Take One Small Step: Discipling Your Children at Home
by Amy Diller

What kinds of things make you break out in a cold sweat? Perhaps it’s a fear of heights, snakes, or your child’s math homework? Maybe it’s finding yourself in an unfamiliar situation or with people you don’t know. Quite possibly, it’s hearing that you are your child’s most important spiritual leader, and you need to be discipling your children at home. If you haven’t heard those statements before (or you have and don’t know what to do with them), you could be feeling your palms getting sweaty right now. Before you skip over this article, take a deep breath, and keep reading. Discipleship at home doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. Whether you realize it or not, the Lord has uniquely equipped you to lead your children.

Sometimes the idea of discipling our kids seems overwhelming because we don’t exactly know what it means. Simply put, a disciple is a follower (student) who learns from the person they follow (teacher). Every parent is their child’s first and most important teacher. What we teach through words and actions, they will learn to follow. Discipleship at home begins with our own relationship with the Lord. The more our faith is evident in daily life, the more opportunities we give our kids to follow in God’s footsteps.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 talks about walking out our own faith and sharing it with our children. It says,

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

These verses give us the why and the when. The Lord deserves complete love from us, above all else, and it’s our job to set an example of that for our children. The when is every day, bringing the Lord into your family’s life through conversation, scripture, prayer, and praise.

Discipling your kids at home doesn’t have to be complicated, somber, or lengthy. It doesn’t require you to have gone to Bible college. You simply need a heart seeking after God. And you don’t have to do it all at once. Remember when your child was learning to walk? Your expectation wasn’t for them to walk across the room the first time they were up on their feet. You celebrated baby steps over time. It’s the same way when we lead our children spiritually; choose doable, small steps at a time.

Here are some ideas to help you as you become more intentional in leading your kids spiritually:

  • Pick a Bible verse to memorize together each week. Hang it in a place where everyone can see it and read it often. If your children are very young, they can learn verses through repetition, echoing you as you say the words.
  • Use car time strategically. Make it device free as you travel around town, and you’ll have a captive audience. Play worship music, scripture memory songs, or use the time to thank God for things you and your children all see along the way.
  • Set aside time for family devotions. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or sermon-like. Your children don’t have to sit perfectly quiet and still; expect wiggles and interruptions. It’s okay. Start with once a week – you can always add other days if it works for your family and the age of your children. There are many devotion books and Bibles for kids that you can read from, and you can ask your children’s or family pastor for recommendations.
  • Use mealtime to talk about where you saw God in your day. For example, a friend showing kindness to you, a beautifully painted sky, an unexpected gift…anything that you recognized the qualities of the Lord in or ways you demonstrated His character.
  • Invite questions from your kids any time of the day. Children are naturally curious and inquisitive about all kinds of things, including God and the Bible. Ask your kids to share their questions. Don’t feel like you have to have an answer for everything. Looking things up or asking a church leader to help is a great way to teach your kids to seek out trusted sources when you’re not sure about something.
  • Listen to and value your child’s input. They have a unique perspective when it comes to their personal faith and understanding of God. Affirm their thoughts, acknowledge when you learn something from them, and thank them for sharing what they know.
  • Morning and bedtime are precious moments to pray blessings over your children. Numbers 6:24-26 are wonderful words to use: ‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
  • Let your children see you reading the Bible and praying on a regular basis.
  • Attend church to show your kids the importance of biblical community.
  • Serve together as a family.

Sharing our walk with the Lord, leading our children, teaching them, and learning with them are all ways we disciple our kids at home. It may feel unfamiliar at first but don’t let that keep you from taking a step. As with anything, it will get easier with time and practice. Approach your role spiritually with your children as a joyful privilege. Embrace the fun and the deep conversations with your kids, and enjoy the journey. Understand, above all, that teaching your kids what it looks like to grow in faith and to become more like Jesus is the most important thing you can do for them.