It has been nearly four months since closure of places of worship. With the end of cessation of movement orders by the governemnt and reopening of places of worship albeit partially, concerns have emerged about the fate and state of teenagers, children etc. There has been reports of increased teenage pregnancies and some of the solution offered is to reopen schools. Maybe there is a truth that children are safer at school than idle. But the challenge that presents itself is are we saying our homes are a risk to our children? That we need them more at school than at home?
How should we respond to this period of spending lots of time with our chidlren at home? You might look back and say maybe I have wasted four months but this could also be a good time to plan for spending the next period of time. We don’t know how long we’ll be with our children and when schools will reopen. I will challenge us not to waste our stay at home season
Discipleship Extended To Homes
The local church provides an environment for conducting discipleship. A church community is made up of Christians from different household who meet regularly to grow together in God’s word, encourage each other, as well as challenge one another in pursuing godliness. Jesus’ command to go and make disciples of all nations is well embraced in churches but less experienced in our families. Family members are on the forefront discipling children, women or youths at church but they forsake the same at homes. Family discipleship should be an ongoing discipline at homes such that the goal of making godly disciples is attained as Christ intended. Imagine doing discipleship at home? The work of the church becomes easier.
Practically, children and family members spend more time at home than at church. In a typical church setting, members might meet twice a week at best for Bible study and Sunday service. Yet they will spend the rest of their time with family members. For children, they’ll see their dad or mum who is a Chrisitian say and act in certain ways. And they will copy them. When they come to church, they spend at most 2 hours of primarily teachings and not life experience. The real life experience happens at home. It is therefore better for families to be trained and do discipleship at home.
Who should take Discipleship Leadership?
I know you already know the answer to this question. It should be men and rightly so. Men should take lead on this one in a family setting. But we must also clarify that this does not mean nominalism on the side of the mother. There are quite a lot of scriptures to refer to man and leadership but let’s look at Paul’s instructions for christian household in
Eph 5:23-25. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
The exhortation of husbands here is to demonstrate love and provide godly leadership to his family as Christ has one with the church. He should sacrificially love the wife by providing leadership in all aspects of life; emotional, physical and spiritual need. One of significant tasks the husband can ever achieve is helping his family grow into Christ likeness. This legacy far outweighs any material inheritance that he can leave for his children.
In cases of single parents, one can then say in absence of a father or mother, the mother/father takes to the role of discipling the family and children. Any family member should witness the parents believing and living the Christian life and seek to emulate it. And in the case where one parent is not there, maybe Christian single parents should be encouraged to have the presence of the opposite gender who is a believer present in the family life to help with that role for the growth of the children.
In ancient Isreal Moses gave the ten commandents and used the parenting relationship as the channel through which the knowledge and word of God would be transmitted to other generatons.
“And these words I command you today shall be in your hearts. 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.”
Demonstrating real faith by living out the Word should be our priority, this can be a great influence to our children and with time they grow to emulate us.
There could be several family relationships in the Bible but one that has always baffled me is Timothy’s relationships with mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois). Their faith lived in Timothy and he is commended to Paul in Acts 16:1-2,
“Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived,… The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.”
They must have labored to teach Timothy God’s word for him to come to faith. Paul states clearly in 2 Tim 3:15 that scriptures are able to make one wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. True wisdom for salvation lies in faith which is a spiritual knowledge of Christ. The best age to influence children is between ages 4-14 years. At this formative age, parents have a big influence. Beyond that, there are many things and people influencing children. If convictions are formed early enough, then the foundation is set.
4 Ways to Practice Family Discipleship
- Scheduled family Discipleship Meetings. Maybe we underestimate this factor a lot. Yet it is the primary way that discipleship happen in church setting. People meet over coffee of tea or a sleepover. Here is a case where a family is always together. We should use this period to disciple.
- Scripture Memorization: I still remember some of the scriptures I memorized when I was young. Including the songs we sang at Sunday school. Why? It was a formative period. We could use this same principle to imprint God’s word in our children’s mind and it will live with them for a long time. One of the famous quote of Chuck Swindoll on the value of memorizing the Bible goes
“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and more effective. Your counseling will be in demand. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.”
We not only want to teach our family to have the knowledge about scriptures but also challenge each other to memorize scriptures.
- Moving from Belief to Practice (Doing Life together): One of the comments about personal holiness is that the best gift a pastor can give to his congregant is personal holiness. Living life in a family setting goes a long way in family discipleship. Part of the societal challenges that we are having are because it has been made a norm for people to be corrupt, steal public funds, become greedy, sleep around, disrespect and mistreat people who work for them. These things are observed by children and it is passed on to the next generation. We ought to move from belief to practice. How we live matters.
- Family Prayers
We cannot neglect the discipline of prayer in substitute of the Word. In C.H Spurgeon quote on praying and reading the Bible he depicts how these two disciplines are important.
“When asked, what is more important: Praying or reading the bible? I ask, what is more important: Breathing in or breathing out.”
Prayer is a common word to every christian lips but fairly exercised by many. Our families rarely have scheduled prayer meetings, occasionally the practise is done during meals, once a family member is ill or during occasions. Prayerlessness goes hand in hand with lack of christian integrity. Often we make excuses for our fainthearted prayerless life and subsequent guilt makes us withdraw from praying. Christ can be our role model in this, often Jesus would make time for prayers, he would withdraw from the twelve to go and pray. Mark 2:35, 6:46. Other times he would go with some to pray, Mark 9:2, Mat 26:36. From this we see both corporate and individual prayers are vital.
It’s a great privilege to be a parent and it comes with much responsibility. Its always easy to give up on discipleship especially if we don’t see transformation sooner as we expect it. It calls for love and patience to actually give our best to our families trusting that God is working in their hearts. Let’s not fall captive of inclining ourselves to hearing the word of God only to Sunday service for this is subjecting believer’s faith to spiritual- retardation. May God’s Word be foremost in our hearts as we set out to disciple. May we treasure it more than pure gold, cherish it more than the sweet honey for by it we shall live.
Article written by Lucy Kiarie. Lucy is a 2nd year apprentice at iServe Africa serving in TransformD Discipleship programme. She loves working with young high school leavers.