In the past several months the essential and God-given role of parents in discipling their children has come to the forefront, either as a shining light of parental faithfulness or as a glaring omission of consistent parental involvement – or something in between.
Here is a good reminder from Dr. Timothy Paul Jones,
In some cases, parents seem to think that the church bears sole responsibility for their children’s spiritual formation—and, to be fair, that’s precisely the impression that church leaders have sometimes given to parents. Whether or not we intended to do so, we’ve focused so heavily on age-organized programs that it seems as if parents can simply plug their child into church programs from birth to high school graduation and the child will become a fully mature Christian adult. But that’s not what Scripture tells us. God’s Word makes it clear that parents have a necessary role in the discipleship of their children (Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 5:32-33; 6:1-4). In addition to this role, the church as the family of God has the responsibility to disciple spiritual orphans—children in the church whose parents are not believers.
In a world that organizes itself into groupings that are based on age and interest, it is radically counter-cultural to expect parents to disciple their children and church members to build relationships that transcend generational divisions. And yet, when we remain separated from one another, we can easily develop cultures where the lives of those who are younger and those who are older never intersect. But that’s not God’s design. God longs to turn the generations toward one another instead of away from one another (Malachi 4:6).
Discipleship at home is particularly crucial in this regard because what you do for God beyond your home will typically never be greater than what you practice with God within your home. The home, Martin Luther said, is a “school for character.” If we want the hearts of the generations to be turned toward one another at church, those habits must begin in the home. If we want people to make disciples of all nations, we must begin by training parents to disciple the children in their homes. If we want the people in our church to be evangelists, we must begin by training fathers and mothers to lead their own children to profess faith in Jesus Christ. If we want church members to handle conflict well within the church, we must teach them to deal with conflict effectively in their homes. If we want people to reach out to broken and hurting people outside the church, we must equip them to use their homes as contexts to care for spiritual orphans.
This excerpt is from the chapter "Parents, the Primary Disciplers of Their Children" in the book Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations. You can get a free PDF of this book if you sign up for the Joy for the Next Generations e-newsletter.