My children were older when I was convicted about the need to personally teach Scripture to them and involve them in ministry. Jen was nine years old and Ryan was five. Although I regret not having started when they were born, I am thankful that we began making disciples of them when we did.
Like our family, sometimes parents of older children get the “wake up call” about the need to disciple their children but don’t know where to start. Be encouraged that Jesus made disciples of adults; in some ways these adults were more difficult to train than an older child. Follow Jesus and He will show you the way!
Although Jesus showed us how to make disciples and we should follow His approach, there are some unique challenges with starting to disciple an older child. If we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus we will find the help that we need. Here is our top ten list of getting started with older children:
10. Repent and ask for forgiveness for not making disciples of your children. Repent to the Lord, and ask for forgiveness from your family, especially your children. Cultivate a habit of asking your children and your spouse to forgive you as you identify other areas of your life that are not aligned with scripture. This will reduce your family’s perception of hypocrisy in your life.
9. Ask the Lord to help you disciple your children. No matter what method we use to make disciples, without the Lord’s help our efforts are futile. Parents need the moment-by-moment help of the Lord. Keep praying! But take comfort in the fact that following Jesus’ way will give you a huge advantage.
8. Develop a plan with your spouse on how you will disciple your children. You may have heard the saying “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Set aside some uninterrupted time to develop a discipleship plan for your family. Read this article and then you can use this Self-Assessment to help you.
7. Immediately begin to read scripture as a family daily. Read through entire books of the Bible. Be persistent and consistent! As the Holy Spirit leads you, comment on and ask questions about what you have read. As you establish yourself as the spiritual leader, allow your children to read and teach, to pick spiritual songs for the family and to pray. Take turns reading scripture, picking songs, praying for others and praying for one another.
6. Dramatically increase the amount of time you are spending with your children. Decrease the time your children are spending with unbelievers and ungodly influences which include people and media. This may require significant lifestyle changes such as moving, changing jobs, downsizing, turning off the television, or changing who is teaching your children.
5. Engage your children with interactive projects, conversations and games. Do things together such as going to the park, playing board games, cooking hot dogs and smores, etc. Begin a silly story and let each family member take a turn adding to the story. Play catch, ping pong, kick ball and basketball. Also spend one-on-one time interacting with each child. Get to know their heart. Engaging in interactive activities will help you develop better relationships, and will create great memories.
4. Begin ministering to others together as a family. Identify people groups and ministries that you and your family members are passionate about helping. James 1:27 says that “pure religion” provides help to widows and orphans. You could help the homeless, prisoners or the elderly. You could take a meal to a sick neighbor and pray for them. Be “salt and light” WITH your children like Jesus was with His disciples.
3. Use the “Deuteronomy 6” principle for teaching like Jesus did.Jesus taught His disciples throughout the day: when they sat in a house, when they walked by the way, when they laid down at night and when they arose in the mornings. Like Jesus, find ways to keep scripture alive in your family through music, discussions, testimonies, audio recordings, and carefully selected videos. Also teach them about the traps and lies that are propagated by the culture.
2. Be careful not to exasperate your children. Never discipline them in anger; always make sure you are completely calm and controlled prior to having a discussion or administering discipline. Always point out that obedience to parents is a commandment that comes with a promise for them; “a long life and that it may go well with them.” Your loving correction is coming from a desire that they will have long, blessed lives. Be quick to ask for forgiveness for your own failures, which could be a reason for their sin…. ask for forgiveness again and again and again. This can help reduce rebellion.
1. Set realistic expectations. As you begin to make disciples of your children you may find other parents who are intentionally teaching scripture to their children too. Some parents may have begun earlier than you and the fruit of their obedience may be reflected in children who are obedient, well-mannered, involved in ministry, etc. Don’t be discouraged and don’t set your expectations too high. You can begin training your children in these areas now. Be thankful that the Lord called you and simply be obedient.
It may take years before you see the fruit of your labors. The Lord knows what He is doing with your children, and you are a big part of His plan! No matter when you begin to disciple your children, the Lord will bless you for your obedience. Read Deuteronomy 6 again and notice that this command is for parents and grandparents; making disciples of our children and grandchildren is for life!
Article from Disciple Like Jesus