“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7
Deuteronomy 6 is one of many passages (Psalm 78:1-10, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4, etc.) that lays out clearly that parents are to be the primary faith-trainers in their children’s lives. Yet, as Timothy Paul Jones explains in Family Ministry Field Guide, although most Christian parents know they have a responsibility for their children’s souls beyond getting them to church, it too often does not happen:
…The overwhelming majority of Christian parents are not actively engaged in any sort of battle for their children’s souls. When it comes to the process of discipling their progeny, most Christian parents–especially fathers–have abandoned the field.
If you as a parent are personally engaged in a process to transform the countours of your child’s soul, you are a minority.
However, I envision a time when Christian parents consistently engage in planned discipleship processes with their children. I eagerly anticipate an era when children regularly experience family worship times and spontaneous spiritual conversations. (25)
I do too. I long to see more and more parents actively engage in planned “faith talks” or Bible reading and prayer with their kids. I pray for parents to see that their lives 6 days a week speak louder than a sermon and Sunday School 1 day a week. I am constantly looking for ways that we as a church can partner with and equip parents to fulfill Deuteronomy 6 better. We are in this together. This is one reason I love Family Ministry.
I am grateful to be at the D6 Family Ministry Conference this week, learning from leaders like Dr. Timothy Paul Jones. Yet, as he reminded us today, Family Ministry is not ultimately about a program or plan. As anything in the church should be, it is about Christ.
Israel failed at following Deuteronomy 6–look at the book of Judges! We will fail too at impressing these things on our children if we try to do it in our own power. We need the good news of the Gospel. Deuteronomy 6 is meant to ultimately point families to Jesus, the only One who perfectly impresses the truth of God on hearts.