Parents Lead but it Takes a Village…

“It takes a Village.” Probably an overused quote but very applicable in the world of parenting. As many of you know I believe the Bible clearly points to parents as the primary faith trainers in the lives of children. However, parents are not alone and do not bear the sole burden of spiritual formation according to the Scriptures.

Let’s revisit a well known tenet of our faith. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.’

Who among us are disciple makers?  Just parents?

We live in an unprecedented season of a Holy Spirit influenced “balancing.” For years in practice the church has monopolized discipleship. Lately Christian leadership at the local church level has experienced an reawakening to the ancient path of spiritual formation as stated in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Whereas once we were unbalanced in our practice of discipleship, God is leading us to a more biblical model of spiritual formation. A 24/7 approach in which the family takes the lead.

There is a danger here. As is typical with moves of God, eventually we get our hands on it. There is potential for us, in our obsession with extremes, to swing hard the other way making an idol of family. It is really not one or the other. Biblically it is both. The best formula for spiritual formation is Dt. 6 + Mt. 28:18-20.

We are all disciple-makers according to the words of Jesus. It does not matter if we are married, single, parents, grandparents, emptynesters, or college students. We are all disciple-makers if we truly are followers of Christ. ( I define Christ-follower as one whose life is patterned after the Word and model of Jesus.)

As a parents Angela and I realize we need help. We need other people to speak into our kids’ lives as they begin to own their faith. We need children’s ministry leaders, student leaders, and volunteer ministry leadership to help us as we seek to make disciples of our own children. We need Christian teachers and coaches to model Christ for them. There will come a day, likely, that for whatever reason our kids can not hear from us. In that moment it will take a village. It will take community. It will take the body of Christ working together for the spiritual formation of our children.

When you think about family ministry shoot for the Biblical balance. That balance answers a lot of your strategy questions. Even Deuteronomy 6 was typically lived out in community.  We were designed for community by a God who knows what we need.

As a parent, don’t go it alone.  Surround your family with people who love God, love people, and desire to help you make disciples of your children.  We are all in this together.  It truly takes a village!

3 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. I’m a recent convert to “faith at home.” I was raised in a pastor’s home from very early in my childhood. The extent of my religious faith was given to me through Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and peers. I’m grateful they were there but in no way did it relieve the call on my fathers life to disciple his own children.

    As a father of young children, I started down the same path as many. I took my kids to church on Sunday’s, talked about the Sunday School lesson on the way home, had my own quite time once or maybe twice a week and that was pretty much the extent of our family spiritual life.

    You have heard the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing and expect different results. Like Dr. Phil say’s “How’s that working out for ya?”
    Well, I’ve decided to follow God’s mandate in Ephesians 6:4 and take responsibility for the training and instruction of my children in the way of the Lord. In other words, to disciple my own children.

    No I don’t intend on isolating my family from the rest of the Christian community, but I do indeed plan to be the number one influence in their lives in helping them create their world/biblical viewpoint.

    Yes we have already been called extreme for having our kids join us in the worship service at church. I’m not against youth programs if they are open and encourage parent/student involvement on a mass scale. What I am opposed to is the current model of the Western church.

    Why is it that at the most crucial age of the teen years do we hand our children off to someone possibly a couple of years older than they are with a team of our children’s peers and expect them to impart Biblical truths that are supposed to help our kids form their world viewpoint?

    If you’re okay with the results we currently get from segregating families in discipleship/worship then keep doing what you’re doing. If not, seek a better way!


  2. Thank you so much for this article! We have observed a few christian families in our church slowly pull their kids away from ANY outside influences and are now completely isolated and going at the parenting thing alone. As with many areas in this walk of faith, the two extremes are indeed dangerous. Thank you for outlining it so clearly. Might I link your article to my personal family blog for others to read?

    Thanks also for your recent Focus on the Family interview. I found it thought-provoking, Christ-like, and God-glorifying. -Karen


  3. Great thoughts here! I just spent some time this afternoon reading Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner, and he places a lot more emphasis on making sure your kids have good influences outside the home than I have heard among a lot of family ministry/faith at home types. So your post is incredibly timely, as it puts the two ideas together – we’re (hopefully) leaving behind a history of tipping way too far toward the “church as discipler” model, but we have to be careful not to let the pendulum swing in the other direction!

    Anyways, just wanted to say thanks for this post! It really helped me put together some of these thoughts for myself. 🙂


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