According to Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and Ephesians 6:4—and elsewhere!—parents are entrusted by God with the task of raising their kids with the knowledge of Him and His ways. This is an intimidating task for any of us; we can all use a little bit of help along the way. I was pleased to receive a copy of Matt Chandler and Andy Griffin’s Family Discipleship as part of the Crossway Blog Review Program for this very reason. Family Discipleship is pleasantly short and practically oriented, so I can see it being helpful to many families that are thinking through what intentional family discipleship looks like for their family.
Family Discipleship is intended not just to be read but worked through, so it has reflection and application questions and charts at the end of each chapter to help a parent plan intentional discipleship. Chandler and Griffin also intend it to be used in a context of accountability, perhaps with a mentor family or peer group. They focus on three aspects they identify in solid family discipleship: time, moments, and milestones. Before unpacking what they mean with these and how they function within family discipleship, Chapters 1-3 lay a foundation. In Chapter 1, Chandler and Griffin explain the “what” of family discipleship, defining it as “leading your home by doing whatever you can whenever you can to help your family become friends and followers of Jesus Christ” (30). They emphasize that it is necessary, important, and requires intentionality, but it is neither a burdensome nor extraordinary call. In Chapter 2, they lay a Biblical framework for this task. In Chapter 3, they begin their proposal by discussing the personal lives of the parent; family discipleship begins with modelling. In Chapter 4, they take up the first of their three aspects of family discipleship, time. Family discipleship involves “creating intentional time built into the rhythm of the family’s life for the purpose of thinking about, talking about, and living the gospel” (87). The two components of time they stress are intentionality and rhythm; discipleship requires parents to plan gospel-centred time together regularly. Discipleship time includes Bible story or devotional routines, attending to a church gathering together, home group, etc. In Chapter 5, they address moments, which are the opportunities in everyday life to create Gospel conversations. They see the goal of these spontaneous moments as communicating the character of God and what it looks like to have godly character. In the final chapter, Chandler and Griffin discuss how celebrating significant milestones in a family’s life can foster spiritual growth in the family. They define a milestone as “an event or change that is so important or profound that it is worthy of recurring reflection” (136). These moments are “a tremendous opportunity to extend the discipleship process to your child’s extended family, friends, neighbors, and biblical community” (136). Two types of milestones they identify, those that are made to “commemorate, celebrate, or commend spiritual growth” (139) and those that mark a significant event, “appreciating God and his unpredictable work as you recognize it in your family” (139).
For the family who has not yet thought about family discipleship or those that see its value but are struggling to implement a strategy, this book will prove to be a great help. The foundation laid in the first couple chapters serve well to show the need of intentional discipleship, and the later chapters give many helpful and practical ideas for pursuing a discipleship strategy and implementing it in your family’s situation.