of forging from that life a mature, faithful ambassador of Jesus Christ.
The good news is that he didn’t leave it all up to you. The Holy Spirit is the one who does the transforming of lives and produces spiritual fruit, but as a parent, your role is the most critical human one when it comes to the spiritual formation of your children. So here are a few tips for how to disciple your own children …
First, to make disciples of your children you need to share the Gospel with them. Your children becoming “born again” doesn’t happen by osmosis. It doesn’t happen by them parroting what you say or do. It doesn’t happen by just taking them to church. It doesn’t happen just because they’re “active” in a youth group. It doesn’t happen just by them having Christian friends. It doesn’t happen just by sending them to a Christian school. Like every other human being on the planet, for your children to become authentic followers of Christ, they need to hear the Gospel message and respond to it by surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ.
You might be amazed at how many Christian parents miss that point. Or how many Christian parents who never make sure they clearly, concisely, comprehensively share the Gospel with their own children.
I’ve written before about how several parents have come to me and asked that I share the Gospel with their children. My usual response is to suggest to the parents that I equip them in how to share the Gospel so they can present God’s “message of reconciliation” to their own children. The last time I made that suggestion to parents, the couple flatly said no. They were not interested in being equipped, they wanted me to make the presentation to their children for them!
If it isn’t your responsibility to share the Gospel with your own children, whose responsibility is it? It’s yours, and if you don’t know how, it’s a simple thing to equip you so that you can effectively share the Good News of Jesus with your children.
Second, help your children to mature in Christ by teaching them from the Bible. Once you’ve led your children to Christ, it’s important to help them to grow up in Him. You are the greatest teaching influence in the lives of your children, and that includes spiritually. But to help your children grow in Christ, you’ll have to open your Bibles and teach from it. Your opinions cannot substitute for the Word of God. You need to build into your relationship with your children regular teaching from the Bible so that their faith can deepen and blossom.
Third, regularly pray with your children. Yes, you need to pray for your children, and you need to pray for yourself as the pastors of your children, but you also need to pray with your children. Communing with God by coming before Him in conversation (prayer) together will teach your children how to develop an intimate relationship with God that revolves around unceasing conversation with Him.
Fourth, model for your children every day what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This point is not in consecutive order, as you want to be an example of a faithful and obedient follower of Christ from your children’s births. That example will help them be more open to the Gospel message, and it will help them better understand how to live out what you teach them from the Bible. Your example, as imperfect as it will be, will help them to learn how to walk through life as a child of God in good times and in bad, in plenty and in scarcity, when challenged and when comfortable. Your faithfulness to God will help them interpret how to apply God’s Word to their own lives.
Fifth, equip your children to be ambassadors for Christ. Specifically teach your children how to share the Gospel so they will be able to share it with others in their lives. Few parents even consider equipping their children to be ambassadors for Christ, but that is what He calls each of us to be (2 Cor. 5:18-20). If you don’t equip them in how to share the Gospel, who will?
Sixth, help your children become fully connected with their “other family,” the family of God. The church will be a major influence and vital part of the lives of your children for their entire lives. Help them to understand how God has adopted them into His own family, and that they have their own important place within that family. Help your children to discover their spiritual gifts and find effective ways to put them to use within the body of Christ. And help your children benefit from the priceless fellowship, love, and nurture they can receive (and give) from their church family.
These are a few basic but important steps for parents to take in their “ministry of parenting.” Make it your single greatest assignment as a parent to lead your own children into a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ, and then commit yourselves to teach them how to grow up in Christ so that they can live as mature ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Doing this will be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever accomplish with your life.