I have been collaborating with Brian Smith , a friend and ministry peer, about what a discipleship plan could look like for families. Here are a list of action steps for beginning a family discipleship plan. Have more ideas? leave a comment.
Step one: Make it a priority.
If you never commit to making family discipleship a priority it will never be done. Pastors across the U.S. say, if you want to know where a family’s priorities are, take a look at the checkbook. This may or may not apply to all but it is a good place to start. Next would be to look at your family’s calendar. Are you spending time doing “life” or are you actively seeking ways to connect to God.
How do you make family discipleship a priority? Sit down with your family, and explain that from this day forward, discipleship will become a priority. Make it clear to your children, that although you are not perfect, God has a perfect plan for your family. Give your family ownership. Allow each child to be “in-charge” of an aspect of your family discipleship time. For example, one child could keep a list of prayer concerns, another child could be in-charge of reminding everyone the memory verse of the week etc. Family Discipleship is about guiding your family through the Spiritual Disciplines and other practices to equip and build up. (Ephesians 4)
Step Two: Schedule Discipleship
We have all been to a church that sticks to the bulletin! And every Sunday looks, feels and sounds the exact same. It’s boring, right! Your family discipleship time doesn’t have to be this way.
When talking about scheduling discipleship time I am talking about two things. First, have a set family time to meet as a group to go through a particular passage or topic that God has placed on your heart as parents/parent. Second, Make sure you take time throughout the day to address the little things of life. (Psalm 119)
Step Three: Apply things learned
During your family time take mental, or physical, notes on what was said by your family. Then apply things said, in discipleship time, to your family’s daily activities. For example, if a child or spouse brings up some type of outreach to your neighbors, then you could actually plan ways to share the love of God in your neighborhood. Children are creative; allow them to come up with “events” or service projects around the neighborhood. The things we learn in the classroom will never stick unless we practice them on a daily basis. Remember dissecting a frog? Have you done it lately? Remember talking about the Gospel in Sunday school? Ever share the Gospel to your next door neighbor? (James 1:22-25)
Step Four: Encourage
Everyone sins. We all make mistakes. Your family will not be the perfect family at all times. Instead of constantly reminding your family of failures, encourage your family to learn from mistakes. Focus on success more than failures in discipleship. Learn from mistakes, but do not dwell on them. God has taken our sins and thrown them as far as the east is from the west, treat your family the same. (Psalm 103:11–12)
Step Five: Disciple another Family
Yeah. One of the best ways to practice what you preach is to actually do it! Whatever family you find, through prayer, make sure they know your family isn’t perfect and that you wish to grow with others. Discipleship is usually talked about in a one on one context but what if a family could disciple other families? What would the church look like if families came together and spurred one another on towards good works? (Hebrews 10:23-25)
Again, fellow student pastor Brian Smith and I have been discussing creating a Family Discipleship Plan. He has added an action step called “seize God sightings, making time for Spiritual Conversations”
when it comes to building family discipleship into family life.
Have some ideas for family discipleship? Post a comment, let’s keep the topic growing!