Along the Way: Everyday Discipleship
by Amy Diller

As Christian parents, our heart’s cry is to see our children become fully committed disciples of Jesus. Our influence is vitally important in guiding our kids in learning about, loving, and growing closer to Him. When we hear terms like discipleship, we might feel intimidated and ill-equipped to teach our children, sometimes because we simply don’t know what it means. Defining a term often takes away the intimidation factor as we take a deep breath and realize, “Oh, that’s what that means.” According to, a disciple is “one who puts Jesus first, obeys the Lord, produces good fruit, loves others, and makes more disciples.” That sounds much more doable, doesn’t it? 

The Lord designed the family to be the primary place where faith is passed on through regular, simple, everyday moments lived together. While we continue to deepen our own relationship with Jesus in front of our kids, we will find many opportunities to model things a disciple does and teach them what we’re learning. It’s in “along the way” places where we put our faith into practice. 

Day-to-Day Faith
We often refer to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 when we talk about parents spiritually leading their children. These verses first instruct us to focus on loving God with every part of our own being. He is worthy of our full dedication. As we live a life committed to serving and honoring Him for who He is and what He’s done, only then can we pour into teaching our children to do the same. 

These verses in Deuteronomy 6 also tell us how to pass on our faith. The beautiful thing is that it’s an everyday, along-the-way kind of modeling and teaching. Too often, we think discipling our children requires us to have a Bible scholar level of understanding before we can teach our kids. Instead, God asks us to seek Him in such a way that our personal faith and devotion to Him are evident in the day-to-day aspects of our lives. Out of our own experience, we can share with our kids what we’re learning and how we live as disciples of Jesus. 

The kind of discipleship of children we read about in Deuteronomy 6 is woven into the rhythm of our daily lives. When our kids wake up, when we sit down for meals, when we’re driving in the car, and when we get ready for bed are all points in the day where we can infuse our faith into what we do as a family. We can sing worship songs while getting ready in the morning, pray on the way to school, talk about how we saw evidence of God that day during dinner, and read a Bible story or passage before bed. Jesus demonstrated this kind of faith with His disciples along the way. They traveled together from place to place, ate meals, served others, visited friends and family, and worked. Jesus’s teaching was woven throughout their day-to-day activities. 

Open-Ended Questions
Throughout the Gospels, we see that Jesus asked a lot of questions as He taught and interacted with people. Very few of these questions elicited one-word responses. The questions Jesus asked were purposeful. They made people stop and think, caused them to examine their hearts and motives, and helped them understand what was most important. 

Sometimes we ask our kids questions hoping to start a conversation only to be met with one-word answers or silence. Most of the time, it’s not because they don’t want to talk. Their lack of response usually has more to do with the questions themselves. We’re used to asking short answer questions. How was your Sunday school class? Good. What was your lesson about? The burning bush. If we want to spark spiritual conversations, we need to get in the habit of asking open-ended questions that naturally invite more dialogue. We can try questions like What’s one thing that made your class good today? What does the story of Moses and the burning bush tell us about God? Questions that start with “Why do you think” and “How do you feel,” can keep the dialogue going. As we utilize questions as a teaching tool, our goal is to help our kids (and ourselves) think deeply about the God we serve. 

Teachable Moments
As we practice this “along the way” kind of discipleship, we should watch for and take advantage of teachable moments. These are times when it’s the most natural for learning to take place. Jesus demonstrated this kind of teaching. Feeding the 5000 is a great example of a teachable moment. The disciples wanted Jesus to send the crowds away to buy food for themselves. Instead, Jesus purposefully used the opportunity to teach them that He is more than able to provide both miraculously and abundantly. 

A lot of teachable moments present themselves when our kids ask questions. Asking questions about God, the church, doctrinal beliefs, the Bible, etc., is so important as it helps us build a firm foundation for our faith walk. God created us to be curious, to wonder, and to seek understanding. Kids especially know how to ask lots of questions. Fortunately, we don’t have to have all the answers, and we don’t have to answer right away. Phew! One of the best ways we can teach our kids to grow as followers of Jesus is to learn alongside them. When we don’t know how to respond to a question, we can model where and how to find wise answers – the Bible, other Christians, church leaders, and reliable sources online. When our kids pose questions and time doesn’t allow us to stop and explore the answers at the moment, we can affirm that what they’re wondering is important and set a time to talk later. As long as we come back to their questions, we’re allowing the ebb and flow of life to be a natural guide for having spiritual conversations. 

Teachable moments can also happen when we look for cues in our environment and activities that lend themselves to learning and growing together in our faith. As we’re driving, when we have to pull over to the side of the road to let an emergency vehicle pass, we can quickly pray along with our kids for the safety of the first responders and those who are sick, injured, or in danger. We can use walks or bike rides as a chance to spot and appreciate God’s handiwork in all aspects of nature. The TV shows we watch as a family, movies we see, and books we read with our kids often present opportunities to explore important topics and issues, look at what the Bible has to say, and identify godly traits and behaviors. 

By helping our kids learn to put Jesus first, obey Him, show evidence of godly traits, love others, and share the good news of salvation through everyday moments, we are encouraging them to grow as disciples. As we actively seek to connect what we and our kids experience during daily life to faith lessons, the Lord will be faithful to give us the wisdom, knowledge, and resources needed to regularly create space for spiritual growth as a family.