I have heard it said by a parent, If my kids wait on me to disciple them, they are in trouble!, and I became very concerned. What’s more is that this parent was a minister of the Gospel. However, I am not pointing this one individual parent out for what was said. No, the fact of the matter is that many parents have said or lived out a lot worse! In this post I will pose the questions, Who is to disciple my children and How should I disciple my Children?
For this post we will look at the question of Who is to disciple my children?
For some reading this post you are already on edge because of the statement made by a minister or pastor of the Gospel. And some of you might have said the same thing simply because your schedule demands it and others “more qualified” than yourself should do the discipling. Let’s forget for the moment about the minister who made the statement and focus on the fact, that ALL parents need help in discipling their children. What type of help are we talking about? For this post assume there are two kinds of help, substitutionaland directional. (These two terms are not exhaustive of types of help. I am simply using the two in order to keep the discussion manageable.)
Let’s define the two:
Substitutional Help: means that there is a substitute accomplishing a task instead of a subject. Simply put, think of an elementary school teacher. When he/she needs to take time off, what happens? The school system supplies a substitute in order to accomplish the learning objectives of the teacher’s individual classroom. When talking about substitutional discipleship I am saying that parents take time off and appoint someone else to carry the responsibility.
Directional Help: means guiding an object to a specific destination or outcome. Simply put, when we want the family dog to obey we sign it up for obedience training. The trainer then assists the family in teaching the dog to sit, heel and follow directions.
With these definitions in mind, now we can answer the question of who will disciple my children?. There are some who have been trained by society and or church tradition to allow the so called experts to do the discipling. From our programs to curriculum we, as the church, have let go of the reins so to speak of the discipling process. We as parents have become used to the “drop-off” mentality! We drop off our kids at their perspective classrooms and gone to our grown up bible study and think nothing about it (substitutionary). We have confused the originality of the discipleship process. For some, asking the question, what did you learn tonight? has taken the place of real discipleship. Don’t get me wrong, it is a start when trying to begin a dialogue about spiritual things but that alone in no way takes the place of actually teaching your children to walk in the way of The Lord. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a proponent of parents discipling their children. So, where do we begin to understand the parents role in discipling their children.
The Bible: The Bible alone is the Word of God without error and useful for teaching and directing the lives of those who call themselves followers of God. In the Bible we see that There is One God, who commands us to Love Him with our entire being! And we are called to love others (Great Commandment) with a self-sacrificing servanthood as the example of Christ laying down His life so that we could walk with Him into eternity. The Bible also calls us to make disciples of all nations (Great Commission). Let’s look at the Great Commission:
And Jesus came and said to them,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
GO and make disciples! This term could be interpreted, as you go or wherever you go make disciples. But this concept of going wasn’t new to the disciples, no the concept of going throughout everyday life teaching others originates in the Old Testament. God commanded His chosen people to pass down the commands, the He gave them, to the next generation so they would not forget. Sadly, parents today have forgotten. The contemporary generation is more technologically advanced than any of its predecessors. With this technical age comes the ability to pass along the Word of God to the nations. However, in order to reach the nations we must be sending each generation out with the Gospel! If we forget to pass down (disciple) our own children who will be sent and what will their message be? World peace, loving the earth, social gospel, self religion, atheistic education, the list goes on and on.. The point is we as parents are to teach our children the Word of God, discipling them and teaching them to live by the Word sending them out with the one true Gospel. Are we raising up the next generation to fear the Lord or to be the next constructors of Babel?
Check this passage out: Deuteronomy 6:4-7
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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.
Parents! YOU shall teach them diligently to your children and as YOU go throughout your everyday life continue to teach your children. There is no way around this! God has laid out the plan for parents and children! Deuteronomy 11:18-20, repeats this same thought of teaching the next generation the things of God.
Now, I am a vocational minister by calling. I believe that God calls the pastor/minister to equip the church to do the works of God. The pastor/minister even leads programs so that discipleship happens, however the pastor should not be the main discipler of your children! WE the parents are to teach our children so that the pastor/minister can equip and build upon that which we have taught them. Side note: Your students should not hear about spiritual gifts or spiritual disciplines for the first time in a youth ministry! You should teach your children about the spiritual gifts by demonstrating them to your children. Pastor if you are pretending to preach by telling feel good stories instead of the Word of God your children and your congregation will never grow past the spiritual infancy stage. I have hammered this point into the ground but please hear this as an emphatic call. Parents, take up the banner of parenthood, realizing the gift and GREAT responsibility you have of leading your children in the way of the Lord.