Team Up for Child Discipleship!
By Dixie Walker
That’s their job! If you’re like most parents, when it comes to your family’s relationship with the church you may think it’s their job to initiate the discipleship efforts for your family. After all, that’s what the staff is paid to do—serve the church membership, right?
As parents, we tend to outsource all other instruction-based curriculum and programming for our kids to other people or institutions— whether it be general education, football, ballet, piano, karate, voice lessons, soccer. You get my point. But when it comes to discipleship of our children, who is truly responsible?
In Ephesians 6:1-4 we read several directives given to both children and parents. To begin with, children are instructed to obey their parents. And then fathers are told specifically to bring up children in the training and instruction of the Lord. Since fathers are considered to be the head of the home, this mandate is made clear to them. However, the implication is for both mom and dad to be involved in this spiritual teaching time with their children. This is a well-defined passage from the New Testament.
Along with that, the Old Testament provides a strong mandate to parents in Deuteronomy 6:7 for passing along the Lord’s commands where it says: “Make sure your children learn them. Talk about them when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Speak about them when you go to bed. And speak about them when you get up.” So if this instruction was originally given to parents to fulfill, how did the church come into this mix?
For a number of years many parents have seen the church as the key player in providing Christian education to their kids. In fact there’s almost a type of competition that can be seen between children’s and student ministry programs from church-to-church across denominational lines. Seminary classrooms are filled with students who aspire to have the best, most dynamic kids or student ministry in the country! So there’s no wonder why parents would give over their own discipling endeavors to those they feel are “more qualified.” But maybe there could be a better balance to it all!
For families that are regularly involved in church ministries, it’s great to partner with the church in this endeavor. Joining forces in matters such as this will be sure to make a stronger venture for family members. It’s fine for parents to take the initiative in teaming up with their church to see what great things can happen in the spiritual life of their children.
How-to’s for Parents to Partner with Churches
- BECOME AWARE. Just as you stay alert to matters happening in your child’s classroom at school, do the same when it comes to church. Ask your children what their Bible study was about on your way home from church. If you have a way of knowing ahead of time what was listed in the curriculum plan, this conversation with your children could be enlightening. This time of talking may point out areas of improvement needed in the leadership or curriculum choices at your church. Take this matter of spiritual education to be of great importance!
- USE RESOURCES. Many curriculum lines now have a piece for use at home. This is normally sent home with younger children on Sunday mornings. Teens may have it in the form of a devotional booklet instead. Regardless, don’t just throw these items away—use them! Many times the information enclosed is great to either review last week’s Bible content or preview what is coming up for next week. If your child is old enough to read alone then encourage that, but remember to follow up with him about what he learned through the resource.
- SHARE IDEAS. If your child’s age group minister is not providing anything for use at home, then you should suggest it! Many times ministry leaders are so busy with planning and administering the regular church programming that they have not found time to think about ministry to families in the home setting. If you have an idea that works for your family, share it with the ministry leader at your church. The seed of thought you plant could perhaps become the start of something wonderful as a church wide emphasis.
Teaming up with age group ministers at your church can only help the spiritual education process with your family members. Your children will benefit greatly from the combined effort of these two strong influences in their spiritual development.
Dixie Walker has been in childhood ministry with families and teachers for the past 20 years. She and her family currently reside in the metro Atlanta area.
This article originally appeared in ParentLife Magazine (February 2017) ParentLife.