No, this is not what you’re thinking. You will not be able to buy this “discipleship program” at your local Christian bookstore.
Last night, we had the opportunity to provide dinner for a couple who just had their first baby. Well, I said “we” but once again it was mostly my wife who made arrangements, planned and prepared the meal. My wife fixed her famous fried chicken fingers (sorry, Stan, there were no leftovers). We loaded the food into the van and headed to their house. They live about 15 minutes away, so we had about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to talk together as a family.
Last Sunday, our brother Rob taught our church from 2 Timothy 3:10-17. Unfortunately, my son and I were sick, so we did not hear him. However, my wife (and others) told me that he greatly challenged the church, especially in the area of family discipleship.
We began talking about discipleship on the way to our friends’ house. We asked our children who they looked to as spiritual leaders in their lives (besides us). I was pleased to hear them mention some godly men and women that God has brought into their lives. We reminded them that they could always talk to us, but if they wanted to talk to other people, we would encourage that as well.
We also talked about pastors. Our church is seeking God’s will and examining the body to determine if we should recognize others as pastors. We even talked about (*gasp*) how the Holy Spirit makes people overseers.
When we got to our friends’ house, we delivered the food, and my wife and daughter were able to see their new baby boy. Unfortunately, my son and I waited at the door, since we have both been sick this week. We would also usually prefer to stay and have dinner with them, but again, we didn’t want to expose them and the baby to this virus.
So, we loaded back into our van after a few minutes, and continued our conversation. This time, my wife started the discussion. My wife and daughter had read Psalm 32 together that morning. We discussed sin, conviction, guilt, punishment, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. We talked about meditating on the Scripture that we read by thinking about it throughout the day, trying to determine how God would use that Scripture in our lives. By the time we had returned home, several of us had confessed our sins to one another, and admitted that we couldn’t stop sinning on our own.
We occasionally (I want to say “usually”, but that would be stretching it) read Scripture together before dinner. But, this hasn’t led to the discussions that I would like us to have, not like the discussions we had last night in the van. My wife and I also read Scripture together sometimes at night. Right now, we’re reading Daniel. It has been interesting, but difficult reading. Again, we have had some great discussions after reading, but not as encouraging as the discussion we had last night in the van. (Perhaps I should market this “Van-based discipleship program”. If I could only come up with a good acronym…)
What happened tonight is the way that I prefer to disciple my family. I prefer that we discuss Scripture and what God is doing as a normal part of our life, instead of setting aside a certain time each day as “devotion time”. There is certainly nothing wrong with a specific time of devotion, and we may use something like that to help us in family discipleship.
These times of natural discipleship do not always take place in our van. But, I thank God for what he taught me last night. I hope the rest of my family feels the same way.
My prayer is that when my children are older, they will “continue in what [they] have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom [they] learned it and how from childhood [they] have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make [them] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV).