The goal for us as Christian parents is to see our children receive Christ, grow in spiritual maturity, and serve God with all their hearts for the rest of their lives. While not every child of Christian parents will do that, by God’s grace many will. Parents, do not neglect the prime area of making disciples. Pray for your children. Model the gospel through your marriage relationship. Lead your children to honor God in the church context. Talk frequently with your children. And involve them in ministry with you.
The first God-ordained institution is the home. Adam and Eve formed the first marriage, and they subsequently had children. A man and woman getting married and having children is the pattern set for Christians still today. While unregenerate people follow this same pattern, Christians are able to follow it in a more significant way. By this I mean that we have the opportunity not only to bear children, but also to disciple our children towards a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The general mandate which we call “The Great Commission” is given for all Christians to follow. Each of us are expected to do our part in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Within that greater mandate, God gives Christian parents the mandate to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). Unbelievers cannot do this as they do not have Christ as their Savior, nor his Spirit to indwell and empower them. Christian parents are uniquely positioned to not only make, but also to mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the glory of God within the confines of their own homes. Our children are our primary—though not only—mission field.
While home-based disciple-making might be assumed to take place within a home, I am not always convinced that Christian parents are giving it the kind of attention that it demands and deserves. Christians are looking outside the family for people they can seek to win to Christ and disciple—and that is not a bad thing. However, if we do that to the neglect of our own children, that is problematic.
Christian parents are uniquely positioned, equipped, and mandated to strive to bring their children up to be God-glorifying, Spirit-controlled disciples of Jesus Christ. How can we do that?
Cultivate a God-honoring Marriage
A home consists of husband and wife before children come along. A man and wife make vows to one another that they will never make to their own children. Ephesians five and six gives more attention to the husband/wife relationship than it does the parent/child relationship. In that passage, a marriage is meant to be a visible illustration of Christ’s sacrificial love for his church, and the church’s loving and willing submission to Christ. In other words, marriage is a picture of the gospel.
One of the most powerful evangelistic tools a Christian married couple has is the example of their own marriage. Your marriage will be something that supports and points your children to the beauty of the gospel, or it will be something that paints for them an ugly picture of the gospel.