the weblog of Alan Knox

A Van-based discipleship program

Posted by on Mar 6, 2009 in discipleship | 4 comments

What kind of “discipleship program” do I prefer? I prefer the type of discipleship that takes place through the normal course of relationships. This type of discipleship cannot be programmed or planned, but it can be intentional. Two years ago, I wrote about an occasion we had to disciples ourselves as a family in a post called “A Van-based discipleship program“.


A Van-based discipleship program

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).


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 3-6-2009

    I love your thoughts here. It’s so true, those moments where the openness and discussion happen naturally are usually the most impactful. It’s also refreshing to hear someone talk about the kind of discipleship that doesn’t rely on curriculums or workbooks, but let’s God steer it’s course through everyday life. Thanks, Daniel

  2. 3-6-2009


    The difficulty of this type of discipleship is that it cannot be measured or controlled. We’re always wondering if we’re “doing enough” – whatever that means.

    Of course, with the programmatic type of discipleship, I think that people are often left with a false sense of discipling and being discipled, when very little discipleship is actually taking place.


  3. 3-7-2009


    This is awesome. It’s my belief that the discipling children get from their parents, firmly sets their spiritual foundation for life.

    Deut. 6:4-9 is a scripture text that I use, to show parents that it’s God’s plan for them to disciple their children. To many people are now relying on the church youth group for that purpose. It’s very sad.


  4. 3-7-2009


    Yes, I agree. Although most parents will say that it is their responsibility to disciple their children, most also relinquish this responsibility to others. Amazingly, with all the children’s programs, youth programs, and young adult programs, we seem to be less and less discipled.