The family is the first institution ordained by God in Scripture. Before God ordained government, even before He ordained the Church, God ordained the family (Gen 2:24). Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies would be deceiving ourselves into thinking we are succeeding as disciple-makers because of how intentional we are with those in our small group, neighborhoods, and workplaces; meanwhile, we lack the same level of intentionality at home. As husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers, we cannot escape the priority of being intentional in our relationships within our own homes.
Before the Israelites cross over to the promised land, Moses reminds them of God’s commands and instructs them to “Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Too often, when we think about discipling in the home, we immediately go to the “sit in your house” part of this verse. We envision sitting around the dinner table with open Bibles, the kids are fully engaged, hanging on every word, as they drop profound insights with wisdom beyond their years. If you have young kids, you know it rarely plays out this way. That doesn’t mean we should give up on this part of discipling within our homes, these times are important. However, there are many more opportunities for discipling our families as we “walk along the road.”
Many people are surprised to hear that our family does not have a daily devotional time together. This does not mean we are not discussing God’s Word daily, far from it. We still have times where we open the Bible together, discuss it, and apply it to our lives, but that is not where most of the discipling happens in our family. My wife and I have found that the greatest impact comes when we are looking for teachable moments as we “walk along the road” with our children. It does require intentionality, but it is surprisingly simple.
Many families spend significant amount of time in the car, this is great because you have a captive audience. Capitalize on this time by asking good open-ended questions.
Rather than asking, “How was your day?”; to which you are likely to get the usual, “fine.” Try asking questions like, “What made you laugh or smile today? What made you frustrated today? How did you respond when you felt that way?”.
This can give insight into what’s really happening in their life and how they are responding to it so that you can better shepherd them to follow King Jesus and allow Him to change them in actions and attitudes that aren’t in line with His Word.
Another opportunity for intentionality is joining your kids in something they enjoy. I don’t love playing with Barbies and Legos, but my kids do. I’ll never forget working on a Star Wars Lego set with one of our sons when he asked, “Why did Aunt Sarah get cancer? Is God going to heal her?” I have to admit, I wasn’t prepared for that, but am grateful God provided that moment.
Nature also provides many opportunities for intentionality. Use a rainbow to have your kids tell the story of Noah’s ark. Then ask, “What does the rainbow represent? Does God always keep His promises? How are you seeing God’s faithfulness in your life?” We did this when our kids were very young and to this day when they see a rainbow they talk about the ark, God’s promises, and His faithfulness in their lives. On a hike we talked about Proverbs 3:5-6 and our need to trust God and not ourselves as His ways will always lead us to the right path. We’ve used times stargazing to talk about Abraham and cast vision for how God could use the to multiply disciples.
As a husband, I also have the responsibility to lead and disciple my wife. When asked about what has meant the most to her, she said it was the little things. Like asking, “What is God showing you in your quiet times?”, then just listening to connect relationally rather than to check up on or correct. Affirming her in the ways I see her following King Jesus. Encouraging and gently challenging her by asking, “What do you think is the next step God would have you take? What do you think your next step is with the woman you are discipling?”
Her final observation is perhaps the most significant piece of being intentional at home: modeling. She talked about how she and the kids see me actually practicing what I preach, joyfully living out the life of a disciple of King Jesus and being quick to confess and seek their forgiveness when I don’t demonstrate Christlike attitudes and behavior. It does not matter how good we are at asking great questions and listening if we are not modeling the life of a disciple.
Charlie Turner is Pastor of River Rock Bible Church in Georgetown, TX. This article was originally published as a blog by the Relational Discipleship Network