Disciple-making always takes time, and as parents, our task is to recognize and take advantage of the daily opportunities God gives us in each season of parenting.
The “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast is a family discipleship resource from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina that aims to equip you and your family to be on mission with God, to the end of the street and the ends of the earth.
Welcome back to another episode of “Gospel Shaped Home.” I’m Andy Owens, Pastor of Family Discipleship here at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Glad you tuned in for this episode. Today, we’re going through our family discipleship pathway, which is a tool to help you be a disciple-maker in the home, think about parenting as disciple-making, and specifically talking about four seasons of opportunity. Four seasons of opportunity.
Now, before I dive in today, I want to tell you about one Greek word. I don’t normally talk about words in other languages on this podcast, but I think there’s some helpful insight from understanding this Greek word, kairos, in the New Testament. Now it means time or opportunity. And the only reason knowing that this word kairos can mean time or opportunity is this, time is opportunity. Time with your kids is opportunity to invest in your kids. Discipleship always requires time. When Jesus said about his work of making disciples, he chose 12 men, this is from Mark 3:14, “So that they might be with him.” He spent a lot of time with them over the next three years. Paul, when he was writing back to some of his former disciples in Philippi, he said, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things. And the God of peace will be with you.”
For the followers of Jesus, in Philippi, to learn things from Paul, to receive a pattern of life from Paul, and to hear truth from Paul’s mouth, and especially to see that truth lived out in his life, they had to spend time with Paul. Probably some significant time. My family and I, we lived for seven and a half years in central Asia, and our primary reason for being there was to make disciples of the Lord Jesus. And we were always looking for ways to spend time with people, with the local people there. And specifically, we wanted to spend time with them in ways that wasn’t disconnected from real life, from everyday life. There’s a lot of benefit in meeting for coffee, meeting for a meal, meeting for tea, and opening the Bible and talking through things together. But there’s also tremendous opportunity in having those conversations in the rhythms of daily life.
And really because the goal of discipleship is to invest, to give not only the gospel, but our own selves, our own lives to others, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2. So parents, you have a uniquely significant amount of time. You have so much opportunity to invest in your children. And disciple makers in other contexts would love to have that time to invest in people they are discipling and caring for and raising up like you have with your kids.
But on the other hand, this precious commodity, this sought after opportunity is not unlimited. We know that. And it’s so interesting the way when you’re looking ahead, like if you’re a parent in a hard season, maybe you’re waking up a lot in the night to care for a young, for a baby or a toddler. The season may feel like it’s never going to end, but when you look back on time, it always feels like it’s gone so fast and you don’t know where it went. In this idea of four seasons of opportunity there’s really built on that foundational idea that time is really important for discipleship and that you uniquely have a lot of time to invest in your kids.
There’s really two separate ideas. One is at a micro level. There’s just opportunities every day. And I’m going to list four and you’ve probably already heard this. I include it in a lot of emails and say it all the time, but think about morning time, drive time, meal time, bedtime. These are rhythms that most of us have, some or all of them, most of our days. And so you can just begin to think, “How can I utilize these opportunities to invest God’s truth in my children? To model for them the life of a disciple of Jesus?” It may be that you pick one of those things like a meal time or bedtime or morning time to have a family worship time where you daily, or a couple times a week, sit down and open God’s word. You sing His praise and you pray together as a family, but it also may be other smaller investments.
One of the things that we do as a family regularly is if we’re going somewhere and there are other people there, we pray for those people on the way there in the car. So here’s a good drive time idea is you’re on the way to school, pray for your teachers. Pray for the specialist teachers you have that day. Pray for other classmates. If you’re going to gymnastics or to an art lesson, pray for other kids there, pray for the instructors there, other families there. If you’re going to visit another family, you can pray for them on the way. If you’re coming to a gathering at the church, you can pray for some of the pastors or leaders in the church.
Another thing we do in the car, especially if it’s a longer trip, but not just long trips, is we’ll sing. Have a little family hymnbook, print out a few songs you like to sing, and have a copy for everyone in the car, or have a CD in the car and sing on your drive time. Make it a part of your routine.
You may read other books with your kids at bedtime. And not every investment has to be overtly spiritual to be cultivating your discipling relationship with your kids. You can tickle, you can wrestle, you can build forts, you can throw a Frisbee, shoot basketball, you can exercise together. The key is to not let distractions, anxieties, the busyness of life, rob you of these precious opportunities you have with your kids. Enjoy. Not don’t just spend time, enjoy lots of time with your kids. Pray, like Moses, teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
So every day is full of opportunities. Pray that God would help you recognize them and make the best use of them. Morning time, drive time, meal time, bedtime is just a kind of a rubric for thinking about normal rhythms of your day and every week.
But then we also recognize spending time with a two year old is different than spending time with a 12 year old or a 16 year old. And so we also think about seasons. Four seasons of opportunity. So we, at church, we have our kids’ ministry and student ministries divided up into these four seasons, really birth through pre-K. So especially thinking toddler, preschool years. Then you have elementary season. Then you have middle school, and high school. So what we’re doing as a church family is trying to think strategically, how can we from, say two to 18, teach and train the children in our church so that when they go off into the world, whether they go off into the workforce or go off to further school after high school, we can say, “We didn’t shrink back from declaring to you anything that was profitable. We declare to the whole counsel of God.”
So we’re trying to develop a scope and sequence for teaching them the breadth and width of the Bible, teaching them the main contours of God’s story, of redemption, of who He is and who we are, created in His image and fallen through sin, but redeemed by faith in Christ, who Christ is and how Ge accomplished our redemption, what the church is, why we need the Bible, what God’s mission is and how we can be a part of it. All these sorts of things. We’re trying to think through a plan as a church, but we also want to give you resources in each of these seasons to be training your kids in the home. So whether it’s through emails or through the website or through gatherings and whatnot, we really want to give you tools that are age appropriate in each of these seasons to be the primary disciple makers. Just because we’re thinking of a plan of how we organize our time and our teaching plan on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings doesn’t mean we’re in the driver’s seat. We want you as parents to be in the driver’s seat in each of these seasons. And we just want to give you a good, curated list of trusted, helpful, resources to use to make the best use of the opportunities that you have.
So again, four seasons of opportunity. The main idea, the big idea, is take advantage of the time that the Lord has given you to invest in your kids. You can’t meaningfully disciple, invest in, your children apart from significant time spent together. So recognize distractions, fight against them, plead with the Lord to give you wisdom. And then we’ll be able to do what Paul says in Ephesians 5 in 15 and 16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” We want to train our children to live for that kingdom that will last forever, and so we have to take advantage of the moments God gives us here and now. So may He give us this wisdom. And again, I want to thank you for joining and hope to catch you on the next episode. Bye.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast produced by Providence Baptist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information and resources from Providence, visit us online at pray.org. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.