Family discipleship is so important in the life of a Christian family. Parents, you are the primary disciple-makers of your children. If you are not already intentionally pointing your children to Christ often at home, I want to encourage you to start now. If raising tiny disciples sounds like a big job, that’s because it is. Guiding your children to choose to follow Christ is the most important thing you will ever do for them. But let me tell you this: There is no one more perfectly suited for the job of discipling your children than you are. Not your children’s ministry at church. Not your child’s Sunday School teacher. You. God made you their parent and that was no mistake. He has equipped you and will sustain you as you train them in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). You can do this – not on your own – but with the help and guidance of your Heavenly Father, who has already set you up for success.
I know what you’re thinking: “Please don’t tell me I need to be doing more. Our schedule is already jam-packed as it is and I can’t take on one more thing.” I know. I know your family is busy. But the beauty of family discipleship and devotional time is that it can be woven into the routines of life your family has already established. It comes down to being intentional with your time. Family discipleship doesn’t have to be fancy or time-consuming, but it does need to be purposeful and consistent. I know discipling your kids sounds overwhelming, but friends, you can’t afford not to be your child’s spiritual leader. We, as Christians, have been given a commission to “go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt. 28:19). This discipleship mission has to start in your own home.
These are a few ideas on how to implement family discipleship and devotional time into activities that you are probably already doing with your kids. It might take a little creativity, but I think you will find discipling your children truly can become a natural part of your routine.
Utilize your time in the car together.
Everyone is always on the go – especially families with children. Why not use your time getting from Point A to Point B to disciple your kids and help them grow in their faith? You can listen to worship music or audio versions of Scripture passages together. Or, you can turn off the radio and have conversations about what they are learning from God lately. Take advantage of the 10 minute drive to baseball practice or dance class. Spend time discipling your little ones in the pick-up line at their siblings’ school. Talk about what you see in God’s creation as you drive around town. You can make the most of this time you are already spending together. Car rides are one of the most perfect places to have spiritual conversations with your children, because no one can get up and walk away!
Turn bath time into Bible time!
Most kids, especially preschoolers, love playing in the bath. Well, guess what?! There are so many Bible stories that have to do with water in one way or another. The next time your child is in the bath, tell them how Jesus’ washed his friends’ feet as you wash theirs. See if they can make the water in the tub split in half as you tell them about Moses and the Red Sea. Talk about baptism and what it means to publicly proclaim your commitment to the Lord. The possibilities are endless!
Add a devotional time to your bedtime routine.
Establishing a solid bedtime routine is such a great way to help your kids get to sleep. Consider adding a little bit of discipleship time before bed. You could read a Bible story or go over a verse you’re trying to memorize as a family. My husband and I ask our 3-year-old daughter the same question every night before we tuck her in: “What do you want to thank God for today?” Sometimes we get silly answers, but other times it is an opportunity to really get a look into how the Holy Spirit is speaking to her heart. Ending your day by asking questions and praying together can bring forth some of the sweetest, most Christ-filled moments.
Be intentional with your meal-time conversations.
When everyone is seated at the table, it can provide an opportunity to have some deep and lasting conversations with your kids. You can bless the meal together and model what thankfulness looks like. You might remind your children that just as God provides for your physical needs, He also provided the salvation from our sins that we so desperately need. You could even find a family devotional book you read through together as you enjoy your meal. It can be easy to talk about whatever happens to cross our minds at mealtime, but do your best to direct some of the conversation to be focused on what it means to follow Jesus.
Adopt a Bible Buddy.
Give your kids some responsibility in their faith journey by adopting a new friend. Take your children to pick out a stuffed animal (or grab an old favorite), and explain to them that this friend will now be their “Bible Buddy.” They get to adopt their new friend on one condition: they promise to read their Bible to them every day. You could even go all out with an adoption ceremony! Doing something like this can help motivate kids to read their Bibles and remind their parents to engage in family discipleship time. For children who are too young to read, the parents or older siblings could read while the child listens with their buddy. I’m fairly certain your kids are already playing with toys and stuffed animals, so why not have one that has a deeper purpose behind it?
Make regular church attendance a part of your family’s routine.
The Bible tells us that Christians are meant to live in fellowship with other believers. We are not to give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25). This is true for your kids, as well. Regularly connecting with friends in a church environment can help them to discover more about who God is and who they are in Him. They might see another child accepting Christ or getting baptized and wonder what those steps look like for them. When going to church is a normal part of your family’s routine, your kids will consistently be seeing others grow in their faith. They will also see you, their parent, model life-long learning and spiritual growth for yourself. Participating in corporate worship together allows the Holy Spirit to move. Because of regular church attendance, you will be able to have conversations with your kids that you wouldn’t have just at home.
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Take advantage of resources that are already available to you.
I have good news for you: You don’t have to come up with everything yourself! There are so many resources out there to help you disciple your children. There are all kinds of family devotionals, discussion starters, and Christian life books out there. Your church’s children’s ministry leaders and staff can help you get started with discipleship at home. You don’t have to do this alone.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” This verse encompasses the heart behind family discipleship. You can sprinkle in discipleship moments for your children anywhere.
I hope this might have given you some fresh, new ideas on what discipleship can look like for your family. I also hope you feel encouraged to do the job the Lord has given you. Remember to give yourself grace as you parent and disciple your children. There will be days when you miss the mark. That’s okay. Don’t give up and try again. Every family is different, so not all of these ideas will work for your family. You don’t have to do everything, but you do need to do something to disciple your children. As your family grows closer to the Lord together, I think you will find He brings you closer to one another, as well.
What would you add to this list? Do you have any methods of family discipleship that work really well for your family? I would love to hear about how God is working in your family’s life!