In November 2018, Pew Research published a fascinating read on where Americans find the most meaning in life. You possibly had the same reaction I did. They find meaning in their money, stuff and careers. And to some degree that is true. Americans do find meaning in life in those things. However, that wasn’t the number one thing that they found in their survey.
When describing what provides them meaning, 69% of Americans said “Family.”
I wasn’t expecting that answer, but from a biblical perspective that would be accurate. In the very beginning, God created the world. And with it He created order out of chaos. Order came with a family structure. Adam and Eve were created to complement each other within the framework of this new creation. We are hardwired at the core of our beings to crave and find meaning in the family relationship.
Read their complete findings here.
Disciple Making and the Family
I am a disciple who makes disciples. After reading this I immediately had questions.
How does this impact my disciple making strategy?
What does this mean for families in Northern Virginia?
How does this inform my preaching?
How does this inform my ministry?
How should it inform your ministry and disciple making efforts?
I teach the men I am discipling the person of peace strategy to reach people and share the Gospel with people around them. The intentional focus is to reach out to people in my sphere of influence. This can be everyone from a married family man to a single woman who is a local nurse. The family dynamics range all over the place.
In other words, the person of peace strategy works for everyone right where they are. Primarily because it was Jesus’ method of making disciples, therefore we know it will work. I wonder if there is a new opportunity for the church in America when it comes to making disciples of families.
This is part one of two posts about disciple making and the family. Here are the first two opportunities I believe we have in America when it comes to making disciples and our families.
Opportunity #1 - Disciple Making Relationships Begin at Home
I was getting together with a guy I am discipling a couple weeks back. It was a great discussion and he took some great next steps. There was one moment that really stood out to me. He was asking questions about leading his wife. He viewed his role as the spiritual leader and he was trying to be, but his wife viewed him as too far ahead.
One of the leadership principles I shared with him was, “If you’re too far in front of someone, you aren’t a leader, you’re a target.”
I asked him how he had been approaching the conversation and he basically responded by saying, “Well, I gently tell her this is the way we’re going.”
I asked him how the conversation might be different if he modeled disciple making with his wife. If he viewed her as someone he was supposed to disciple. What if he simply asked more questions. Questions like:
What have you been reading in Scripture?
What do you sense God is calling you to do?
What steps of obedience do you sense you need to take?
How can I help you do take that step?
His eyes lit up as he hadn’t thought about it from that perspective before. This was an opportunity to disciple his wife in a very similar way to others he is leading. This opened up a whole new conversation for him to disciple his wife and children. He is actively pursuing his next steps in leading his family more effectively through disciple making.
I wonder how our churches, families, neighborhoods, communities and world would be different if we were leading our families well in disciple making.
Disciple making relationships begin at home.
Opportunity #2 - Discovering Baptism as a Family
Every month we host a baptism class for kids. Its primary purpose is to teach kids what baptism means, the purpose of it and to help them decide if that’s a step they would like to take.
I love that class and it doesn’t even have to do with the kids. I love that class because mom and/or dad are almost always with their kids during the teaching. They get to hear first hand what we believe about baptism, why it’s important, why we do it how we do it, etc. The opportunity is not only to introduce children to baptism as a step in their faith, but also the parents.
If 69% of Americans find meaning in their family, imagine giving them the greatest meaning of all; discipling their children. The parents are taught some basics in how to read the Bible, how to pray and how to baptize someone. In the process parents discover whether they need to take that step of faith.
As the families take that step, grow and learn together, mom and dad get the opportunity to baptize their children. How awesome is that?
An example of this is when one of the guys I am discipling said his daughter was thinking about being baptized. I immediately responded, “Awesome. And you’re going to get to baptize her.” I can still see the look on his face to that statement. You would have thought I kicked a puppy.
I was able to disciple and lead him in that conversation and he was able to disciple and lead his daughter.
This is the opportunity we must see as disciple makers. We must see that parents are in the position to be the lead disciple makers of their family. Imagine the impact in a family, neighborhood and community if we were to multiply our efforts for disciple making through the family.
Here are some questions to ask when it comes to disciple making and the family.
How does this shift your disciple making strategy?
How do you disciple families in your context?