I received this email from a children’s pastor a few weeks ago and I’d been thinking about how to respond. Here is the email:
I was reading your post at Kidzmatter on Have You Ever Thought About a Discipleship Plan for Your Family?
That is a very good question you ask and it’s true… I don’t have one.
What would such a plan look like?
Could you give me some guideline on where I should start?
Thank you for your help.
Here was my response:
Thanks for reaching out and asking such an important and valuable question. The working answers to this should be readily available to any and all “pastors” or so it should seem 🙂
I wonder if the church has become interested in too many programs or trying to reach “more people” (which isn’t at all bad), and have lost the basics about what it’s supposed to be doing… which is “making disciples.” Making disciples should be the inherent goal, which will lead to more people. We have to be faithful with doing the basics of the gospel and trust that God will lead us to draw more and more people as He sees fit.
But I digress 🙂
Here is my family’s working discipleship plan:
Personal discipleship. I need to be growing in the LORD. I need to be so saturated in the WORD of God and in prayer and in community with other believers that I am believing the gospel and being challenged to live out such kingdom-centered through minute-by-minute repentance. Only if I have a deep well of faith and dependence on the Spirit do I have anything to offer my family (wife and children)… and, for that matter, shepherding God’s people as a pastor.
Marriage engagement. I’m assuming my spouse is growing in “personal discipleship” as well, so that means when the two of come together as a married couple, this is, what Paul refers to as, a profound mystery, but he’s talking about Christ and the church. Somehow and someway, my marriage (anyone’s marriage) is a living metaphor (or the physical manifestation of a spiritual reality) of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the church, which is his body. My wife and I get to engage in mutual edification, serving one another, sacrificing for one another, loving one another, laying down my self-centeredness for the sake of loving my spouse, etc. The maturing of our marriage relationship through conversation, dates, intimacy, events, milestones, traveling, parenting, peer relationships, mutual encouragement, etc challenges us both to grow deeper in relationship with Christ personally as well as the mystery of corporate, one flesh, Christ and the church dynamic.
Parenting children. We have two children… two daughters. Discipleship engagement with them looks like growing in my relationship with the LORD personally and corporately in my marriage so there is an environment where faith is modeled and caught, rather than merely just taught. Most “family ministry discipleship” plans seem to center around action things (the activity of doing) instead of the essence of the gospel (allowing the Spirit of God to shape an obedient and faithful human’s life). Hopefully, my two girls get to see two parents–their Mom and Dad–both personally and in the marriage what an engaged and lived out faith looks like. The activity of doing that follows the appropriately modeled environment are: one-on-one time with each child, telling stories from the Bible and wrestling through their implications, exposing them to the adult decisions and responsibilities of our lives (finances, chores, family involvement and such), praying with them, serving with them, helping them to see my wife and I’s priorities in life and guiding them in making priority-based decisions about activities and use of time, church involvement, encouraging and making room in our lives for time with other important adults in their lives who are mentoring them, etc.
This kind of idea makes the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 come to life, doesn’t it?
It allows for children to be discipled in a family environment while living normal, routine kind of lives, but with the transformative power of the gospel as dispensed through the Spirit of Christ operative through dependence on God, repentance for my own way of wanting my world to work for myself and the belief that God’s way as exemplified by Jesus is actually the way humanity was designed to work all along.
I haven’t received a response back yet…
Photo courtesy: Freeimages.com/Michael Mogensen