Christian Family

What do you think of when you hear the word: Family? A lot of images begin to populate in your mind when you hear the term. For some, the ideal family pops into your mind. For others, a vastly different image arises that may bring about fear or hurt. Family is a trigger word. Yet, it is the word that the bible uses to describe two things: a community of faith, and the family unit.

Next, what do you think of when you hear the word parenting? Again, a lot of different images populate your mind. It could be the picture-perfect family walking hand-in-hand along a beach. Or it could be the chaos that really occurs! Ha! This word brings extreme joy for some and sheer torment for others. But, I want us to see that parenting is vitally important to the life of a child and their engagement with Christ. 

Today, we are going to talk about the Christian family and the role it plays in the life of a child. Our key takeaway is this: The family is the hub for everything that happens in the life of the church and the mission of God. 

Foundations is the biblical basis for this new culture we are attempting to create. Three scripture passages that form this argument are Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6, and Matthew 28. 

Deuteronomy 6:4–9, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 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. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.”

Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Matthew 28:18–20, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that commanded you. And behold, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”

In each of these three passages, we find that the family is at the center or the heart of the writer’s thought. 

I want to start by looking at two specific definitions. 

First, parenting. Paul David Tripp articulates parenting as the act of shepherding one’s child on God’s behalf. 

To be a shepherd, means we are leading someone somewhere. While we don’t usually see shepherds walking around leading their flocks anymore, we can draw from the imagery. A shepherd leads their flock to a specific place. And while they are on the journey, they navigate the terrain in the best way they know-how. They fend off wolves from getting to their flock. They go after a stray member of the flock. They look after and care for the well-being of their flock. They provide for their flock. 

In the same manner, parents are to do this for their children. We are leading them on behalf of God. Did you catch that? We are leading our children on behalf of God. Yes, that’s right. Our children do not belong to us. We are just stewards of them for a short amount of time. In our culture, kids become adults at age 18. So, if we want to go by those standards, we have 18 years to shape their minds, their skills, and their abilities to set them on a trajectory for success in life. What we do today to influence our children will impact them tomorrow in how they live, work and navigate the world. 

If we only have a short amount of time, then we must make sure that we do everything we can to point them in the right direction. What’s the right direction? Jesus. Plain and simple. Jesus is the right direction. As parents, we are shepherding our children on God’s behalf. He has entrusted us with their lives, and we are his instruments and tools. Are we allowing God to use us to influence our children for Him, or are we attempting to lead our children down a path that leads to heartache and trouble? 

Secondly, what is a Christian parent? Matt Flanagan, children and student ministry consultant for the Kentucky Baptist Convention define Christian parenting in a five-fold manner. 

  1. Born-again believers
  2. Connected and a part of the body of Christ through the local church
  3. Have a heart and ownership of the spiritual formation of their children
  4. Understanding the role is to equip and train their children
  5. Promised to execute the equipping and training of their children and watch over them through the process. 

Let’s unpack.

  1. Born-again believers. 

The gospel. Has the gospel transformed your life? This is foundational to being a Christian parent. We cannot shepherd our children on God’s behalf if we do not know God. We cannot lead our children somewhere that we have not been. We would not know where to begin. 

So I want to ask you, now. Do you have a relationship with the Lord? Do you know Him? Does he rule and reign over your life? Have you accepted His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? If you have, awesome! If you haven’t, this is the best thing you could ever do for yourself and your family. 

  1. Connected to a part of the body of Christ through the local church.

Being connected to the body of Christ through the local church is so key. This is where we find community. This is where we find belonging. This is where we learn, grow, and serve. This is where we gather with others to worship Jesus, and where we are sent into the world from. Being connected is key. 

Despite the global pandemic, we find ourselves in now, we can still be connected with each other. Don’t try to go about this alone. Time and time again, throughout the history of mankind, people always sought community with one another. The local church plays a vital role in the life of a child and also in the life of the parent. We must be connected to a community of faith. We are going to go more in-depth in another session on the role of the local church in the parenting journey. You won’t want to miss that. 

  1. Have a heart and ownership of the spiritual formation of their children.

Next, parents must have a heart and ownership of the spiritual formation of their children. Think about your job for a moment. When you are given ownership of something at work you take it and run with it. It’s “your baby”. You want to shape it, mold it, and form it to what you see as the best outcome. Now, think about your children. We must have that same enthusiasm for the spiritual formation of our children. Moms, dads, you should be just as excited to lead something at work as you are to lead your children in the ways of the Lord. This draws direct pathways from having a high-quality relationship with the Lord. Own the fact, that the bible is clear about who is responsible for leading and teaching our children the ways of God. 

  1.  Understanding the role is to equip and train their children.

What is your role as a parent? We oftentimes think it is to provide our children with the best clothes, best shoes, best games, education, extra activities, house, car, and the list goes on. Essentially, we think it is to provide our children with the American Dream. However, might we approach this a little differently? Sure, as parents we are to provide for our children the food, clothes, and shelter they need to live and thrive, but we don’t often view ourselves as equippers and trainers. We equip them and train them in other things like how to balance a checkbook, or how to change a flat tire. We need to change the scorecard. We need to not only teach our children about things that will help them in this age but also the ways of the Lord that have an eternal impact. If eternity hangs in the balance, I want to make sure that my children know who Christ is, and what He alone has accomplished for them, and then I want to equip and train my children to tell others about Him. Do you?

  1. Promised to execute the equipping and training of their children and watch over them through the process. 

If we know we should equip and train our children, then we must promise to execute and implement that in our daily lives. We must watch over them as they journey through life, or the time we have with them to show them the ways of Christ. 

These two definitions will travel with us as we continue this journey. These two definitions encompass the main focus of our time: The family is the hub for everything that happens in the life of the church and the mission of God. As a parent, we center our lives around Jesus and his work—loving God, loving others, and making disciples of all the nations. 

In our reflection time, I want to invite you to respond to these three questions:

  1. What is your vision for your family?
  2. What do you hope for your children and your family?
  3. How do you want to see your family succeed in the mission of Jesus?

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