Making Disciples at Home
By Lowell Anderson
July 28, 2013
"God created the home before He created the Church” is an oft-repeated phrase. But have we paused to ponder the implications? The primacy and sacredness of the family in the spiritual formation of children is clearly revealed in Scripture. But the dynamics of family life today have been more influenced by secular philosophies than scriptural principles, negatively influencing many Christian homes.
Christian researcher George Barna states in his book Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, “While more than four out of five parents (85 percent) believe they have the primary responsibility for the moral and spiritual development of their children, more than two out of three abdicate that responsibility to their church.”
Barna further notes, “In a typical week fewer than 10 percent of parents who regularly attend church with their kids read the Bible together, pray together (other than at meal times) or participate in an act of service as a family unit. Even fewer families — one out of every 20 — have any type of worship experience together with their kids, other than while they are at church during a typical month.”
In short, the spiritual formation of children has become church centered and home supported. The Scripture reveals the opposite to be God’s plan.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-7 the primacy of the family as the center of spiritual formation was established. Moses wrote, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (NKJV).
From Moses’ day to the present, that plan is unchanged. The spiritual training of children is to be home centered and church supported.
As God seeks to reveal himself to mankind, He becomes as active in human lives through the family as He does through the church. God reaches out to us as children in the home through the ministry of parents even before He reaches out to us in the church through the ministry of pastors.
Indeed, the “minister” who has the first, and the greatest, influence on a Christian life is the parent, not the pastor. Thus the home, not the church, is God’s primary institution of Christian education.
Christian families can no longer abdicate this responsibility. It is in the home first, not the church, that the Word of God is to be taught and lived out by godly, exemplary role models. The church should supplement and support the family, not replace it as the center of spiritual nurture.
The scriptural methods of spiritual formation are discipling and modeling. These methods demand close personal relationship. The home and family are the ideal answers for both.
Jesus personified the modeling-discipling method. In the same way that Christ was the model of God’s plans and purposes for His children, parents are to be models of God’s plans and purposes — and His nature and character — to their children.
Likewise, Jesus discipled by sharing truth in the context of everyday life and experience. He nurtured and trained the disciples in the things of God. So today it is still God’s method to nurture children in the things of God through parents who “disciple” their own children.
Sadly, both the church and home have been greatly influenced by the secular concept of schooling. Christian education has become mostly indoctrination instead of discipling/modeling.
Someone has made the accurate observation that “more is caught than taught” when it comes to the training of children. It is vital that parents model the scriptural principles and moral values that are taught in the Word.
Thus, it is vitally important the church place as much emphasis on training parents as it does on training teachers. When we recognize the home as the center of spiritual formation, we find a better balance between the home and the church in the tasks of discipling children.
Only as Christian families are strong in Christ can our churches be strong. As families in our churches become models of biblical family life, our local and national social culture will be impacted. As the love of Christ flows out the doors of united and harmonious Christian homes, down the streets of our neighborhoods, and into the broken and troubled homes of friends and neighbors, the larger body of Christ will flourish once again.
This is God’s plan for evangelism, for ministry, and for disciple making. This is true New Testament church life. We must get the roles of the church and the home back in balance. As we do, we will discover a spiritual partnership perfectly designed to address the pressing spiritual needs around us.
LOWELL ANDERSON, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, died on July 2. The July 28 issue was already in print. The Pentecostal Evangel staff offer our condolences to the Anderson family, as well as our appreciation for his years of faithful ministry.
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