A lifetime ago when my wife and I talked about having kids, I always approached the conversations with a confident anticipation that we would have great kids and that we would make great parents. In my mind we had several things going for us. First, we both had great parents. Imperfect? Sure. But they were good parents and gave us great examples to follow. Second, we were connected to a good church (Christ Chapel), and thus had a great support network for wisdom and encouragement. Third, how hard could it be? I mean, people have been doing this for generations upon generations. It’ll just come naturally, right?

Then we had a kid.

Then we had three more.

The work of being a good parent got real, real quick. In fact, I learned that being a good parent was a lot harder than I would have ever imagined because it required much more of me than I would have ever thought possible. Every day these mini-me’s required love, food, attention and so much more. One of the things that I have come to realize is an absolute essential to being a good parent is the responsibility of taking care of the spiritual maturity of my children. In the same way I care for their physical growth, I must also take care of their spiritual growth. Let me explain.

Deuteronomy 6 calls for God’s people to actively, intentionally and to repeatedly tell each generation of God’s goodness and of His commandments. God tells His people, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.” Growing up in the church, I knew God wanted me to keep His commandments on my heart, but somehow I missed that He wants me, as a parent, to actively teach God’s ways to my kids. God is telling us here that a necessary ingredient to being a good parent is to regularly be teaching spiritual truths to our kids, that both in the things we do and the things we say our kids will be learning about God . . . from us. Paul in the New Testament says the same thing. In Ephesians 6:4 Paul says to raise kids in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord.” We are to actually make space in our day to instruct our kids about Jesus. We are to not only discipline our kids but also disciple them. This means things like teaching them the Scriptures, helping them understand Christian theology, forming within them a biblical worldview. God has put this on the job description as a parent, and we need to step into this with vigor.

Thankfully, we can look back through the pages of church history and see examples of people who have done this well. Pastor Matthew Henry, well-known for his commentary on the entire Bible, writes, “Nothing [is] more agreeable to a gracious soul than constant communion with a gracious God; it is the one thing it desires, to dwell in the home of the Lord; here it is as in its element, it is its rest for ever. If, therefore our house be houses of the Lord, we shall for that reason love home, reckoning our daily devotion the sweetest of our daily delights, and our family worship the most valuable of our family comforts.” Worshiping as a family helps our children understand and embrace Jesus. Richard Cecil, an Anglican pastor from the 18th/19th century calls for parents to hold family worship — but to do it well. He says, “Let family worship be short, savory, tender, heavenly.” Teaching our kids about Jesus doesn’t have to be drab, boring or burdensome. It’s our chance to introduce our kids to Jesus. However, like I’ve already said, raising kids is hard, it’s already requiring a significant amount of my precious time and energy, how are we to get this done? Glad you asked.

In his book Family Worship, Donald Whitney offers a simple plan to make discipleship at home a reality. In fact all it takes is some time to read, pray and sing. Read a passage together from the Bible (Got young kids? Check out this storybook Bible), spend some time praying for the needs of others and of your family, and sing a song (Afraid of singing? Download some Seeds music and simply sing along). It really is that simple to make worshipping at home a reality for your family. Even though raising kids can be hard, the good news is that family worship doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be life-giving to your family as you lift Jesus up in your home and grow toward Him together as a family.

Micah Barnum

 

 

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Topics in Parenting Conference
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8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Fort Worth Campus
Oak Room
Cost: $10 per person

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