5 Ways to Intentionally Disciple Your Children
Being a parent comes with a long list of responsibilities. Getting your kids registered in the right school, teaching them responsibility, giving them three meals a day, driving them to endless sports games, the list goes on and on. However, the biggest challenge of being a parent is shepherding your child’s heart into a relationship with God. After all, God has called you to be the primary disciple maker in your child’s life. Not the Children’s Pastor, but you!
Now, I don’t claim to know everything about raising children to follow Christ. After all, I don’t have kids myself. But since God has called me to be a Children’s Pastor, I feel that the Lord has given me some wisdom and insight to reaching families in the Name of Jesus. Here are five ways I have found parents can intentionally disciple their children and encourage them to have lifelong relationship with Christ.
1) The most obvious and also one of the most important—prayer.
As Christians, we say this all the time. We have to spend time with God in prayer. I feel like a broken record at times because I’m always telling the kids how important this part of their life is to their relationship with God. As a parent, it’s so important that you lift up your child in prayer every single day. I’m not talking about a quick prayer at night before you go to bed. I’m talking about fervently praying for your child that God will guide their every step. Pray that your child will have a desire to know God better, boldness in sharing their faith, a sensitivity to the Spirit working in their life, and even for their future spouse. It’s never too early to pray that God will lead them into a God-honoring relationship with the right person. But don’t just pray for your child, but also pray for yourself as you parent your children. After all, you can’t do it alone and you need wisdom from the Lord.
2) Have an ongoing conversation with your kids about God.
You shouldn’t only talk about God on your way to church and the ride home. Keep God a part of your everyday conversations with your kids. As it says in Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV), “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.” I send out a weekly email to parents that describes what their kids learned on Sunday and different conversation starters to have with their kids on what they learned. The fact is that your kids will forget most of what they learned on Sunday if you don’t follow-up with them. Children learn best through repetition, so continue to talk to your kids about what they’re learning at church. A growing relationship with Christ starts at home.
3) Regularly attend church and get involved.
I know you probably think I’m a little biased in this area because I’m a Pastor, but this really is true. Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Church is a place where we can meet friends that will encourage us to walk with the Lord, provide a God-centered place for community, and surround your children with volunteers who so faithfully teach your kids about our Lord and Savior. When you put other things ahead of church, you are saying that church isn’t all that important. It’s just something you do when you have extra time. Combine your influence with the influence of the church and we can work together to raise up a generation for Christ. On top of that, your kids should see mom and dad serving in the church. Get plugged in somewhere and use the gifts God has given you. Your kids will see your service to God and they’ll even be proud of how you’re serving. I’ve heard several kids bragging about how their dad teaches the High School students Sunday School class, their mom leading a missions trip, etc. They do notice your dedication and they’re excited to tell others. Lastly, I even suggest getting your kids to serve with you. When a missions opportunity comes up, sign your family up and get involved. Teaching your children how to serve at an early age is always healthy.
4) Spend time in the Word of God.
Okay, this is another one that may be obvious, but it’s also not easy. We get so busy in the craziness of life that this sometimes gets pushed to the backburner. However, a love for Jesus starts with the right relationship with Him. Of course, it’s vitally important to spend time reading through the Word of God as a family. But in order to be able to pour into the lives of your kids, you must be filled with the Word of God yourself. That means spending one-on-one time with Him daily. As the Lord fills you and speaks to you, you will be better equipped to lead your family into a relationship with Jesus.
5) Eat dinner together regularly.
When you eat dinner around the table as a family, it creates a time for great conversations and brings everyone closer together. It doesn’t even have to be a home cooked meal every time; it could be something as simple as getting take-out and bringing it home. The point is to be together and develop deeper relationships with your kids. The Family Dinner Project did some research on this subject and found that many families who sit around the dinner table together have kids with higher academic performances, higher self-esteem, lower risk of depression, and lower risk of substance abuse, just to name a few. There will be days when you’re not all together for dinner for various reasons. That’s understandable; it’s just life. But don’t allow it to become a daily occurrence. Make eating together a priority.
These are just a few suggestions and I’m sure you can think of a few more. What I want you to do is think about how you can be proactive in bringing up your children to have a love for Jesus. I believe that this upcoming generation has the potential to bring about great change in this country and all over the world. However, they need some guidance and direction now when they’re young. Kids need their parents to step-up and take control of their spiritual development. Don’t put it off—start today!
For His Glory,