Family Planning For The Gospel
I want to supplement a blog that I wrote back in October 2009 called, “Everyday Suggestions For Making Disciples At Home and Beyond.” Link to “Everday Suggestions” In “Everyday Suggestions” I gave a list of ways for sharing the gospel and making disciples, especially at home, but what I want to add is the intentional routine by which Lacey and I are taking the primary responsibility of living and speaking the gospel to our boys.
Every Christian parent needs to understand that their home is the front line for spreading the gospel and making disciples of Jesus. Everyone and everything else, including church, is supplemental. But in order to fulfill their privilege and duty of making disciples, Christian parents have to be intentional and they have to be consistent. After all, no one plans to fail but a lot of people fail to plan and end up failing miserably.
I would welcome suggestions and examples that might help myself and others, but here is our battle plan. What is yours?
- We try to begin our day with some sort of family Bible reading at the breakfast table. The important thing is that we are modeling that God’s word is important enough to read it before we start our day. This time usually from Psalms or Proverbs.
- We pray before every meal. This is a challenge because our little guys don’t stay still very long, but we try to get them to pray or stay still to let us pray and give thanks in the name of Jesus.
- We almost always have a more in-depth Bible time before the boys go to bed at night. Right now we are reading the creation account in Genesis and I have to admit that sometimes this Bible time is a little sporadic, but there needs to be a systematic reading of God’s word. This will help establish the discipline of our boys systematically reading the Bible when they are old enough. By the way, one of the most rewarding parts of being consistent is when your three-year-old asks, “We having Bible time tonight?” Be consistent, even when it is hard and it will pay off.
- We have started reading Christian Biography. This is a recent development, but Luke and I just finished a biography about Hudson Taylor, the missionary to China in the Nineteenth Century. Children like stories, so read to them about Christian’s who lived for Jesus who were not in the Bible.
- We always pray for our boys before we turn off the light. We always pray for physical and spiritual protection from the evil one, but we also pray that our sons would trust and treasure Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. We pray the gospel almost every night.
- We try to be intentional in asking questions about God. Luke and I had a fascinating conversation in the car the other day about the perseverance of the saints. Luke can hang with me – most of the time and he asks some of the best questions. I probably learn as much as he does.
- Lacey creates traditions. For example, we do an Advent Calendar every Christmas. Starting on December 1 we read a little bit about the birth of Jesus every night and then pray. The boys anticipate it and love it.
- We effort to model the life of Jesus. No one is perfect so one of the ways we model following Christ is by asking for forgiveness a lot, both from God and each other. Authenticity and integrity are crucial and in teaching children, more is often caught than is taught. Children are watching and they can spot hypocrisy instinctively. We must live what we teach and we must teach what we live, but it doesn’t matter what we say if you don’t model it with our lives.
These things are working for us and are a work in progress in our home. Here are a couple of other things to think about.
- We didn’t formulate this plan and implement it all in one day or week. The things I have mentioned above are things that have developed from trial and error over the years. We have learned these things from reading, asking questions of seasoned parents, observing, failing, etc.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t expect too much in one day, but lay down a foundation a little at a time. Start somewhere and start simple, but make sure you make Jesus the object of your plan through the word of God.
- Warning: If you are young parents or have young children, the longer you wait the harder it will be. Start early, even when your child is an infant. If you got started late, stick with it and make it a priority.
- Finally, make it a priority by being intentional and being consistent. Nothing will hinder discipleship more than being sporadic. You must be consistent, you must be disciplined and diligent and thoughtful.
Don’t waste your family by not having a plan. May God give us all strength and wisdom and stamina to be faithful with the gift of children and family for the sake of Jesus and the glory of God.