I stirred up a pretty robust conversation when I addressed recently the importance of the faith community joining with parents and caregivers in the work of intentional discipleship.
“How?” was the most common question, which usually included an explanation along these lines:
“We are so busy (tired, full schedule) that we are barely home (awake, together) and when we are, we just want to rest (relax, watch TV) not try to have church (do a family devotion, have a faith talk).”
The conclusion usually sounds something like, “I know that’s not right, but I just don’t even know where to start.”
I feel that. I truly do.
Our family like many of yours also lives a busy life. Currently, all of us, from the youngest to the oldest are students in five different schools, doing activities ranging from musical to yearbook. Three of us are gainfully employed to boot.
Our calendar is a veritable rainbow of appointments, events and practices. And the thought of having to add something else to it, especially something as intentional as a family devotional time or a faith talk, can feel absolutely overwhelming.
It’s at this point though that it is tempting to say, “Forget it. The kids will just have to get the Jesus stuff at church.”
And that kind of thinking leads to a relinquishing of our unique responsibility to raise our children in the faith as well as a willingness to overlook the very real fact that parents and caregivers, not ministers, have the greatest influence on their child’s faith whether they are intentional about it or not.
May I offer a different perspective, another way of thinking?
Could it be that when the charge to “impress these things upon your children” was given in Deuteronomy 4, it wasn’t a just call to family devotions? That perhaps what God had in mind was a bit more involved than that?
What if instead of adding another thing to our calendar, we sought for ways to intentionally invite Christ into what we are already doing?
What if instead of saying, “There’s no time to do more,” we started saying, “We are going to let God do more with our time.”
In that famous Deuteronomy passage, there are four discipleship moments mentioned: Getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, sitting down at home and leaving the home (along the road).
Throughout the world, these things happen every single day. We all wake up, we all sleep, we all sit, we all go.
I find it so interesting these are the times God said, “Talk to your kids about me.” The most ordinary, normative moments of the day become extraordinary moments to disciple our kids in the faith.
So, back to that original question of “How?”
By simply inviting Christ into your calendar, into each moment, into each activity. It starts with just one comment, one reflection, one pause to turn our focus from the temporal to the eternal.
At a workshop I once did for family ministers, I had people write down some everyday activities they do during these four moments.
For instance, what do they do each morning when they wake up? Then I asked them, “Now consider, how can you invite Jesus into those moments?”
A lady piped up, “I don’t think Jesus can join me while I brush my teeth.”
I challenged her to get creative and see if there was anything she could think of to invite Christ into that most ordinary moment.
A few months later, I bumped into her and she said, “Oh, I just have to tell you. I took you up on your challenge. I had the idea to start writing Bible verses and encouraging notes to my family and using Post-it notes to hang them on the mirror in the bathroom.
“Now every day when they brush their teeth, they are reading God’s Word to them for the day. We all do it now. It’s become a ‘thing’ in our house. Thanks for pushing me to think about how to invite Christ in.”
Brushing teeth as discipleship. If there could be a more mundane, nonspiritual activity on the planet, I can’t think of what it would be. And yet, when Christ is invited into that space, it becomes extraordinary.
It begins with reflecting on where in our daily lives we can invite Christ in.
Could we talk about a verse as we drive to soccer practice? Could our dinner conversation open doors to discuss how God loves us and lives through us?
Could movie night be a chance to impress God’s commands upon their hearts? Could God meet us as we tuck our kids into bed each night?
Discipleship at home isn’t about doing more; it’s about inviting Christ into what you are already doing.
It’s about impressing the heart of God into our children’s hearts in the everyday moments so that being a Christian isn’t about going to church or managing sin or even reading the Bible but rather about living each moment with hearts turned to God and lives reflecting God’s love.
It’s about creating disciples by remembering Ephesians 5:15-16’s exhortation: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.”
A church planter with Plowshares Brethren in Christ in Lexington, Kentucky, she is a graduate of Wesley Seminary with a Master of Arts degree in ministry focusing on family, youth and children’s ministry.