The saying is true that if parents don’t influence their children, then the culture will. It is more true that if Christian parents don’t intentionally disciple their children, the culture will. We live in an age where there are almost an infinite number of ways for children to be influenced by the culture. It is almost impossible for parents to completely keep the culture from influencing their children in some way. Whether it be through television, entertainment, social media, video games, movies, shows, or smart phone apps children are bombarded on a daily basis. Yet, the point of Christian discipleship is not to shelter children from the culture, but to teach them how to engage the culture with the hope of the gospel (see Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17). In order to disciple the next generation it will take being intentional and consistent in the home and in the local church. This is what pastors Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin discuss in their new book Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments, and Milestones (Crossway, 2020).
In the book they lay out a biblical model for family discipleship. I found it helpful that they use the term “family discipleship” broadly. While it is certainly true that discipleship begins in, and is primarily achieved in, the home it is also true that Christian parents depend on the help of their local family of believers to help in the discipleship process. Chandler and Griffin would both agree that Christian discipleship is both caught and taught, which is why they discuss a three mode model of family discipleship through: time, moments, and milestones.
The first mode of family discipleship is making time for intentional discipleship. they define this as “creating intentional time built into the rhythm of the family’s life for the purpose of thinking about, talking about, and living out the gospel” (pg. 87). In order for the truths of God’s Word to be transmitted to the next generation, a family must set aside a regular time to read, discuss, and apply scripture in the home. While they do not espouse a rigid boring time of intense Bible study, they do argue that family discipleship time must be consistent and intentional. If done irregularly and inconsistently the truths of Scripture may not make their way into the life of family in any significant way.
The second mode of family discipleship is taking advantage of discipleship moments. They define discipleship moments as “capturing and leveraging opportunities in the course of everyday life for the purpose of gospel-centered conversations” (pg. 113). Whereas a family must plan for specific and consistent discipleship time, discipleship moments are unplanned and spontaneous. Discipleship moments take advantage of what is going on in life of the family as teachable moments. This can include discipline for a certain behavior, having a conversation about a current event, or working through an issue at school. Discipleship moments happen every day. Though they may be unplanned, they are just as important in the life of the family.
The third mode of family discipleship is marking discipleship milestones. They define discipleship milestones as ” Marking and making occasions to celebrate and commemorate significant spiritual milestones of God’s work in the life of the family and child” (pg. 135). These discipleship opportunities are fewer and farther between than discipleship time and moments, yet they are just as crucial. They allow the family to look back and see how God has worked in the life of the family. These milestones include: baptisms, graduations, first communions, deaths in the family, weddings, and births, etc. Milestones are a great opportunity for the family to worship the Lord together and celebrate His goodness.
Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin is an excellent resource to guide a family through discipleship in the home. It highly recommend this resource to all families who are serious about implementing a model of discipleship in the life of the family. The authors make it clear that it is the primary responsibility of Christian parents to disciple the next generation. While parents must rely on the help of local church in discipleship, it is not something that can be outsourced to professionals alone. Families must take advantage of time, moments, and milestones in the life of the family to ensure that the trust of Scripture are rooted deep.