Equipping Families to Shepherd Their Children

The heart of any family-equipping church is training parents to be the primary spiritual discipler of their children.  Voddie Baucham in his Family Driven Faith records that “between 70 and 88 percent of Christian teens are leaving the church by their second year in college” (10).  In an age when perhaps the majority of churched youth abandon the Christian faith during college, it is now more important than ever that parents take the imitative to raise godly men and women who are well-grounded in Scripture.  Grace Fellowship Church must hold fathers accountable to teach their family the Word of God rather than completely turning over their children to the church to disciple (177).  As Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”  A Father, as the head of his household (1 Cor 11:3), has a special responsibility to teach his children the Word of God (Eph 6:4).  Grace Fellowship Church seeks to be a family-equipping church that trains parents how to disciple their children so that they will grow up to be men and women of God.

Jay Strother in his article in Perspectives on Family Ministry provides an extremely helpful explanation of what a family-equipping church does and how to move a church to this model.  Because the spiritual immaturity of the youth of the church is directly related to the immaturity of their parents (143), parents must first be discipled before they can disciple their children.  The church needs to teach on the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life and the importance of family worship.  Donald Whitney’s books Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and Family Worship should be taught to the church to impress upon them the importance of Bible reading, prayer, and worshiping as a family.  Husbands need to be taught what it means to be a Christian man and women need to be instructed in what a godly wife looks like.  The pastor should preach on biblical manhood and womanhood and the importance of family worship.  This teaching needs to be reinforced by the Sunday School teachers and other leaders in the church to demonstrate that there is no disagreement among the leaders of the church about the significance of parents teaching their children the Scriptures.  As Strother notes, parents need to be convinced of the importance of training their children and why the church cannot do everything for them (150).

The church needs to create a system of accountability where it simply becomes part of the church’s culture to have parents worship together with and teach the Scriptures to their children at home.  Strother gives seven excellent strategies which Grace Fellowship should try to emulate in order to help parents be more involved in the discipleship of their children such as keeping the family the priority in church activities, communicating the message of parents as the primary discipler of their children, making a guide for resources, communicating with the teachers of their children, having special events devoted to teaching parents these truths, having family mission trips, and worshiping together as an entire family in church (154-56).  Parents should be able to be involved in every aspect of their children’s education at church.  The church should create a mentoring program for children who do not have Christian parents and therefore cannot be part of family worship (158).

In order for parents to teach their children the Bible, they must understand it first.  This is why expositional preaching is so important.  The whole counsel of God must be taught so that parents will be able to accurately pass on the truths of God’s Word to their children (2 Tim 2:2).  The teachers of the church must instruct the congregation in how to be good students of God’s Word and how to interpret it correctly.  Only when parents have a good model in their pastor of handling the Scriptures properly will they do so with their children.

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