While we can build a case biblically that others can & should play a discipleship role in the lives of children, the primary discipleship influence befalls to parents.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the disciple and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
So, lately, I’ve been thinking about how the church and its leaders can help parents disciple their children.
My daughter started pre-school & day-care this year, and our church started Awana this year. I know she is learning a lot at all these places. She is singing new songs, pointing out letters and shapes, and many other things. But when I ask her what she did at school or learned at Awana, I get the classic kid response, “I don’t know.” So, at Awana, we put together take home sheet for parents, which are brief overviews of what was covered that week or unit. I wish I would get something like that from her school and day-care. And I know we can improve upon what we handout for Awana.
I think we can help parents disciple their children by providing 2 things: an instructive overview and conversational questions.
I think we need to provide an overview of what was taught. This will help the parent both know what was taught, but it can also help disciple the parent. The parent can learn along with the child. So this overview needs to instructive in nature, not just reporting in nature. We cannot assume that a parent knows Bible stories, character, truths, contexts, etc.. So, we need to help them with their Biblical knowledge. Yet, we still need to keep it brief and to the point, so that it will get read and not set to the side.
So, if the lesson was on creation. We can provide the Bible passages that were covered and even write out a key verse or two.
This week we learned about creation. Genesis 1-2 provides the foundational overview of God’s work in creation. Before there was anything else, there was God. God is eternal; He has no beginning and no creator. Rather, God is the creator of all things. He created the whole universe with all its galaxies, stars, and planets. God created all the animals, plants, and things on Earth. And God created mankind. God created man different from all the other creatures. God breathed life into man and he became a living being with a soul, so man is created in the image of God.
“And God saw everything He had made and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
Then we need to provide questions and conversation starters to help parents talk with their children about what they learned. That way the parent doesn’t have to ask the generic question, “what did you learn today.” And I don’t think just providing the overview is enough. Sure, the parent can ask some questions like, “did you learn about creation today?” or “what did you learn about creation.” But these questions are not as helpful as they other questions could be. We can help parents by providing them with questions that will make it easy for the child to answer and answer with thoughtful answers.
What are some things in space that God created?
What kinds of things on the earth did God create?
What makes mankind different from all the other creatures that God created?
How is God different from creation?
Sure, writing up an overview with good teaching and good questions takes more effort and creativity, but it will go a long way in helping parents be the primary discipleship influence in their kids lives, which is how God intends it to be. So, let’s make it worth the extra effort and time.