What would I talk about if I had only one hour to talk with a group of parents? The dangers of failing to disciple their kids? Techniques, methods, and tools for home discipleship? Marriage?
As important as each of those is, I wouldn’t hit on any of them if I had only one hour. Instead, here is what I would do.
I would spend the first 55 minutes talking about loving God.
You read that right. I would spend almost all of my time talking about loving God, without even mentioning parenting. Why? Because it is what God Himself focused on, in what is widely considered the most important home discipleship passage in the Bible:
4 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates. — Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (CSB)
This passage is six verses long. Half of them address the parents’ relationship with God without reference to kids. The prerequisite for home discipleship is that the parent recognizes the unique glory of God (v. 4), loves God fully (v. 5), and cherishes Scripture (v. 6). Without this, nothing else matters. A parent can have the greatest techniques, methods, tools, and be consistent from day one. But if love for God is not driving discipleship, it is not discipleship. It is information transfer. And that is not what we are after. The devil knows doctrine. Discipleship is helping someone else love God as we have come to love Him. This is why Jesus said that Deuteronomy 6:5 is the greatest commandment in Scripture (see Matthew 22:34-40).
My goal, then, would be to draw the attention of every parent in that room to how amazing God is. Maybe some are newer to the faith and still coming to understand God’s glory. Maybe others have been Christians for decades and perhaps have become “too familiar” with God. I would want to help everyone, including me, take a step back and sit amazed in the presence of our holy God. To recall that the Creator knows us and loves us. That He slaughtered His own Son so that we might be forgiven of our sins. That in Christ, we are fully accepted by Him. That we will spend eternity worshiping, serving, and delighting in God. Like the church at Ephesus, I would want everyone to remember our first love (see Revelation 2:1-7).
I would spend the last 5 minutes talking about home discipleship being a gift.
Then, with our affections stirred anew for God, I would want to reposition home discipleship in those hearts and minds of the parents. While home discipleship is a responsibility, that is not how we should see it. It is a duty, but it is also a privilege. It’s a gift.
Home discipleship is more simple than we make it out to be: it is a parent sharing what he or she loves with a child he or she loves. I would want the parents to grasp the simplicity and beauty of home discipleship. We don’t have to share the gospel with our kids, we get to. We get to point our kids to the greatest good, God, Himself. Sharing a love for sports, or movies, or foods, or hobbies, or anything else with our kids is great. None of these are seen as chores. But they all pale in comparison to sharing God with our kids.
So when the clock rolls from 0:59 to 1:00, my hope would be that every parent leaves in awe of God and eager to talk with his or her kids about Him. Those other details are important, but they will all work out. If the parent is motivated.
Brian Dembowczyk served in the local church ministry for over 16 years. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.