Some believe each Christian has a duty to participate in discipleship. Others believe the institutional church has the primary role of responsibility concerning discipleship. While both the individual Christian and the whole church play roles in discipling, the family is also a major player.
There is plenty in the New Testament to give us a clear picture of what a Christ-follower looks like. In Luke 14:27 Jesus says “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Here Christ is referring to the level of commitment required to become His disciple. He associates discipleship with the Roman symbol of death. In John 8:31-32, the apostle writes “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Here we can clearly see that in order to be a disciple you have to first believe in Christ as the son of God and secondly, abide in His Word. To simplify things, if you are a born-again believer then you are a disciple.
John Piper explained discipleship by saying “Every Christian should be helping unbelievers become believers by showing them Christ; that is, making a disciple. And every Christian should be helping other believers grow to more and more maturity. That is making a disciple.” This process that Pastor Piper explains is discipleship.
It seems that most believers in America assume that the main form of discipleship occurs on Sunday morning and Wednesday night. Thus we stress the importance of attending a local church service and being involved in the activities of that church. This is a good priority, but should it be our main source of discipleship?
I would suggest that the family as created in Genesis is the main player in discipleship; especially when it concerns our children. It seems as though parents have downplayed their own responsibility to disciple their own children choosing instead to believe that simply providing physical and emotional assistance is all God requires of them. Please know that when I make statements such as this, I am not making broad accusations. I am simply saying that in general, it seems as though we have drifted in this direction.
Scripture mentions on countless occasions the role of parents in the spiritual development of their children. Ephesians 6:1-4 says “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The first part is clear for children, obey your parents. The latter regarding fathers not provoking their children to anger is referring to parents not leading their children into a sinful and frustrating life that does not honor God. Instead, parents are to train their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Viewing parenting with this perspective in mind will allow the church and fellow believers to come alongside our families and build upon the foundation that is preexisting in each Christian family’s home. If parents begin to view their authority over their children from a stewardship perspective, then we will begin raising children with eternity in mind.