A Youth Leader’s Word to Parents on Discipleship Part Two
Tuesday on the blog we discussed the what and the why of relational discipleship; today we will discuss the how.
How can parents disciple their children?
To be clear, there is no formula to cultivating children who walk with the Lord. Discipleship is a broad term. It is God who does the work in your child’s heart, not you (Philippians 1:6). Therefore, to help you grow in discipling your children, here are four E’s that break down the idea of discipleship into phases. These E’s are adapted from The Vine Project, a set of resources for shaping church wide culture around disciple making. The four E’s are as follows: engage, evangelize, establish, and equip.
Stage 1: Engage about Christ
Relational engaging is important because children will not care to listen until they know how much you care. For example, my mother engaged with me by asking questions, caring about my feelings, and actively listening. All of these years I have needed a listening ear more than I needed advice. Engaging is all about helping till the soil of your child’s heart to be ready when the seeds are planted.
In tilling the soil owwwf your child’s heart pray for the following:
Opportunities to share the gospel
Persevering through hard soil
Engaging their hearts with truth
Normalizing gospel conversations
Stage 2: Evangelize to Christ
This is the seed-planting step. It can be laborious and also frustrating to not see fruit in the way that you want to see. This stage is all about sharing the gospel of grace, reading the word, praying with and for your children, and watering the spiritual seed.
Pray for the following to be true of your child:
Master is Christ
Abides in the Word
Committed to the Body
Stage 3: Establish in Christ
This is when parents are cultivating, nurturing, and watering the sprouted seed to grow. Helping establish their relationship with Christ can look like teaching your children how to read the Bible, how to pray, how to spend time alone with the Lord, how to have Jesus as the Lord of your life, and how to live in Christian community.
In growing a mature disciple pray that they will be faithful:
Faithful – desire to please God
Available – God is a priority
Initiates – to God and others
Teachable – open to God and others
Hungry – for God and to be led
Stage 4: Equip for ministry
This stage is when you are fertilizing, pruning, and deeply cultivating the plant that is growing. Equipping disciples for a life in ministry is about teaching them to evangelize, establish, and equip others. This is when a disciple is learning to self-feed and is growing fruit. A disciple in stage four is seeking to know Christ deeper and make him known to others. The goal in parental discipleship is not to make converts but to equip children to go out into the world as multiplying disciples.
In equipping a multiplying disciple pray for the following fruit:
Faithfully follows Jesus as the Lord of their life
Receiving training in evangelism, establishing, and equipping
Understands the gospel of grace
Initiating evangelism and working to establish others
Teamed with others who are making disciples
Because there is no formula for discipleship and parenting, prayer is the best tool. Pray with and for your children. Pray for wisdom in knowing how to parent each child differently. Pray for yourself to know and understand the gospel of grace. Pray that the Lord would open up the eyes of your child’s heart to see him as their Lord and Savior. Pray for time to have family devotionals. Pray for time in the car to be a place where open, loving, and encouraging conversations happen. Pray for the opportunity to serve others in and outside your home as a family. Pray for your children to see their own sin and understand their need for a Savior. Pray that the Lord would use you in your weakness. Pray for the times when you fail as a parent to be able to show the gospel of grace to your children. Pray that the Lord would free you from the performance treadmill of life and parenting and that the Holy Spirit would grow your child’s heart for the Lord. Pray for your family to live for what is eternal – God, his word, and the souls of people.
As the hymn “O Zion, Haste” says, “Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious, give of thy wealth to speed them on their way, pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious, and all thou spendest Jesus will repay.”
Helpful Resources for parents:
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principals that can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp
Power of the Praying Parent by: Stormie Omartain
The One Year Praying Through the Bible for Your Kids by Nancy Guthrie