Family Discipleship Introduction
With our growing church family, I read of a family who has a reputation for joining as many churches as possible and thought I would share what I read. The following description will help you to recognize them if they start attending here at Fellowship.
They are known as The “Tator” family.
He’s the daddy, self-appointed leader of the church, heads all committees, feels very important. He just dictates, never works.
She’s the mother, never has any thoughts of her own. She just imitates. Always seconds someone else’s motion. She is active in all phases of church life, imitating her closest friends.
He’s the oldest son, and goes to college. When he’s asked to do something, he just hesitates. He feels he isn’t qualified for any job. Also, he is too busy with other things to work for the Lord.
Carmen is the daughter. She sits in the back row of Sunday school, church and training time, commenting on everything and everybody.
He’s in high school. When asked to participate in programs or socials, Speck says no. He says he just spectates.
This is the oldest member of the Tator family. She’s been a Christian for forty years, she claims. She doesn’t believe that a church should make any changes, like adding or subtracting a hymn from the morning service. She agitates people; keeps things stirred up.
This is the only cordial and cooperative member of the Tator family. She is an ideal church member, for she takes part in and supports the whole church program, is generous with time and talents, and never dictates, hesitates, commentates or agitates.
Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc., 1996), 973–974.
Well, welcome tonight, as we give a preface to our new series we are going to walk through together on Sunday Evenings beginning next week. The series is on the discipleship of our families and the content we will cover will be helpful for every individual and family dynamic.
Each Sunday evening, beginning next week and extending for seven weeks will involve a 30 minute service which will include worship and a bible lesson with helpful content in how to disciple our families.
We will also have a light supper provided following that 30 minute service such as nachos, hotdogs, hamburgers, tacos, of something simple like that. You’re welcome to bring a side dish or dessert, but we will also have chips and little debbie’s if no one brings anything.
We will have some games set up outside and some organized activities for the kids and kid-want-a-bes to join in on too.
It will be a helpful, productive, intentional time of growing closer together as a church family.
Now, For a moment, I would like to spend a little time speaking tonight on the The Why behind the What.
Why the emphasis on Family Discipleship?
First and foremost, we know that parenting can be one of the most stressful, fun, overwhelming, encouraging difficult callings in the world.
Each of our children are unique and raising them is an endless challenging adventure.
In this adventure, God calls parents to disciple their children: to teach them to obey all that He has commanded and to see Christ formed in them.
Just before the ascension of Christ, he spoke to His disciples and told them to:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
This commission was to be passed on from disciple to disciple and includes those home and abroad.
We find Paul speaking of his influence in the hearts of Galatian believers when he said:
19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.
Paul was passionate about being intentional in the spiritual development of those he partnered with.
Not only do we find the implicit instruction to make disciples of all nations, including the ones within our home, but we see on a daily basis the spiritual decline within our culture.
It has been said that:
To our forefathers, our faith was an experience.
To our fathers, our faith was an inheritance.
To us, our faith is a convenience.
To our children, our faith is a nuisance.
I spoke with a man this afternoon who mentioned how his children are not in church although they were brought up around faith.
There is a spiritual decline in America and it is our responsibility and opportunity to influence those God has given us.
I volunteer down at Pregnancy Choices here in Linton asa Fatherhood Mentor, meeting with soon to be expecting dads. We talk through the mechanics of fatherhood and field many questions they have - whether it is about fatherhood or life in general.
In volunteering at PC, I have yet to meet a young man who has said his dad was a super-positive influence in his life - let alone a dad who was a spiritual leader in his home.
And one truth we look at early in that Fatherhood course is “Family of Origin” and how we will often parent the same way we learned from our parents if we don’t intentionally change it.
How about for you, was their a spirit of discipleship in your home growing up? Was there intentional time set aside on a regular basis to talk about Gospel truth and how it applies to everyday living?
If not, don’t worry. We are going to discuss some helpful content that will help each of our families grow in a greater way in this area.
Now, before we get too far into this material, it is important to note that we all have parental struggles. We all find it difficult to be ultra-consistent with living like Jesus. Each family that you get to know over the next 8 weeks has the occasional flesh-slip and could tell plenty of stories how God’s grace was needed the week before.
No family is perfect, because no individual in a family is perfect.
This goes for the groups of people who will come in on Sunday, and the group as a whole. We are all broken people, who multiplied our brokenness by bringing children into the world, and we are desperate for God’s grace.
You know, each of us spends intentional time on what matters most to us.
To the sports dad, you are intentional about making sure your kid knows how to catch a ball in his/her mit.
To the educated parent, you are intentional to make sure your kid gets his/her homework done on time.
To the outdoorsmen, you make sure your kid knows the difference between a weed and poison ivy.
You are intentional about what matters to you.
And the point of this series is for each of us to become more intentional with what matters most. The relationship we have with the Lord and His people.
According to the Bible, Family is really important.
If you think about it, God created man and quickly placed him in a family.
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Adam and Eve were the first family and they enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God. They were to glorify God through mutually caring for His creation.
Their roles were clearly defined even before the fall. And as scripture proceeds from Creation, we see God’s clear purposes for marriage and family repeat for generation to generation.
God created family to teach us about Him. Families help us understand the relational nature of God and how He relates to His children. Over and over again in Scripture, He uses the family to illustrate His care, provision, power, love and wisdom.
God is the perfect Father who adopts all who would love and trust His Son.
Also, our natural, physical families point to a connection with our eternal family. Just as we desire physical homes that are characterized by peace and harmony for a common goal, so too the church strives together for he common goal of God’s glory.
The family is the first and most foundational unit of a society, and as such is the means that mankind fulfills God’s command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1. Mankind multiplies and subdues the earth through the family plan of God.
Further, families are the primary place a person is to be nurtured, cultivated and cared for. God’s intention for those who bare His image is that they know the care, instruction, protection, and love that comes from belonging to a family. And that in this context they would flourish!
So, we would all agree that the family unit that God has designed is really important. Parent, your role is crucial. Children, your place is crucial too.
Now, in many ways we see the imperative and importance to disciple our kids, but many of us parents have been convinced that we need to outsource the responsibility. We send our kids to teachers, counselors, tutors, coaches, and churches for them to learn and develop.
There is nothing wrong with utilizing specialists in specific fields, because parents aren’t expected to be experts in every area.
But when it comes to spiritual matters, God gives the primary responsibility of religious instruction to parents.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Israel was to teach the commandments of God to their children diligently
5 For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments; 8 And may not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not set its heart aright, And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
They were to teach their children so that their children could teach their grandchildren
Paul on the family dynamic said:
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” 4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
So God’s plan is for families to be where humanity flourishes, God’s character is displayed and where disciples of Jesus are made.
In God’s design, the parents are given the closest proximity and greatest influence in the lives of their children.
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly imparting truth to our kids.
Kids naturally imitate their parents. They mirror mannerisms, repeat words and mimic facial expressions.
And they learn what is important in life as they witness how mom and dad spend their time, money and attention.
For this reason God instructs parents to be intentional and purposed in bringing their children up in the nurture and instruction of the Lord.
But I am thankful too that God’s plan does not leave parents all alone in this massive endeavor.
The church as a whole is to compliment the load of disciple making. As a group, we are to recount God’s power and faithfulness and to testify of His character and His ways.
The church as a whole is entrusted with the joyful duty of discipling the next generation.
So if you don’t have kids of your own, or they are grown, if it’s just you and your spouse, or you live alone - God has given you breath and with that breath - purpose!
And part of the purpose of the church is making disciples!
Typically when people think of the church they think of a building, but that’s not how it should be. The church is the people - the relationships that are built as we walk together in community. The Church is the people who who carry our burdens, share our sorrows and celebrations, pray with us, encourage us, and receive our crisis phone calls late at night.
And with this in mind, the role of the Church is to help disciple children by coming alongside parents and caregivers with love, support, accountability and prayer.
As part of the church, each of us have a unique opportunity to help others in their walk with Christ.
So to wrap it up tonight, the family plans of God are a big deal. He has given parents the primary responsibility to disciple their kids and point them to Gospel truth. Likewise, God has uniquely gifted the church to partner together in helping one another walk closer to Christ.
And over the next seven weeks we are going to look at practical ways to intentionally disciple our families.
We will look at how spouses can intentionally work together to deepen their relationship with Christ.
We will learn some helpful tips in discipling our kids.
We will see how important our own walk with Christ is to the synergy of the church as a whole.
So come back next week to learn and have a great time with our faith family.