My husband, Brandon, baptized our seven-year-old this year, and I ugly cried like no crier has ever uglied before. At one point, and I know this is true because there’s video, my face looked the way Chewbacca’s voice sounds, but you know, also mixed with maternal appreciation of the moment. So, it’s been a really special season, watching our Ever Grace come to Christ and take an interest in walking with Him.
Brandon and I attempt to be intentional about how we nudge the three little hearts we shepherd toward the gospel. So there are a number of discipleship rhythms we’ve incorporated into our family life, but summer can be kind of a weird time for it. When schedules are loosey-goosey and hands are sticky and hair is more frequently washed with chlorine than shampoo, it can be more difficult to stick to a plan.
That being said, summer is good time to develop and reevaluate family discipleship rhythms, because with less rushing and more time to spare, you can begin new habits and commit more energy to moments that might lead to future gospel-fueled Chewbacca impressions.
Here are a few things to think about as you prioritize discipleship in your home this summer:
Tailor Your Teaching Moments
My kids are so different.
Ever is high-achieving and sharp and full of energy. Joy, our adopted five-year-old, is deaf and uses sign language and is just figuring out life with limited communication skills. Meanwhile, my three-year-old, who we call “Dewy,” asks questions such as, “Does Jesus have a tail?” and “Do Jesuses bite?” She also claims that she doesn’t want to follow Jesus because she’s scared of water and thinks that following Jesus is 100% about being dunked in the water in front of the church.
All this to say, not only are their ages different, but so are their temperaments, their histories, their maturity levels, and their abilities to grasp the gospel.
So as parents hoping to push our kids’ hearts toward Jesus, we need tailored discipleship moments.
During the summer, when time is freer and activities are more outside-centric, you might serve breakfasts on a picnic blanket on the porch while you read to your younger kids from a children’s storybook Bible (love this one). Or maybe while your baby naps in the afternoon, you can start taking your older kids on “discipleship” walks outside in the yard. There, you can answer the deeper questions from the Bible story you discussed earlier.
My go-to strategy with my youngest is just to get Bible truth into her head. I love Seeds of Worship, albums of Scripture put to music, for kids. Dewy might think Jesuses bite, but she can quote Psalm 63:1-4 because she knows the song. This is something easy to do every day this time of year.
Look at each of your children and where they are. Meet them there and tailor discipleship opportunities.
Attempt What You Teach
If our kids don’t see our lives modeling the truths we teach them, it will be no surprise for them to become adults who depart from the faith. If we say Jesus changes lives, but we’re not letting Him change ours, our kids might grow up to reject everything we’ve taught them.
Our kids need to see us making Christlikeness a priority in our own lives. They need to see us serving our local churches (1 Peter 4:10-11) and seeking wisdom from older women and mentoring younger ones (Titus 2). They need to see us sharing the gospel with strangers and apologizing to our family when we fail them. Because we do, and we will.
In your discipleship moments with your children this summer, share how you are trying to grow and where you are struggling to grow.
Ground Each Moment in the Gospel
We all fail, you guys. We can memorize every Seeds of Worship song, explain every Bible story expertly, and turn every backyard sprinkler session into a toddler revival, but we won’t do everything perfectly. And our kids need to know that. They need to see us try, but they need to know that none of us can try enough. We can’t discipleship our way to perfection. And thanks to Jesus, that’s not our job anyway. Our job is to walk with Him and direct our children’s eyes to the flawless Jesus, even while they live with very flawed moms. He will handle the perfection.
How cool that “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6
Remind your kids each day of the good news and the good work it is doing in you so that they can learn to rest in the right things.
Scarlet Hiltibidal is the author of Afraid of All the Things, coming in January 2019. She loves sign language with her daughters, nachos by herself, writing for her friends, and learning to be a pretend-farmer with her husband in Middle Tennessee. She treasures the freedom of resting in the work of Jesus and hopes to help others rest as well. Follow her on Instagram @scarlethiltibidal and visit her blog at www.scarlethiltibidal.com.