A Family of the Word

A recent event at my home church has me thinking more about the role of parents and families in ministry. The baby dedication service was renamed to a “parents commissioning” service. With the name change, there was a noticeable change in focus from just oohing and aahing at new babies to committing as a church with the parents to the spiritual growth of their children.

As Christian parents, our children are our primary focus in ministry, as we steward them during their formative years. Parents are to be the front line of discipleship for their children, but many times we leave this to others or to no one at all. Those who have answered the call to cross-cultural service or full-time ministry are no less responsible for their children, and yet, in the busyness and adjustment of mission-life, children can be left behind.

The family that reads the Word together grows together.

When our boys were young, we were in the prime years of ministry life overseas. Our house was dubbed an aircraft carrier by colleagues, as they saw people come in and out at all hours. While we talked about the Bible and read the Bible with our kids at bedtime, there were nights when we had interruptions from guests. At one point, when our boys were experiencing some issues, we realized we needed to block out a specific time each day for a family meal, Bible reading, and bedtime routine. Showing them, we were putting them first quickly changed the dynamic.

One of the best years I remember was after we’d returned to the States, and our boys were in middle and high school. My husband said he wanted us to begin the year by reading through the entire Bible together. We each read the daily required readings on our own, and then at dinner, we’d discuss what we’d read. Listening to how the Spirit spoke to our sons was one of the greatest gifts a mother could receive. We talked about hard passages for sure and leaned on my husband to clarify many, but they also gave us unique insights from their perspectives as teenagers. We celebrated our year of Bible reading with a special meal. I know that each of us treasured that precious time.

Be willing to learn from your children.

I wish I had written down things my sons taught me in their younger years, but I love talking to them now, as young men, about what God is saying to me through Scripture. They freely share their agreement and sometimes disagreements with what I’m hearing. We hash out issues together. Even with younger children, ask them what they think God is saying in a verse or passage. Questions bring opportunities to dig and discover, letting the Bible become a place to explore and learn. Make the Bible the place you go for answers as a family.

When mission life or culture weighs you down or when kids are struggling with life in a new country, turn as a family to God’s Word. Parents who use the Bible as their guide and source for answers over Google, model to their children that God is good enough for their needs. Don’t be afraid to tell your child you don’t know the answer, but are sure that God does. We don’t have to answer every question in the moment. Tell them you’re going to search it out in the Word, and encourage them, if they’re old enough, to do the same. Then come together with what you’ve discovered.

We can’t teach what we don’t model.Making disciples of all nations has no meaning if we’re not first making disciples of our children. In fact, how you raise children according to Scripture is a wonderful teaching model for discipling others. Fathers and mothers are crucial in this role. The father, as leader of the home, is the central voice of Bible teaching, but children need to hear how God speaks through their mother as well. Girls need to know their mother holds up God’s Word as her guide just as much as boys need to see their fathers walking in obedience to Scripture. Well-rounded children receive well-balanced teaching.As you serve, ask yourself if you’ve lost touch with the importance of your role in stewarding your children, teaching them Scripture, and modeling a life of placing the Word as the primary source of guidance for your life. Pray together as a couple, asking the Lord to equip you to disciple your children to the glory of God.Grace and peace


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