The sun shines on the wet pavement. The smell of rain hangs in the air. I gingerly walk across the parking lot towards the church, trying not to step on the earthworms that have ventured up from the ground. It’s Sunday.
My commute to church is exactly 58 steps. We live in the blue house. Everyone knows the blue house; the “missionary house” turned parsonage. I love the blue house. It is a place for tea parties, Sunday morning college breakfasts, and weekly bible studies.
“Hello! Happy Sunday.” the greeter calls from the door of the church.
I smile as I enter, my hand outstretched to give and receive greetings. I quickly find my kids who’ve gone ahead of me. We settle in the third pew on the left. The service begins.
We sing songs about letting the spirit lead us where our trust is without borders. My husband preaches on discipleship.
My youngest son cuddles close. He needs encouragement. His repetitive ticks are increasing. Most people don’t notice. He’s very good at hiding.
I watch as my husband delivers the last point of his sermon. I think about all the people we’ve discipled at the blue house. The college students, the young couples, the small group leaders.
I lean forward slightly to look at my middle son. He’s been struggling with anxiety and depression. But he doesn’t let on. He’s a good kid. A leader in the youth group, active on the tech team. I know he’s dealing with deep questions of faith.
Suddenly a thought hits me, “What if we’re discipling everyone better than our own children.”
The service ends. My kids and I walk across the now dry, worm free parking lot towards the blue house. I find myself making a mental list. How can we be intentional about discipling our children? I’d like to share my list with you. Some of them we already had in place but others are new. All of them are working. We know because we’ve seen some amazing growth in our boys. Here are 5 ways we are intentional about discipling our own children.
If you are a single parent or feel like a single parent this is still possible.You can do this as you tuck your kids in at night. We often meet in the living room at nine p.m. but sometimes we sprawl across our bed upstairs. One of the kids reads a passage of scripture and then we talk about it. I suggest starting with Proverbs and only reading a couple of verses at a time. It’s true there are nights this is a total bust and all we get is crickets. But perseverance has paid off. Our kids now look forward to our time and we often have great spiritual conversations.
The Bible talks a lot about working as unto the Lord and rising early to put in a good day of work. Yeah, just try dragging a 17 year old and an 11 year old out of bed on a Saturday to rake leaves. I know. It’s rough. Don’t give up. The benefit of years of teaching our kids to work hard is paying off. My husband and seventeen year old have started a summer business washing residential windows. They are busy almost every day and people often comment on our son’s hard work and positive attitude. The best thing about this business is not the money or even the work; but the chance for our son to be mentored by his Dad. They are making memories and creating a bond that will last well beyond this summer.
Our boys go out on a weekly date with their dad. They lovingly refer to it as guy time. If you have girls or it’s mom who’s doing this activity you can label it what suits you best. Use this time to delve into a book together or just do something fun. Focusing on one child at a time gives you the opportunity to really hear their heart. Don’t worry so much about what you do together. Just be ready with some strong age appropriate questions. Here’s a few to get you started:
“Tell me the high and low of your day.”
In one word:
“How are you feeling about ….” (OKay and fine are not options)
In The Word:
“So what have you read in the Bible lately?”
Start by encouraging your kids to learn more than how to download the latest game. Learn how to use a movie making program or an easy graphic design program. Even sign-up for the word of the day from Bible Gateway so your child is exposed to The Word through technology. If you have a Mac there a program called Garage Band that can be used for mixing beats and creating music. Be intentional about this by finding a spiritual perspective in it. For example, our youngest is currently helping me lead a kids Summer Bible Study. He is in charge of scripture memorization ideas. He’s using paper folding to inspire our listeners and creating demo videos. You can find his videos over at Camping Stick Kids Blog. Together we are learning how to use the live FB feed. It’s been a real chance to bond over something that might otherwise be a dividing force in our home.
Stay-cations or day trips are a great way to spend intentional time together. Create discipleship moments by stopping at places that inspire faith or conversations about our country’s Godly heritage. Here are a few places we’ve enjoyed with our family:
The Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, IL
Valley Forge Museum in Valley Forge, PA:
Billy Graham speaks to the importance of discipling the next generation when he says,
“This museum will point us to the past so we can learn from those who have gone before. It will cause us to rejoice in the present to see what God is doing today. And it will challenge us for the future to know Christ and make Him known to the ends of the earth.”
Let’s start in our homes by pointing our kids to Christ and choosing to disciple them in their faith. Let’s pray they will become the men & women God desires them to be and thank God for the joy of participating in their growth.
Under the same wing,
Joleen has a heart for evangelism and discipleship. She believes all children should have the opportunity to know Christ, grow in their faith and go into the world to tell others the good news of Salvation.
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