If you disciple anyone, make sure to disciple your own kids. This is easy to overlook but absolutely essential.
Unfortunately we created a discipleship pipeline for our children that doesn’t work. We act like it works but it doesn’t work to raise mature disciples. I am talking about the drop-off youth ministry hamster wheel. Not every youth ministry is like that but many are. You take your kid. You put them in the group. The youth minister does things to connect with them and they are supposed to grow a lasting faith.
Except they often don’t grow a lasting faith.
This is a problem and it isn’t that youth ministers are the problem. It is that our expectations of what a youth ministry is supposed to accomplish is a problem. And it let the parents off the hook in discipling their own children.
So let’s first determine to be the primary discipler of our own kids. Now for the three principles to keep in mind when discipling your kids.
1 – Use Jesus’ approach.
Take them places. Show them things. Teach them to connect what they experience with God. Show them how various situations move you to prayer. Teach them the teachings of Jesus. Show them how to live like Jesus lived – to love hard people, pray for enemies, and obey God through total surrender.
2 – Consider the telos (the end goal)
Who do you want them to become and what needs to be done at each stage of development to get them one step closer to where you believe God wants them to be? Another way to ask this is – what does it take to be a mature follower of Jesus and how does one learn that across their lifespan? And…how do you as the parent help facilitate that?
3 – Your example sets the tone
You can teach them all the right things but if you aren’t living it, you can forget them ever taking following Jesus seriously. This doesn’t mean you have to do it perfectly. It does mean if you mess up, handle it in a godly way (apology, repentance, etc). They will probably not surpass your spiritual maturity for quite some time – so your maturity can put a lid on their maturity. So make sure you are growing as you are training them to grow. If you aren’t serious about your faith – get serious about your faith!
Last, if you have messed up in this area and are beating yourself up over it – turn it and them over to God. They belong to Him even more than they belong to you and He can work miracles.