Do you know what Family Discipleship is? Have you heard that term thrown around and are hoping for someone to give you a good definition?
Well here is it, the definition that you have been waiting for.
We know what family means. The dictionary defines family as
"A group consisting of one or more parents usually containing one or more children."
The question then with Family discipleship is not with the word family, but the word discipleship. What do you think of when you hear the word discipleship?
You were probably able to pulled out the root word; disciple. What is a disciple? If you are like me, you thought of Jesus’ twelve disciples. These men certainly were disciples and had a special relationship with Jesus to boot. But they were not the only disciples Jesus had. In fact he had many more.
Luke 14:25-27 broadens the discipleship conversation;
"25 Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple."
What is a Disciple?
By definition a disciple is;
A person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; a follower:
By this definition and historically, Jesus’ followers are not the only ones to bear the title of disciple. Anyone who identifies themselves as a student of a certain teacher, would be considered that teacher’s disciple. Which actually became a problem for the early church in 1 Corinthians 3 (We’ll address this below)
Jesus quickly gathered a large following. He had many who followed him before he died. Many of those followers witnessed his resurrection and ascension. And after Jesus rose from the dead, the number of his disciples grew exponentially. Now he has millions of followers all around the globe, and each one who follows the true teaching of Christ bears the title of Jesus’ disciple.
Discipleship is then defined by the church as;
The making or training of disciples of Jesus
As Matthew 28:18-20 says;
"18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
What is Family Discipleship?
Discipleship within the family could be defined as;
The act of training and teaching your your family (spouse and children) to follow Jesus.
Making disciples within your family.
If we believe the gospel to be true, them Family Discipleship must become our greatest endeavor. We we believe that without the gospel our children will be lost, then we should make it our daily work to share the gospel with them. If God is honored when His people worship him, then our greatest joy should be to lead our families to worship.
The question should never be, “should we disciple our families?” The question is only “how should we disciple our families?”.
5 Important Ingredients to Family Discipleship
1) Dynamic Personal Faith: You will not pass on vibrant faith if your faith is lacking. Work on your own faith while teaching your family to love God. Family discipleship should be a passing on of the faith that you are ready possess.
2) Prayer: 1 Samuel 12:23 says;
Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.
Family shepherds should be praying for those in their care. Our main request of God should be on behalf of our family faith.
3) Singular Focus: There are so many voices to listen to right now that it is easy to lose course. The Corinthian Church did. They began to argue with each other which of the teachers who taught the gospel was worthy to be followed. They essentially were debating who the best preacher was. As 1 Corinthians 3:3 details;
3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?
Paul answers them simply by saying. It is not about who has taught you the gospel, only that in the gospel you belong to Christ! (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)
"21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours,22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
So we as leaders in our home need to learn from this. There are many voices that teach us in life, but what really matters is that we belong to Christ."
4) Family Togetherness: You will have very little influence with you family if you are not there and if they perceive that you do not care. As parents, make choices to be together as often as you can. Make dinner together a priority, and plan family outing often. Fathers, when you are home focus on your family. Mothers, make you husband and children your priority and don’t allow your children to get overly busy. This is much more important than any of us realize. The more time we give our family to other things and other people, the more influence we give away.
5) Family Worship Time: Plan, prioritize and protect a specific time for family worship. My family has chosen dinner time because we are all sitting together at the table almost every night. Your family might find that there is a better time, but what is important is that we set the time aside.
These family worship times will look different in every home. The main point is to make sure that God is being proclaimed to your children, and that they are learning what it means to respond in worship. The graph below is a short list of normal elements that you could find in family worship. Families can mix and match these elements into a God honoring time of Family worship. (Not an exhaustive list)