We live in a world of immediate results. Today, I can microwave a lasagna in only minutes. A few years ago, the Instant Pot and then the air fryer were all the rage. Why spend hours to lovingly braise a delicious pot roast when you can do it in thirty minutes? Shareholders want to see investment returns as quickly as possible. This world of instant gratification has had many effects. Many of them are very good. Businesses have become more and more catered to their clientele. Who doesn’t enjoy Amazon Prime 2-Day shipping?
In this edition of FUSION Family, there is an article titled “Help! Our Family Devotions Aren’t Working!” (As a side note, FUSION Family is the at home-devotional for parents with children at home from D6. You can get a copy at the church or by signing up for the at-home bundles.). Rachel Minter writes about the struggle many parents have with getting family worship going, what family devotionals might look like, and encouragement for parents who feel they are in the trenches but don’t see the battle lines moving. These parents want to see instant results from their hard work training their children, but it’s just not happening. I hope you’ll give it a read, but in the meantime, let me encourage you, parent.
First, know that discipleship is a role for all. In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Known as the Great Commission, this is a general call for all to explain to others what they know of the risen Savior. In Deuteronomy 6—this is where the D6 name and philosophy comes from—Moses tells the second generation of Israelites after the Exodus that they are to “impress [these commandments] 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.” Moses, inspired by God, gives the primary role of discipleship to parents. This means that because of our love and gratitude for Jesus, fueled by the grace of the Holy Spirit, parents should take the responsibility of carefully teaching their children to know and love God.
But this call isn’t easy. And it certainly doesn’t come with instant gratification. A book that has had a heavy influence on how I live today is A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson. The title is one that I quote often especially when talking to our students about their spiritual walk. Because of the immediate rewards of constant instant gratification, we are often unwilling to keep moving forward when we don’t see results. We want results! Now! But listen to what Peterson writes: “The hard work of sowing seed in what looks like perfectly empty earth has, as every farmer knows, a time of harvest.” A farmer doesn’t plant a seed and then see immediate results. The seeds sits in the ground, maybe for weeks, soaking up moisture before sprouting and showing signs of life.
Family discipleship is like this too. And just like moisture to the seed, “taking time every day to talk with our kids about Jesus is vital.” So let me encourage you, parent, what you are doing will come to harvest. When you struggle with those antsy children that you think are not paying any attention, they are soaking up Jesus, and God is faithful to make it grow. I’ve seen it in my children. When I think our children missed everything we’ve done one night, they go and surprise me the next by answering some question from the previous night. So, keep on going, and have a long obedience in the same direction. Commit to this important task even when it seems dull or mundane, or when you think that all hope is lost.
Now, maybe you are reading this thinking I can do this, but I don’t know where to start. What does family discipleship even look like you might ask. Let me give you some places to start and encouragement too.
First, start by reading the bible. There are lots of good resources out there for families with young children. One of my favorites is The Biggest Story Bible Storybook by Kevin DeYoung. There’s even curriculum that you can use to go along with it. Another great option and one that I think nearly every child is given at a young age is The Jesus Story Book Bible. For parents with children who read up to teens, you can use the D6 at home devotionals. The Scripture reading is aligned daily, and by having your child do it on their own you are training them to have their own personal quiet time.
Second, pray. Jesus modeled prayer for us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells us simply to “pray continually.” Use time each day to model praying for your children. Pray with them. Let them hear that you are praying for them.
If you feel able, spend time together worshipping in song. I am not musically gifted. John-David likes to tell people that I sing loud, but not well. Singing is something special. It is amazing how easily we can learn and memorize song lyrics. I was amazed when my children learned the names of the persons of the Trinity from singing the doxology acapella during family worship, and then even more amazed when my four-year-old knew the books of the bible in order from listening over and over to “Gotta Know the Books” by Shai Linne. If you can’t lead musically, then pick a song or two from Spotify or YouTube and just sing along as a family. Our family enjoys much of the music by Ellie Holcomb, who has written songs geared for young children about creation and remembering that God “sings songs of joy over you.”
Another thing that our family does is a weekly catechism. We use a curriculum that has 52 questions and answers about God. The questions range from "What is God?" (God is the creator of everyone and everything.) to "Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?" (Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God.). The answers I've shown you are in "children's mode, and more robust answers are more suitable for older kids and teens. These questions help teach our children what they should know about who God is and what he desires from us. Use these questions, one each week, and train your child up in the way he or she would go.
Don’t be afraid to start or to even start small. Once you start, don’t expect immediate results. Minter writes in her article, “Consistency in family devotions will enable you to have conversations with your kids that will lead them to Jesus’ feet.” Instant gratification isn’t a bad thing. I’m thankful that when I was a teacher with only thirty minutes to eat lunch, I could microwave a lasagna rather than eat a cold sandwich every day. But instead of focusing on good things, let’s lead our children to the greatest thing: Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world.
If you want more information about how to start and sustain family discipleship in your home, FBC-Midland has some resources available to you. You can get the at-home devotional by registering your family here. In the Welcome Center, the student ministry has placed two books that specifically address family worship. I’ve read both of them and highly recommend them. Family Discipleship is written by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin. Together they want to help you “develop a sustainable rhythm of gospel-centered discipleship focused in three key areas: time, moments, and milestones.” Also, a slightly shorter but still valuable read by Donald Whitney is titled Family Worship.