Whether you know it or not, we are in a new liturgical season of the church calendar. This season is called Epiphany, which means: to make manifest; to show; or to reveal. During this season–which lasts from January 6th until February 28th—the worldwide church takes time to reflect on the person and work of Jesus. Traditionally the color (yes, the church calendar has colors associated with it!) is green, which signifies new life and growth in discipleship. How fitting it is that we, as a Church, are currently in a series entitled, Peter: Growing with Jesus!
At City Church, we always want to keep this truth in front of us: that we are a broken people, loved by God, continually renewed by Christ. This truth informs how we minister to our children and students, as well as to adults. Could we take this season of the year, when Christians the world over are seeking growth in Christ, as a time where we could intentionally seek growth in the discipleship of our children as well?
I must confess, as a new parent and pastor, I don’t have it all figured out (surprise, surprise)! But you and I can still take steps in the right direction when discipling our children, even when they are a few days or months old. Obviously, we are called to care for and nurture our children in a loving way that will keep them safe and healthy, but we are also called to pray with and for our children as well as to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of Christ’s Church. There is so much to learn in each of these arenas, and honestly, there are more books out there (with differing opinions) than we could ever hope to read. Often we concern ourselves more so with the former (keeping our kids physically healthy), at the expense of the latter. So how can we care for our children and reveal more of Christ to them every day?
First, we must seek Jesus ourselves. It is kind of like the safety instructions we hear on an airplane. We must first put on our own oxygen mask before we put on anyone else’s, even a child’s. If we are separated from the life giving oxygen of the gospel, how can we survive to put Jesus in front of anyone else inside or outside of our family? What are the ways Jesus is being revealed to you throughout the week? Since you are reading my obscure blog on the church’s website, I’m going to assume that you are somewhat involved in the life of the church. How does that carry over into the life of your personal time? There are no set rules as to how much of the Bible you must read each year, or what time of day you must read it, or how...but we must find some avenues for God’s Word to make its way into our hearts. We need that gospel oxygen in our bloodstream.
Second, we must take the long view. Discipleship is about a long obedience in the same direction, and we get there step by step. So as we endeavor to reveal more of Jesus in our families, we need to give ourselves grace and permission to fail. Perhaps revealing more of Jesus takes any number of forms:
- Talking about God with your spouse in the presence of your children
- Faithfulness in participating in the life of the church
- Praying before meals and/or before bedtime
- Getting a babysitter so you can attend City Group (translation: Christian community is this important to Mom and Dad)
- Reading a few verses at the dinner table, and asking a question or two
- Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible or Hug a Bible, etc. to your children
- Asking follow up questions to Children’s Worship lessons or the sermon on the car ride home
- Praying with your children for their non-Christian friends at school or on their street
- Singing some favorite hymns/songs with your kids from time to time
Third, avoid the “all-or-nothing” mentality. Just as we must ease out way back into exercise, we must ease our way into discipleship. If you’re not currently doing any of these things or just one or two things with your family, then maybe add one or two more and see how that goes for a few weeks. There is no need to try and do everything immediately, get frustrated, and give up. Take it slow, seek Jesus personally, and have a long view, trusting that God is at work in your family.
There is so much more we could talk about, and I’d be happy to talk more with you! But for now, as you seek to reveal more of the riches of the gospel to your children, remember that God loves you even when you fail, that he loves your kids even more than you do, and that your family is part of the larger family of Christ’s Church. We are in this together.