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The Lord designed households to be unique places for the development of disciples. Parents are commanded in Deuteronomy 6:6–7 to teach the words of God “diligently to your children, and . . . 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.” In the New Testament, when a head of a household was a disciple, it had implications for his family (Luke 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:14; 2 Tim. 1:5). In Ephesians 6:4, there is a direct command to disciple children: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (NKJV). The Lord certainly calls His disciples to disciple their children.
It is never too early to begin with routines of discipleship. Sing psalms and hymns over little ones and set aside time daily for family Bible reading and prayer. In time, introduce Scripture memory and catechisms (Ps. 119:9–11). Make Lord’s Day worship a delight and a priority. Speak often of God’s Word, His works in creation, His providences, and prayers that He’s answered. These habits will set the stage for the rest of life.
As children grow, discipleship will need to intertwine with everyday life even more. The meaning of “training” in Ephesians 6:4 includes a narrowing of options or an establishing of boundaries. Children will need rules based on God’s Word so that they may learn obedience and the consequences of disobedience. This process ought not to lead to a constantly broken relationship but to a growing understanding that discipline is loving (Heb. 12:3–11). Seek to show them how each situation can either lead to alienation or to the cross of Christ and reconciliation.
As children grow, conversations become the most important aspect of discipleship. The Savior answered many questions from His disciples, and parents also should become a primary source of answers. This can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to take time to respond, to research, or to ask advice yourself, but be consistent in giving responses. Make your home a place of godly discussions, even healthy debates. Especially in this information age, teach them where to find the right answers for themselves, which includes helping them cultivate relationships with their elders. When questions become difficult, pray with your children for wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13; James 1:5).
Christian homes can be pictured as greenhouses where children grow up as small plants for a time. They are given water and nurtured by the Word, cultivated and pruned, and to a degree they are protected. It is your calling as a parent to be diligent in discipling and sheltering, but also to be encouraged that the Holy Spirit often uses holy households to nurture faith, despite our inevitable failures. Above all, depend on His work, and be faithful to pray that the Lord would give the increase.