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What Does Discipleship for Children Look Like?

What Does it Look Like to Disciple Small Children?
Image by 'spud'

This week over at We Are That Family, it's backwards Works for Me Wednesday.

That means that instead of posting a useful tip to share, you present a problem that you need help with.

Now, why don't we do that every week?

I've got a whole lot more things that I need help figuring out than I have useful tips to share.

Actually, I love WFMW. So, perhaps everyone else could just continue to post their useful tips, and they could make an exception for me, who would always ask for help. Doesn't that sound like a plan?

I'd really like to know how to get the sticky spot off my sink where a label got stuck. How to exercise regularly in pregnancy when your sciatic nerve keeps acting up. How to kick eating sugar to the curb for good. How to get the darn wallpaper off my hallway walls. (It's so, so stuck on there. Sigh.) How to balance a spoon on my nose--I can roll my tongue, but this skill eludes me.

But there's a biggie that I've been struggling with lately. So, I'm pulling out the big guns. I'm laying it all out on the table with hopes that some of my regular readers or those who visit from WFMW can give me a little insight.

What in the world does it look like, practically speaking, to disciple a small child?

Note, I didn't say "discipline". I'm talking about the process of sharing the Gospel--teaching and training a child in the way he should go.

Those of you who have been reading regularly know that I'm a Christian. I see my main purpose in life as serving and loving the One who saved me, and my second to love, nurture and live the Gospel out to my family.

I get that I'm supposed to be teaching God's Word to my children. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) I understand that I'm supposed to love my children--affection, kindness, gentleness, consistency. (Titus 2:4) I know that I'm responsible (along with my husband, Keith) to build character, habits and truth into these little ones.

What I don't really understand is exactly what that is supposed to look like in the day to day.

What sorts of things am I supposed to be doing specifically, to pursue these goals? They aren't going to happen by accident and I have a distinct feeling that each day needs to have more focus on the end goal we have in mind.

I'd love, love, love to have this be a back and forth discussion. If you'd like to subscribe to the comments, that would be so fabulous! That way, if someone has a further question (me!), we can carry on like a conversation.

If you're seeking to honor the Lord by discipling your children, I would deeply appreciate any help and insight you might have on the topic.


It Feels Like Chaos said...

We do a weekly family devotional with a corresponding activity. I share on my blog each Sunday the topic, verse, discussion, and activity I use for my family of 3 young kids. I am new to doing family devotions but I'm loving that it is getting us together regularly as a family to discuss scripture and enjoy being together!

Raising Olives said...

We have 9 children and our main goal is to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We do this by reading the Bible to them and praying with them during family worship twice daily, both in the morning and in the evening.

We homeschool so that we can continue our conversation and disciplship all day long through all of our lessons.

We require them to read through the Bible once every year as soon as they are old enough to read. I posted about how and why we do that here http://raisingolives.com/?p=33

We also memorize a lot of scripture together as a family. I posted about our system for that as well.

This is an excellent question and I hope that these ideas will help a little.


Kirsty said...

Like "chaos" ;) we too have a Family Home Evening each week with gospel oriented topic with story, scripture, activity/game and of course the treat. We also have daily scripture study and prayer. I find these things make a huge difference to the spirit in our home. With that feeling in our home we have so many more opportunities to discuss things of eternal importance in a very natural way. Great question, I will be reading the other suggestions :) Thanks!

Mike said...

Love the photo. Very warm feeling created.


Twitter: AboutParenting

5intow said...

This is so important, I'm glad you got the number one spot this week, because I look forward to what others have to offer. For the last couple weeks I have been working through the topic of motherhood, and started with the discipling (hm, spell check doesn't like that word) aspect of it.

You are so right that while discipline is important, discipleship is what it is all about. First, I think I need to make sure I have a dynamic, genuine relationship with Christ. From what I read, it looks like you are there, and you have no idea what that in and of itself will accomplish. God works mightily even through our weaknesses, lack of organization, shortsightedness, forgetfulness, etc.

I don't want to fill your comments section too much, but I look forward to following along on the comments. I wrote more about this specifically here:


Holly said...

I'm afraid I don't have an answer for you, even though I should. But I will be checking in on the answers you get! Thanks for asking the question.

Heather@justdoingmybest said...

I see it as sprinkling your values and Truths into daily conversation with your children and not just waiting for the learning moments or discipline.

La said...

I'm so "there" right now! As I was reading your post I felt like I could have written the same exact things (just not as well!).

I just bought a One Year Bible devotional for kids by Josh McDowell. It has a daily passage along with a story to help illustrate the point of the day. It's not cheesy like some of the devotional books I've seen/used.

Our oldest son (8 years) is also doing a Bible study on developing responsibility. I have to say though that he's not being entirely responsible to take care of that on his own yet! =)

One thing I'm looking forward to starting very soon is teaching our kids the list of character qualities that the Duggar family uses (from the TLC show). I think we'll do one each week along with the scripture. These are just so rich with wisdom! Here's the link:


I look forward to following the comments since we're still figuring all of this stuff out too!

momstheword said...

There are some great helps out there. One book I have is called "Plants Grown Up." You can use it from age six until graduation even. It has reading, writing, Bible study and activities for all the character qualities that you hope to build in your child. This is just for boys though.

Mostly we relied on devotions and Bible time, and taking opportunity of life lessons to talk with our children about the values we wanted to instill in them.

At age 11 my husband also went through a book with them, talking about the teens years coming up, what they could expect, what we expect, and about what God expects.

Mostly, it's just setting aside the time to talk with them, keeping the communication open, taking advantage of teaching moments. Of course, taking them to church and modeling Christ for them is more of a blessing and impact than we know (until they grow up and talk about it).

For the wallpaper, I'll bet you could google a homemade remover!

Audra said...

Well, my one and only son is only 8 months so I'm starting super young! ;) I spend the day singing all kinds of church songs to him, whether they are the ones we sing during worship or the ones in the kids' bible classroom. I have a CD of songs that he listens to during his independent play while I cook or clean. I have a children's beginner bible I've tried to start reading him, but he's a little more interested in eating the pages right now. ;) We'll continue with that!

Leslie said...

Okay, it's funny you asked, this is something I am working on as well. I have learned SO MUCH from Lifestyle Homeschool I've printed everything out ;)

All I know to tell you is that it starts with a foundation of obedience (and I am just now learning that when my oldest is 9--wish I had known sooner)

I really suggest you visit Lifestyle Homeschool-she is so practical and inspirational-and backs everything up Biblically.

I am adding you to my blogroll- I've enjoyed reading your posts.

FromThe Creek said...

Sorry...nothing original here in our house! We have tried many different methods and I am currently on the lookout for another method for my son. What works for the girl...doesn't necessarily work for the boy. In fact, it almost never does!

Great topic though and I am checking out some of the others' suggestions!

Danielle said...

This link from shepherdpress blog might help a little. I really like their book Shepherding a Child's Heart


Brianna @ Heart(h) Management said...

Thanks so much, everyone! What I'm hearing many say is that a regular time of getting into God's Word is important. Which, of course, makes complete sense.

I remember feeling inspired by The Hiding Place book about Corie TenBoom (sp?). Her father read to them at each meal, I think. Look at the results in *that* family!

I also agree that it's about taking the opportunities of "teachable moments". And, of course, the more we are actually *with* our children, the more that can happen.

A friend pointed out to me (after I wrote this post) that one of the biggest things involved in discipling our children is modeling. Modeling in a genuine way what it truly means to have a relationship with our Savior.

I want to have them "catch" me spending time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word. I want our home to be filled with His Words coming from my own mouth as I speak truth to them daily.

I'm also thinking more that everything I do has to be in the context of the question, "how will this affect their souls?" This thought came from the book Feminine Appeal by Carolyn Mahaney very recently.

Everything needs to be about the salvation of our children. As the same friend I mentioned a moment ago said, "If we do everything else "right", but miss *this*, what does it matter?"

I think the problem I'm having mostly goes back to a priority imbalance. I'm spending too much time focusing on things that just.don't.matter.

In my own life and in the life of my family and and in the lives of my individual children.

Something needs to shift.

Keep the thoughts coming.

Stephanie said...

I am not a regular reader, I came over from WFMW but I really appreciate your heart. I too struggle with this and will share what God has been teaching me.

While I believe family Bible time is very important, it is too easy for me to put my faith in the "method" or the "time scheduled" and not in God to get the job done. I have been really drawn to Deut. 6:7-9 lately. Interjecting God in life all day long...joy in doing chores, creation we see, love for one another. 8 and 9 are where I struggle... living these things out infront of my kids. We have verses all over the house, but they will just be words to my kids if I they don't see God working me. Very humbling. I will pray the Lord will speak through the ideas/commets you get today.

Jenn @ Beautiful Calling said...

First, I literally laughed out loud about everyone else posting things and you asking for help every week. I really could join you. I am also impressed by your ability to balance a spoon!
I am planning to come back and follow all the links and suggestions because I could use help in this area too!

I do have something to share though. I use a learning poster. My 2 year olds are potty-training so we spend a lot of time in the bathroom. I used a peice of bristol board and made a little learning poster. One corner has our number of the week, one corner has a color, another a theme and the other a bible verse. I try to have our theme match the verse. While we are in there we put up pictures cut out of magazines etc that go in each catagory. This week are are learning Genesis 1:1 and talk about all the things that God made. This may be too elementry for you though. We've also done "children obey", "be kind" etc.

We also spend a lot of time singing in the day (our family sings too much for my husbands taste I think lol). We sing mostly sunday school songs. They love to sing and we are focused on Him and learning about Him while we do it.

caroline said...

I was thinking about ways I could do this a few weeks ago as well. I realized we as a family needed more than just church. So, my husband and I went to the Christian book store and looked at the Bibles they had for kids. We wanted something that was the full Bible, but in a language that the kids (2 and 5 at the time) could understand (at least our oldest). We found one that suited us and we've been reading one chapter a night after dinner and discussing it. My younger daughter isn't that interested, but we try to involve her in the conversation and as she gets a little older she'll participate more. I was inspired by a boy at our church who came up to me so happy because he got a new Bible. His Bible was geared more towards kids and had activities in it to coordinate with the passages.

As for the sticky spot in your sink, have you tried WD40? or Goo Gone? We always used steam for removing walpaper, but the surface under neath the paper was always something that a little bit of moisture wouldn't hurt.

Melissa@DropTheBabyWeight.com said...

Wow, so many good ideas! Our mothers' bible study is reading through A book by Sally Clarkson called "The Mission of Motherhood" -- it incorporates tons of ideas for shepherding children of all ages and has been very helpful.

That said, I think it's important to do what feels right for your family, and know that it's okay to pick and choose what works for you (our theme after all)! So if you are a more musical family you may love to sing songs and approach memorization of Scripture that way.

DarcyLee said...

How wonderful that you are seeking discipleship in your children's lives. Deuteronomy 6 is my very favorite passage when it comes to living out the Christian life in front of our children. My children are all grown or almost grown and I lean on these verses as well as Romans 10:17, "So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." From the time before they are born, our children can hear, so reading the Bible to them regularly is the very best thing to allow God to work in their souls. As a believer you will naturally live out the Word in front of your children, which will teach them how to behave. After that, just trust God to know what is best for your children. He has the plan.

Monica said...

You have a lot of great comments and suggestions here! I try to have a morning devotion with my children and we also read from The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes at night as well. I have also done some scripture memorization with them. I also think a key to doing this as well as teaching really anything is to model it in your own life. Let them see you live out your faith before them.

Mrs. Querido said...

I appreciate your request for wisdom in this area. And the only advice I can give you is get them into the Bible. We memorize a Scripture a week over here at the Potter's Hand household. The kids love it and I learn the Scriptures too! Our kids are 6,4 and 20 months (obviously the 20-month old doesn't memorize Scripture--but she is exposed to it) and the older boys soak it up like sponges.

The other advice I can give you is to be alert to teachable moments where you can insert a succinct but solid nugget of Biblical truth.

And pray with your children. Not just at bedtime, but encourage them to go to God in prayer for any little thing. He cares about anything that matters to us. :)


Brianna @ Heart(h) Management said...

Thanks for MORE great comments!

I'm hearing:

Be intentional.
Be alert.
Take advantage of teachable moments.
Make it a practice to be in the Word (study, memorization, worship songs).
Make it a lifestyle.
Be a woman who obeys her Lord. Live it out in front of them.

Good, good stuff.

Erin @ Closing Time said...

What a great question. As a mom of two little girls (ages 3 and 5), this is something I am very concerned about as well.

One thing I want to teach my children is that a relationship with God is not limited to Sunday morning. It is 24/7. Something that had a huge impact on me growing up was seeing my mom get up at 6:00 every morning to have quiet time with the Lord.

My older daughter reads her Bible with her daddy every evening before bed. This is a great opportunity for her to ask questions about God. We also memorize verses (even our 3 year old is doing great with this), one verse a week seems to work well.

I don't have all the answers, and nearly every day I feel that I have not done enough in this area. I pray for lots of grace and help from the Lord. He is faithful!

This is my first visit to your blog, and I really like it.

Have a blessed day.

Anonymous said...

This is an excellent question, and since I got this email a day later then the post, I guess I'm kinda late, lol.
I haven't read the above responses, but upon reading your dilemma, this is what I thought.

You are already doing it. The only thing I can think of suggesting is to just be sure you and your husband are showing Jesus to your children through YOUR everyday lives (interactions with each other, with others, and situations, etc). And one other thing you didn't mention, though you may already do it: pray regularly for your children. That the Holy Spirit draw their hearts to Him. We cannot change hearts, but we can guide them. After our guidance, we can pray for (or with) them, that their hearts would be changed by God.

I hope you are not more confused then helped by all these wonderful comments!

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