Most parents dream about their children’s future. They envision a happy marriage, a successful career, and a comfortable life. As followers of Christ, our dreams are bigger, higher, and fuller than even these good things. We long to see our children walking in a “sincere faith” (2 Tim. 1:5), “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1), and “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). But often we aren’t sure how to help them get there.
How can we help our children not only understand the Gospel but become lifelong followers of Christ? The answer is not in any program or activity, but in a lifestyle of following Christ as a family. Here are five characteristics of that kind of family:
How can we help our children not only understand the Gospel but become lifelong followers of Christ?
1. CONNECTION (EPH. 6:4).
Discipleship is relational. If we are going to disciple our children, we must connect with them at a deep level. Make heart-level conversations an everyday occurrence in your family. Even disobedience is an opportunity to connect if we inquire about the heart behind the action.
2. CATECHISM (PSALM 78:4-6).
To catechize is to teach by word of mouth. This is what the Lord commanded His people to do whether they were getting up, lying down, or walking along the way. As you spend time together—whether at home or on the go—teach your children the narrative of the Bible. Practice memorizing Scripture that will work in their hearts and draw them to Christ. You may also find the children’s catechism, a collection of simple theological questions and answers, a helpful tool to build a foundation of basic Christian doctrines and beliefs.
3. CONVERSATION (DEUT. 6:4-9).
As you teach your children Biblical Truth, it will raise questions. Instead of seeing these questions as signs of unbelief, recognize them as faith-growing exercises. Turn to Scripture and dig into those questions together. Reading well-written literature together is also a great way to provoke questions about how the Truth of the Bible applies in the “real world.” And take time to pray together, modeling for your kids how to humbly go to God with things they don’t understand.
4. CULTURE (ROM. 12:1-2).
Peter called his spiritual children “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9). Families that follow Christ together will be different than the surrounding culture. We will have different priorities, practices, and principles. Embrace those differences and make them part of the family culture. Sunday is great place to start. Make Sunday more than just attending a service—make it an all-day event. Enjoy a sabbath rest together and see how it shapes the rest of your week.
5. CALLING (MARK 3:24).
What impact is your family called to make for Christ? Find a need that motivates you and seek to meet it together. Serve a local ministry. Go on a mission trip. Adopt a project. Invite a neighbor over for dinner. This is how Jesus taught His disciples. It was not in a classroom. It was not during scheduled devotionals. It was along the way as they ministered together. The same is true for our children.
As we build these characteristics into our family, a beautiful thing happens: The melody of faith begins to ring out from our children’s lives so that as “One generation commends your [the Lord’s] works to another; . . . They [the generations of God’s people] celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” (Ps. 145:4, 7). This is our job as parents. This is a future worth dreaming for our kids.