For far too long, many church families have left the disciple-making work with children and youth entirely to the church. But just consider how unreasonable that is. When a children’s minister or student/youth minister has a child/teen for maybe two hours per week and parents have their children for many more hours per week, parents are far better positioned to make disciples of their children. So how can we help parents in our small groups to disciple their children and teens?
- Include children and teens in adult small groups. You might argue that parents need a break from their kids. That is a common issue with American church-goers. Many expect someone else to tend their children from the moment they walk into the church building or a small group meeting. But, if parents are the primary disciplers of their children, church time or small group time is not release time. Wise parents will use such times to be with their kids and model being a disciple for their kids. But what if the children or students don’t understand the adult discussion? Well, the truth is they will very likely understand most of the adult discussion. They benefit from listening to adult conversation. They also learn through observing adults doing Christian activities and having Christian discussion. Finally, following Jesus can be taught but most of following Jesus is really caught.
- Give parents good discussion questions to follow up on every age-group Bible study or any study that have children and teens in them. These kinds of questions could even be delivered as texts or tweets. Parents then can use them in family times or even in drive-times to lead discussions that focus on helping them make discip
- Give parents support to become disciple-makers at home. Let parents talk and encourage each other. Let them ask each other how they bend their kids’ hearts toward Jesus? Help them share ideas. Help them pray together for their kids. Lead your church to make parenting resources available to parents in all life stages. Have focused times of prayer for everyone’s kids. Pray for them by name.
- Help parents model disciple-making for each other. Try this: every time your small group meets, ask a different dad to get on the floor and lead a five-minute devotion with all the kids in the meeting. Soon dads (and moms) will discover that it is just not hard to lead a family devotion. You don’t have kids present in your adult small groups or Sunday School classes? Then plan a party that includes the whole family every month. Let different adults take turns with a family devotion for the whole group.
Parents can hold the keys to their kids’ hearts. They know their kids better than any children’s or youth minister could every know them. They love their kids more than any minister can love them. Parents may not have all the priorities right but they really want to see their kids walking after Jesus. Tap into that desire to help parents make disciples at home.
Scripture: Read Deuteronomy 4:10, 6:7, 11:19, Psalm 34:11, and 78:5. What do these verses teach us about the role of parents in the faith?
Dig Deeper: Read The Disciple-Making Parent by Chap Bettis.
Now It’s Your Turn: How is your small group, your Sunday School class, or your church equipping and encouraging parents to make disciples at home? Please share your ideas so we can all grow together.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”