One thing parents often say to me when I am talking about discipleship in the home is, “How?” The following explanation goes something like this:
We are so busy (tired, full schedule) that we are barely home (awake, together) and when we are, we just want to rest (relax, watch TV) not try to have church (do a family devotion, have a faith talk).
And after that is usually something like, “I know that’s not right but I just don’t even know where to start.”
I feel that, I truly do. Our family, like many of yours, also lives a busy life. Until recently, all of us, from the youngest to the oldest, were full-time students, in five different schools, doing activities ranging from archery club to student newspaper to president of the student body. Our calendar is a veritable rainbow of appointments, events, and practices.
And the thought of having to add something else to it, especially something as intentional as a family devotional time or a faith talk, can feel absolutely overwhelming.
It’s at this point that it is tempting to say, “Forget it. The kids will just have to get the Jesus stuff at church.” And that kind of thinking leads to a relinquishing of our unique responsibility to raise our children in the faith as well as a willingness to overlook the very real fact that parents, not ministers, have the greatest influence on their child’s faith whether they are intentional about it or not.
Another way of thinking
Could it be that when the charge to “impress these things upon your children” was given in Deuteronomy 6, it wasn’t a just call to family devotions? That perhaps what God had in mind was a bit more involved than that?
What if instead of adding another thing to our calendar, we sought for ways to intentionally invite Christ into what we are already doing?
What if instead of saying, “There’s no time to do more” we started saying “We are going to let God do more with our time.”
In that famous Deuteronomy passage, there are four discipleship moments mentioned: Getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, sitting down at home, and leaving the home (along the road). Throughout the world, these things happen every single day. We all wake up, we all sleep, we all sit, we all go.
I find it so interesting that these are the times that God said, “Talk to your kids about Me.” The most ordinary, normative moments of the day become extraordinary moments to disciple our kids in the faith.
So, back to that original question of “How?”
By simply inviting Christ into your calendar, into each moment, into each activity. It starts with just one comment, one reflection, one pause to turn our focus from the temporal to the eternal.
Every day discipleship
At a workshop I once did for family ministers, I had people write down some everyday activities they do during these four moments. For instance, what do they do each morning when they wake up? Then I asked them, “Now consider, how can you invite Jesus into those moments?” A lady piped up, “I don’t think Jesus can join me while I brush my teeth?” I challenged her to get creative and see if there was anything she could think of to invite Christ into that most ordinary moment.
A few months later, I bumped into her and she said, “Oh, I just have to tell you. I took you up on your challenge. I had the idea to start writing Bible verses and encouraging notes to my family and using post-its to hang them on the mirror in the bathroom. Now every day when they brush their teeth, they are reading God’s word to them for the day. We all do it now. It’s become a ‘thing’ in our house. Thanks for pushing me to think about how to invite Christ in.”
Wow. Brushing teeth as discipleship. If there could be a more mundane, non-spiritual activity on the planet, I can’t think of what it would be. And yet, when Christ is invited into that space, it becomes extraordinary.
What about us? Where in our daily lives can we invite Christ in? Could we talk about a verse as we drive to soccer practice? Could our dinner conversation open doors to discuss how God loves us and lives through us? Could movie night be a chance to impress God’s commands upon their hearts? Could God meet us as we tuck our kids into bed each night?
Living each moment
Discipleship at home isn’t about doing more; it’s about inviting Christ into what you are already doing.
It’s about impressing the heart of God into our children’s hearts in the everyday moments so that being a Christian isn’t about going to church or managing sin or even reading the Bible. Rather, it’s about living each moment with hearts turned to God and lives reflecting His love. It’s about creating disciples.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time” (Ephesians 5:15, 16a ESV).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christina Embree is the founder of Refocus Ministry, and is passionate about connecting generations at church and at home. She serves as the Minister of Generational Discipleship with the Great Lakes Conference of the Brethren in Christ. She is also wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and pastor at Plowshares BIC. This article originally appeared on the Refocus blog and is used with permission.