May 26, 2017
This is in the newsletter dated today from Chap Bettis; it’s not yet posted in his blog on the Apollos website, so I’m reproducing it here (just like the one below). It’s on a very timely topic.
Family Discipleship and the Summer
How does family discipleship fit into summer activities?
One simple response is to encourage natural intergenerational relationships.
Just this week, my 20 year-old son unexpectedly reminded me of an event that happened when he around seven.
That year I was participating in a midweek men’s Bible study. To break up the routine and to celebrate summer, we decided to have a cookout/pool party and then end with a time of prayer. We would also invite our sons to come.
In a low-key way, we cooked, swam, and prayed. (Oh yes, as dads we debated if they should get out of the pool because of the thunder!)
Not a Program
It wasn’t a program. We were just doing life together and wanted to included our children in that. They were expected to come and interact with the adults. Sure they had some swim time among themselves, but the focus was on intergenerational interaction. Dads were asking questions of a couple of young guys. The idea was relaxed discipleship and modeling.
We didn’t have a grand strategy as dads, we were just following Jesus and including our children in that journey.
When I asked my son what stands out about that time over ten years ago, he responded, “I was hanging out with the men. And it was just fellowship. As a pastor’s kid, we always had Bible studies, but this was just fellowship with men.” (It’s worth another article to think about the impact of children seeing adults study the Bible.)
Same Values, Different Idea
My wife did something similar when she had a number of the girls, their mothers, and some older women over for brunch. The stated goal was to hear from the women about how they met their husbands. She hoped to cast a vision for making Christ Lord in this area of their lives.
Again, this was not part of a grand strategy. It was just some women following Jesus and seeking to disciple their children in community with other sisters in Christ.
I am all for intentionality and having a church-wide family discipleship plan. But nothing will ever replace adults who want to disciple their children in the natural rhythms of life.
And certainly we were not the only ones doing this. Other parents would just naturally suggest something similar. For one it was a camping trip. For another, a ladies breakfast.
What Can You Do? What Have You Done?
As the summer kicks off, begin praying about how you can encourage some natural intergenerational ministry in your church.
Quick question: What have you already done that is similar to this? I would love to hear from you. I am always collecting ideas to pass on to others.
Grace and Peace,
May 12, 2017:
Dear Friends, I have just returned home from a week of enjoying my daughter’s college graduation and some much needed R & R. Truly, life is short. Was it only yesterday that she was a three year-old waltzing around, carrying lots of purses, and wearing her mom’s high heels?
But thinking about this week made me reflect on some principles I tried to apply to our family vacations and trips. I didn’t perfectly follow them and we certainly had our share of family meltdowns. But maybe you will find these principles helpful.
1. Remember a vacation and a family trip are two different things. I can’t remember where I heard this but it is key to managing my expectations. When you are taking young children along you are not going on vacation; you are going on a family trip. If I have expectations of complete rest on a trip with children I will become upset and angry. No, a family trip requires lots of service on my part. I may have moments of vacation. Or maybe my wife and I will take some time off later. But when the children are young, family trips require lots of work on my part.
2. Family Trips are a powerful opportunity to build family identity and family memories. For many years, we drove our young children down to Alabama to visit their grandparents. That 22 hour trip was exhausting. In the days before DVDs, we had to strategize about keeping them occupied (book time, game time, story time, etc). But when we talk about those trips now, our children have fond memories. Why? Our family was together having fun. That time in the car, even with the diaper explosions, was a great help in building family identity.
We are not just six individuals living under the same roof. The Lord has put us together as a family. Time away can help reinforce this truth.
3. Family Trips offer everyone a chance to develop a heart of service. To paraphrase Augustine, sin causes us to curve in on ourselves. And family trips magnify that curve. However, the unique challenges also give us a chance to grow in serving others. In addition, it is a chance to train our children in service as well. Older children can help with younger children. Everyone can help serve mom (or dad). We all can show honor to our grandparents. The natural self-centeredness I feel, my children feel also. We will need to fight that by the power of the Spirit.
4. Family Trips offer a chance to learn about the larger body of Christ. We tried to make it a habit to go to church on Sunday. Visiting churches in different parts of the country exposed our children to other believers. Did they complain sometimes? Of course. But it gave them a richer perspective and was teaching our values without trying.
5. Family trips need margin to succeed. How many times did I have to learn this the hard way? The bigger the ship, the more margin it takes. Something always goes wrong. I need to remember that I love my family by making sure we have plenty of margin. In addition to planning activities, unhurried conversations with my children were also valuable. And those only happened because we had margin.
6. Family trips give us a chance to express praise and thankfulness. No matter where we go or don’t go, having time off is an expression of God’s kindness. There are plenty of impoverished families around the world who cannot even think of taking time off. So no matter what goes wrong (and it will) my heart of praise and thankfulness is key. Family times together give us a chance to praise our Creator for his creation. And they give us a chance to deliberately express thankfulness for each in the family.
Family trips are not a break from discipleship. Rather, they are another God-given opportunity to love on your own family and develop your own Christlikeness. To coin a phrase – Don’t waste your family trip!
Family Discipleship + a resource you can download, including “The-Disciple-Making-Parent-Bonuses.” (includes “31 Ways to Pray for Your Children.”
The Blessings of Growing Up in a Christian Home
Spare the Rod, Spoil the Parent
12 Ways of Christmas Family Discipleship