This column was first published on The Stand, AFA’s blogsite (afa.net/the-stand).
June 2017 – Different people and groups are rightfully involved in Christian discipleship. But when it comes to children, one group should lead.
Some believe each Christian has the primary duty to participate in discipleship. Others believe the institutional Church has the primary role. While both the individual Christian and the whole church play roles in discipling others, the parents should be the major player.
There is plenty in the New Testament to give us a clear picture of what a Christ follower looks like. In Luke 14:27 Jesus says, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Here Christ is referring to the level of commitment required to become His disciple. He associates discipleship with the Roman symbol of death.
In John 8:31-32, the Apostle writes “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Here we can clearly see that in order to be a disciple, you have to first believe in Christ as the son of God and second, abide in His word. To simplify things, if you are a born again believer, then you are a disciple.
John Piper explained discipleship by saying, “Every Christian should be helping unbelievers become believers by showing them Christ, that is, making a disciple. And every Christian should be helping other believers grow to more and more maturity. That is making a disciple.” This process that Pastor Piper explains is discipleship.
It seems that most believers in America assume the main component of discipleship occurs on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Thus we stress the importance of attending a local church service and being involved in the activities of that church. This is a good priority, but should it be our main source of discipleship?
I would suggest that the family as created in Genesis is the main player in discipleship; especially when it concerns our children. It seems as though parents have downplayed their responsibility to disciple their own children, choosing instead to believe that simply providing physical and emotional assistance is all God requires of them. Please know that when I make statements such as this, I am not making broad accusations. I am simply saying that in general, it seems as though we have drifted in this direction.
Scripture mentions on a number of occasions the role of parents in the spiritual development of their children. Ephesians 6:1-4 says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
The first part is clear for children – obey your parents. The latter regarding fathers not provoking their children to anger suggests that if fathers are consistent, fair, and biblical in teaching their children, the children are much more likely to receive discipline and instruction – and less likely to rebel.
Viewing parenting with this perspective in mind will allow the church and fellow believers to come alongside our families and build upon the foundation that is preexisting in each Christian family’s home. If parents begin to view their authority over their children from a stewardship perspective, then we will begin raising children with eternity in mind.
▶ AFA Cultural Institute John Rosemond Parenting DVDs afastore.net
▶ Onemilliondads.com An AFA online community of Christian fathers