Raising Disciples: Seven Practices to Help Your Children Grow in Their Faith

The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. As Christian parents we have the privilege of not simply making disciples, but raising them. And that is both a joyous task and a heavy one. Simply “going to church” each week for one hour won’t cut it. Having your kids baptized and then never darkening the doors of a church, or speaking to them of Jesus again won’t cut it. Jesus didn’t just meet up with his disciples once a week for an hour. He lived with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for three years. At the end of His earthly mission Jesus gave his disciples a simple task. Having been made His disciples they were to go out and make more disciples. He gave them a simple set of instructions that we have come to know of as “The Great Commission.”

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20

The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. And as their mom and dad you have the privilege, joy and responsibility to lead them. This has to be intentional on your part. There are literally a million different things that vie for your family’s attention. There is homework, and soccer, and music lessons, and gymnastics, and family time, and free time, and commitments at work, and chores to be done. The noise, needs, activities all vie to become the center of your family’s life.

But as disciples ourselves, we are called to live with Jesus as the center of our lives. And this starts at home. Like the original twelve, discipleship isn’t just a one day a week for an hour commitment. Being a disciple of Jesus is a 24 hour a day, seven day a week gig. And our kids need to be able to see that and hear that from us through the noise and commotion of whatever else is happening at any given moment.

Below are a few ideas and practices meant to help you in your God-given task of raising the disciples with whom He has blessed you. If you have other ideas that have worked for you and your family please share them in the comments section below.

1. Worship Together Weekly – This sort of goes without saying, but God has built a rhythm into his creation. He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. When God gave the Israelites instructions about the Sabbath Day (the day of rest) he pointed back to creation. And so, from the very beginning followers of Jesus have gathered together at least once a week (sometimes many more) to share in the gifts that God was giving, to encourage one another, to receive the gifts of forgiveness that God was giving, and to praise Him.

2. Pray at Meal Times – Praying at meals is an excellent opportunity to thank God for how he continues to provide for our physical needs. Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for their “daily bread.” Doing this reminds us and our kids just Who it is that we rely on to provide for our needs.

3. Telling the Stories of God’s People – In our family we include this in our bed-time routine. After the kids have gotten into their PJs and their teeth have been brushed we sit down and read from a Bible story book (our kids are still very young), and we tell and re-tell how God has been at work in the lives of His people.

4. Emergency Vehicles – This was an idea I learned from one of my pastors growing up. Kids are naturally drawn to bright lights and loud noises (think fire trucks, police cars and ambulances). When they go by on the road and you pull to the side or slow down what an opportunity you have to teach your kids what it means to “pray without ceasing.” Use that momentary distraction to pray for those first responders, and to pray for the people whom they have been sent to help.

5. When They Make a Mistake – When they make a mistake, or they disobey you, or they hit one of their siblings or another child and you discipline them don’t waste an opportunity to teach them about forgiveness. Don’t just have them apologize for their mistake or say they’re sorry. Encourage them to ask the person that they have hurt or wronged for forgiveness. (And be sure to teach your children to forgive when they are asked for forgiveness from someone else) Especially when forgiveness is difficult remind them of how much God has forgiven them through Jesus’ death on the cross for them.

6. When You Make a Mistake – When you make a mistake as a parent in front of your kids (and who hasn’t) then you have a uniquely powerful opportunity. You have an incredible chance to show them that we are all sinful and need of forgiveness (even parents and other adults). We all make mistakes and it doesn’t matter how big you are, or how old you are; you are never too big or old to humble yourself and confess your sin and receive forgiveness from God and one another. See Failing My Kids the Right Way for more on this.

7. When You Are Playing Outdoors – As a child I loved exploring outside more than anything else. I loved discovering bugs, and building forts, and fishing, and hiking. I’d bet your kids probably love those things too. Explore nature with them, and as you do point out how amazingly intricate and awesome the world is that God has made.

I’m sure there are a million other practical ways that you can teach your kids about God throughout every moment of the days that God has given you together. God’s blessings as you raise His disciples!

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them 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.”   – Deuteronomy 6:5-9

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