Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Ps. 127.1)
Too often, busy parents abdicate responsibility for their children’s spiritual formation, dropping them off at the youth group, and hoping for the best. This is simply not a good idea. Research reported in the Christian Education Journal shows that most young people active in their youth groups drop out of church in their twenties. Apparently they’re not being spiritually fed or being meaningfully discipled in their church or youth groups. This is a strong reminder to parents that the home is where children primarily need to be nurtured. How do we as parents disciple children well?
Disciple children with a clear goal in mind. Prioritize God, and help children lay a strong spiritual foundation. Don’t just leave it up to the youth pastor — he or she can’t do it all. The goal for parents (with dads taking the lead) is to proclaim the gospel to your children to help them set their hope in Christ. Identify each child’s gifts, ask God for a vision of who He wants them to be, then build them up accordingly.
Help children internalize the Gospel. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 shows how the gospel can be internalized: with diligence and consistency. The parable of the sower teaches the importance of parents planting seed in good soil (Matt. 13:23 ff.). God’s Words have transforming, fruit-bearing power, so invest in Scripture internalization and memorization. Help children teach others the gospel out of a heart in which the gospel itself has been deeply internalized.
Set examples. Modeling gospel truth is a key way of discipling. Model servant leadership, Bible reading, and seeking God’s character in your life. Children need to see Scripture come to life — let them see how wives submit to their husbands and how husbands love their wives per Eph. 5:22-25; let them see forgiveness modeled (Matt. 5:23-24).
Find good mentors. Research shows that young adults will stay in the church if they have 2-5 godly people (other than their parents) investing in their lives. In an abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14). Children need quality relationships with good mentors.
Make time. Don’t get caught up in the rat race. Our lives are far too busy than is good for us or our children. Get priorities straight and schedule a family night once a week in what’s best: investing meaningfully in family relationships and discipling.
Carry out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Help children internalize and live out the Great Commission in their world and beyond. Help them see needs and show compassion locally, in their communities and internationally.
Discipline with love. To use J.D. Greear’s words from his study guide on discipling children (see our book review here), discipline entails disentangling your children’s hearts from sin (Heb 12:1). Let your kids know you are fighting for them, not with them (See Eph 6:4; Col 3:21). Focus on the beauty & majesty of Jesus, and what He accomplished on the Cross. Help kids see that Jesus is more worthy of their lives than anything else. Replace the lies they believe with the truth of the gospel. Show them God’s way is best.
Release for God’s Purposes. Pray for wisdom, and pray for your children. Pray for their hearts each day, and listen to God about your family. Godly success is found in faithful obedience to God (not having many degrees, a large bank account, a job title, or having kids that are sport stars). Don’t try and keep and control your children — release them to the great adventure of following God for His purposes!
Does this sound like a daunting task?
Village Schools of the Bible can come alongside parents and help. The Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey course can equip you to disciple your children. Encourage your young adult children to take the course, or take it together with them. Here’s one parent’s testimony:
My eldest daughter Sydney and I took Cover-to-Cover together. It was a wonderful shared experience. The credits that Sydney has earned through Village Schools will help her complete her Bible minor at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul. This is a wonderful blessing — but the true and eternal blessing is the spiritual growth we gained in studying the Word of God together. I am currently taking Cover-to-Cover with my second daughter, Alexandra, and I cannot begin to put a value on the knowledge shared and heart-changing effect of studying God’s Word through Village Schools. — Sonja Lindgren
Also, young adults need the time and space to think through their faith in order to own it for themselves. To help young adults ask searching questions pertaining to their Christian world view (including questions asked by radical atheists), Village Schools is hosting an apologetics speech competition on October 29, 2016. With God’s grace, they may grow to defend their faith winsomely, with confidence and deep conviction.
To find out more:
Click here for more about the apologetics speech competition.
To learn more about the Cover-to-Cover Bible survey course:
Click here for the online option.
Click here for the classroom option.
- Greear, J.D. & V. Ready to Launch: Jesus-centered parenting in a child-centered world. LifeWay, 2014.
- Powell K. et al. High School Youth Group Seniors Transitioning to College: Risk Behavior, Social Support, Religiosity, and Attitude Toward Youth Group. Christian Education Journal.