Family Discipleship is Teaching and Passing Your Core Values to Your Children

Read about our Family Discipleship Parenting Wins and Fails.

And Learn 6 Ways you can Incorporate Family Discipleship into your Everyday Life to Raise your Children to Follow Jesus.

Parenting Win

Have you ever had a complete stranger approach you and ask if you are <insert your child’s name> mom?

If so, you probably freaked out a little bit inside, right?

Cause whatever is coming next can’t be good?

Five or six years ago a young married couple that I hadn’t met approached me during our church’s fellowship hour. They wanted to know if I was Oliver’s mom.

Hmmm.. what did he do? I somewhat reluctantly responded, yes, I was. They said that Oliver had really left an impression upon them at VBS last summer.

Oh SNAP!

Then I was really worried because VBS was five months earlier! I couldn’t imagine what he’d done that they not only still remembered, but needed to tell me about it after that much time had passed!

So apparently they’d come to VBS to pick up their preschooler and while they were waiting, they noticed that Oliver had gone over to the broom closet and gotten a broom, unprompted by an adult, and swept the floor.

So they asked Oliver why he was sweeping and he told them that he didn’t have anything else to do and it needed to be done.

Now, I really wasn’t surprised by this information; he has been obsessed with sweeping, vacuuming and mopping since he was old enough to hold a broom. (I know, it’s a bit unusual!)

But he also likes to help and would rather be doing somethinganything! other than aimlessly hanging around listening to grown-ups chat.

This couple, however, were amazed that a nine year-old had that kind of a servant’s heart. And since they were young parents, they wanted to know what my husband and I had done to help develop such a strong work ethic and helpful attitude.

Hmm…I was a bit too shocked to even know what to tell them. I didn’t really think that we’d done anything exceptional. But my kids have gotten older, we’ve had many people comment on their maturity and willingness to help others.

Now, please know that I’m not being judge-y or snobby. We definitely haven’t done everything right (read our about our parenting fail below), but SO FAR, our kids have shown exceptional responsibility and kindness.

Bible verse on door post
During a kitchen remodel, one of our daughters decided to write this Bible verse (literally) on the doorpost between our kitchen and sunroom for a future generation to see during the next remodel.

Parenting fail

I’m sure you’ve heard these sayings:

Practice what you preach!

Actions speak louder than words!

Why don’t you take your own advice?

My husband and I have learned the hard way that a parent needs to make sure that our children see what’s inside our hearts as well as our actions and outward appearances.

Looking back, I can see things that we did wrong and some that we did right. And a really big one that I wish we’d figured out much earlier.

When our oldest was entering high school we started attending a different church. The new church was the same denomination but was focused on relationships instead of traditions. We were very, very involved in our church life at the old church, but we didn’t talk about our faith at home, except to say a prayer before meals. Looking back, I think we thought that all of the “church” things we did was sufficient. We were also afraid that we didn’t “know enough” so we left that to the church “professionals.”

I remember a speaker saying, “Your teen’s faith is a true reflection of your own.” Well, if that’s not convicting, I don’t know what is.

In our family, it turned out that our oldest daughter’s faith was a reflection of our outward appearance during her childhood, but because we’d never talked openly about our faith and relationship with Jesus, she didn’t have a relationship with Jesus to grow roots in her faith.

Now, we didn’t know this until she was partway through college, because in high school, she said and did all the “right” things. We weren’t even really that worried about her being influenced by the secular views of her professors since we thought that her strong (outward) convictions would help her to stay on course.

We were very very wrong.

She went to college and was immersed in a culture that was in complete opposition to everything she’d been taught by us. It caught her right during her rebellious stage and she fell into the evil one’s snare. She’s all grown up now, has chosen to renounce her faith, and is living a lifestyle that breaks our hearts.

So, we clearly don’t have all the answers to how to raise your children to be disciples. But we have learned to talk to our kids daily about what we believe and why we believe it. We pray daily for her to return to her family and faith.

Bible verse on door post

6 Ways to Incorporate Family Discipleship into Your Daily Life

1. Read the Bible

Every day. Together and separately. You must be in The Word daily.

I resisted daily reading of the Bible for many years. But once I did, my life changed because my thinking changed.

Every morning as we eat breakfast, we listen to a chapter of the Bible on our Bible app. We’ve been doing this since my littlest ones were only 2, 3, and 4 years old. And yes, we listen to the regular ESV Bible, not a children’s version. After we finished listening, each child tells something they heard.

When they were only 2, I only expected them to be able to repeat a word that they’d heard, like “donkey” or “Moses.” Now that they are older, at 5, 6, and 7, the youngest (with a language delay) can usually tell me 2 words or phrases, and the oldest can repeat bigger chunks of the story. After everyone has shared what they heard, we talk about the story and sometimes look up related items or a song that the older ones remember that goes with that chapter or Bible story.

2. Eat Dinner Together

family discipleship

We’ve made eating dinner together at least 4 or 5 nights a week a priority for our family for the last 20 years. We don’t allow the TV to be on or to have any electronic devices at the table either. I know that may sound harsh to some, but the whole point is to talk to each other and you can’t do that with distractions.

We talk about our days, what things we are looking forward to, what’s going on in the world (at a kid-appropriate level), and what things we need to do in the next day or two.

For child-appropriate current events, check out these two {FREE} resources: Student News Daily and World Watch. We also discuss the “why” behind current events and connect it to history or other events with which they are familiar.

With SIX kids, this means that we don’t do a bunch of different sports with travel most weekends and practices every weeknight. In fact, we found that 4-H worked best for us as a family. Each kid could explore their own interests with different projects, but the main meetings and fairs were all together.

3. Make Sure Your Content Matches Your Worldview

Make sure that the images and music and videos and social media that they are consuming are worthy and good. Think about it; companies and marketers call us “consumers” because we are consuming their content, just like we consume food. If you only eat crappy junk food, you are not going to feel very healthy. Likewise, if you only consume content with worldly and evil plot lines or lyrics, you won’t be properly feeding your spirit.

Now, the really hard part is that you have to stop watching unwholesome content too. I know, it’s really difficult to change. I’ve been there. But once I did, I’ve noticed a big difference in how I feel if I give in and watch or listen to a regular sitcom or Eighties music after the kids are in bed. It’s almost like a cloud of depression descends on me. So, try it and see if it makes you feel better, too.

Music

K-Love Radio and Spirit FM often will have a challenge to listen only to contemporary Christian music for 30 days to see how it changes your mind and attitude. Check it out and see if it doesn’t.

Movies & TV

Our family has handled the challenge of movies with two strategies.

First, we’ve used a filtering service like ClearPlay or VidAngel to filter out undesirable content. (Our family has personally used ClearPlay for years and most movies you don’t even notice where it’s been edited. However, if you try to edit out all of the violence from a movie like The Patriot, you will certainly notice large gaps.)

Secondly, we watch all movies and shows together. This means that no one has any electronic devices in their rooms. It also means I can’t park the kids in front of the TV while I get chores done.

Yes, it’s inconvenient. Also, yes, it’s do-able and worth it. This helps to teach our kids that everyone’s time is valuable and all the work has to be done before we relax. So, if they want to watch something, it’s to their advantage to help get the work done quickly.

To learn more about using movies as curriculum check out these suggestions. There are also four very extensive lists of vetted movies for your middle and high schoolers.

Phones & Computers

One of my friends is the Child Advocate for the state. This means that she knows about the horrifying things that are done to children everyday. In an effort to combat the evil perpetrated upon children, she teaches a class called Flip the Switch: Darkness to Light. It’s for parents to learn the signs of grooming that predators use (on both parents and children). We took it and it was a shocking eye-opener for us because we’ve lived a very middle-class “wonder-bread” life.

Please, please, consider going through this {FREE} class that she’s made available!!

It could very well save you and your children untold heartache and abuse! It will also help you to understand why it’s in your children’s best interest for electronics to only be used in the main living areas of your home. This FREE class is targeted to coaches, but it’s the exact same class as for parents. Just click the “Start Training” button.

4. Christian Worldview Books and Curriculum

In the same way that movies, music, and social media influence our thinking, the curriculum that we choose to use to educate our kids matters too. Find a curriculum that matches what you believe. It’s equally important for kids (starting around age 11) to know the “why” behind what you believe (i.e. apologetics) and also what other religions believe.

I was thinking the other day how much Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writings (both her books as a child and her other writing as a young adult) influenced me and who I am now. So, if what we read has that much influence on our inner being, shouldn’t we make sure that what our kids are reading is wholesome and good?

If we let our kids read hundreds of books that focus on things like witchcraft or dystopian societies that kill for sport or where suicide is endorsed, those themes become a part of our children’s hearts. Let’s make sure that most of their reading material is written from the same value system as our own.

5. Learn to Work Without Reward

Begin with simple chores at home to help your child see the benefit of blessing others. We started by having our kids help around the house as soon as they were able to walk and talk.

Two and three year-olds love to play in water, so we gave them a squirt bottle of plain water and a rag so they could “clean” their toys, the front of the fridge, or anything water-proof. Children that age want to do the same thing their parents are doing (cleaning) and if you make it fun, they will learn to enjoy helping.

As they grew, we increased their responsibilities, giving them household duties, pets, and then farm animals for which to care.

We’ve taught them that being a part of a family means working together and then after the work is done, playing together. There’s a certain amount of work that must be done in order to maintain a household and everyone is expected to do their share (we’d like for it to be with a happy heart and no grumbling, but that doesn’t always happen).

family working together

6. Volunteer to develop a servant’s heart.

At the same time, we started to teach them to have a thankful, grateful heart. We believe that a person needs to be able to appreciate what others have done for them. And we should aware of the blessings in our lives. This will help us to freely and lovingly give back time, resources, or talents to others.

Thankfulness is a choice and there’s always something for which to be thankful.

So, if you want your child to have a generous, kind spirit of helpfulness towards others, then you need to work alongside your child.

Not only will you be setting a good example, but you’ll also be making memories with your children.

As the high school level, we’ve encouraged our kids to develop their leadership skills in different ways. Mentor younger teens. Organize small community events (an hour program of music at a local nursing home. Chalking sidewalks with encouraging messages. Or handing out cookies & hot chocolate at Christmastime).

You can learn more about the leadership skills we’ve encouraged in our teens in this post.


This post is in partnership with Before the Wrath movie and Minno. This giveaway is possible because of the generosity of our sponsors; Lifeschooling Conference, Minno, Before the Wrath movie, Heart and Soul Homeschooling, The Frugal Grandmom, They Call Me Blessed, Clarissa R. West, Peace Creek on the Prairie, Beyond the Stick Figure, Sound Foundations Homeschool, Whole Child Homeschool, Homegrown Motherhood, and Fun With A Message.

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family discipleship

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