A few years ago, I got to participate in a really cool project with several of my classmates: we wrote a book. We waited until very recently for it to finally hit publication, and for that I (and the rest of us) are indebted to Timothy Jones and John David Trentham, two men I am very glad to call colleagues and friends. The book is called Practical Family Ministry, and it's designed to be a tool for us to give to churches and families to help them make disciples of the next generation.
One line jumps out to remind us of how central this is to the heart of God: "God wants our children in His Kingdom more than we do." As much as Carrie and I want Sam & Gray to grow up to love Jesus and follow after Him, God's desire for their salvation is much greater than ours. And that's radical and incredible to think about.
Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6 point out how central the home is to making disciples. In fact, it's been God's design from Genesis 1-2 that the home is the foundational place for not only raising children but also to see them discipled towards spiritual maturity. Martin Luther even called the home the "laboratory for character." So what does it look like for a family to recognize their central role in seeing the Kingdom grow through their home? I think that's where Practical Family Ministry can be an incredibly helpful resource.
Two chapters that I would commend to any parent are the chapters on family devotions and using family meal time as a setting for discipleship. We live such busy lives and fail to often spend significant time together as a family. But when we as parents make it a priority to eat meals together, we are able to hear about our days and to build into our children a biblical worldview. And when we make it a point to do family devotions (as simple as reading a Bible story, singing a song, and praying; or as complex as working through a catechism) we are putting together building blocks to produce a mature Christian.
I wrote the chapter on missions, and let me end this by pleading with parents to not waste these incredibly formative years on simply getting through life and surviving each day. Make it a priority moms and dads to serve together as a family. Contact a local ministry or mission and take some time to serve there as a family. See your family as a chance to bless others in your neighborhood and around the world (sponsor a child through Compassion, write cards to people going through pain, and make friendships with your kids' teammates and their family so you can share Jesus with them).
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.