By Kate Ritchie
Many families have determined to lay a little low during these upcoming months. I've talked with friends about their family activities being postponed, and sports put off until later in the year. I know how disappointing this can be, but I want to encourage you to be committed to making the most of this season.
There's a temptation to either fight for "normal" or withdraw in disappointment. Still, Romans 8:28 reminds us that God can use every circumstance for his glory and our good. I believe God can use this time to strengthen your family and your faith.
Last blog I shared with you two approaches to family discipleship that, from personal experience, have derailed our family. This month I would like to share with you what has worked well for our family discipleship.
Here are five tips to strengthen family discipleship in your home:
1. Make family discipleship a lifestyle.
Discipleship happens in all the moments, conversations, and time teaching your children about God. It's leading your kids to Christ in a million different ways over a million other moments as you choose to prioritize Jesus over everything else, vying for time and energy. Family discipleship is not a timeslot on your calendar; it is a lifestyle. It doesn't always happen effortlessly without intentionality; instead, it should be prioritized and practiced.
2. Create family discipleship habits that are daily, weekly, and yearly.
Family habits are what kids remember when they become adults. Our habits tell our hearts what is essential and worthy of our affections. Decide which moments in the day, week, and year are dedicated to family discipleship. Consistency is key! What parts of the day best facilitate conversations about Jesus? (i.e., at meals, bath time, prayer before bed…) What weekly reoccurring times do we have to prioritize Jesus? (i.e., corporate worship, youth group, family bible time on Monday nights) What yearly events happen that can we celebrate Jesus together? (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter) If you want to pray on the way to school, make it a habit. If you're going to have a family conversation about God at the dinner table, make it a habit. If you want a weekly Bible study with your kids, make it a habit. Habits we are committed to helping us with consistency, and they end up being the things our kids remember when we are gone.
3. Be intentional in building a framework for your kids to view God, themselves, and the world around them.
We need to consider that family discipleship creates a framework for our children to view life. Biblical knowledge and reading the Bible are essential for building a biblical worldview. It gives kids a vocabulary to understand the world. It gives kids a sense of who they are, what value they have, and how to see life. Family discipleship helps create a vision of hope and value in our kids. Let me remind you that culture is already cultivating our kids' view of God, their self-perceptions, and their world. It is essential that we intentionally build a solid foundation for our kids to know what is true. You can start this now, no matter how your or old your children may be! One of my very favorite tools for this is The New City Catechism. The New City Catechism helps kids have categories for big ideas about God and themselves.
4. Family discipleship takes Christian community.
You do not have to figure out family discipleship on your own. There are some great tools for parents and families out there. Kids Faith Krate was founded for this very purpose. We know family discipleship can be overwhelming, and we want to help make it a little easier on you. We also encourage you to plug into a local church and invest in the children's ministry at your church. Learn the Bible alongside your children by volunteering in your local children's ministry. Ask your children's minister questions about family discipleship. Invest in your local church and find other people who are prioritizing family discipleship. Find older Christian parents who have raised their children to follow Jesus and ask them questions. Christianity is meant to happen in the context of community.
5. Take ownership of family discipleship.
After my third son's birth, I realized that to do family discipleship well, I would have to make it the most important task of my day. I was going to have to prioritize it. Saying "yes" to family discipleship sometimes meant saying "no" to other things. It has been messy, and sometimes I've failed, but it has always been worth it.
Have you taken ownership of discipleship in your home? Family discipleship is already happening in your home. We are always modeling for our kids what is important in life by what is consuming our family life. We are already modeling to our children what is true and real and good in life. May we always be leading them to Jesus! As Colossians 3:16-17 says,
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Which one of our tips does your family do well? Which one of these tips does your family need to grow in? Family discipleship is a journey. As you grow in your love for Jesus, we are praying that you see God's faithfulness in the life of your family.