When it comes to the discipleship of the next generation, parents are primary, but the local church also has a crucial role to play. Training the next generation to trust and treasure the Savior really is a partnership between church and home.
The “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast is a family discipleship resource from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. It 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. And today I’m joined by no one. I’m really by myself recording this episode, but it’s planned. We’re going to take a break from our normal pattern of conversational episodes over the next few weeks, so that I can share with you, our listeners, about our family discipleship pathway. This is a tool that we hope will help you be disciple-makers in the home. So over the next few weeks, we’ll just walk through it. Today, we’re starting with one shared goal. That’s where it starts.
One shared goal, ready? The church and the home partner to lead the next generation to glorify God by introducing all people to Jesus Christ, and growing them up to love and worship him. So this goal between church and home is more than just teaching our kids the gospel. It’s certainly not less than teaching our kids the gospel, right? The incarnation of Jesus, his life, his death in our place, his burial, his resurrection, his ascension to the father’s right hand. The free offer of forgiveness by trusting in him. Our children’s need to hear this message for themselves, to respond in faith and repentance, to build their lives on God’s mercy and grace in Jesus is foundational. We can’t move beyond it. We can’t do any faithful discipleship in our home without it. But the point here is that family discipleship is not just about our kids hearing and believing the gospel.
It really is about God’s praise in all the earth. From their earliest days, we want to both introduce, church and home, partnered together, introduce our kids to God through Christ. But also to his mission and help them see their whole lives in light of God’s great story of redemption for all nations throughout the generations. So in a sense, it’s about the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, filling the earth as the waters cover the sea. That’s what family discipleship is about. That’s the goal of it. Now, when we say partnership between church and home, we mean that the parents are in the driver’s seat, right? It’s not, hey, bring your kids to church so that they’ll become Christians, or they’ll become passionate disciples of Jesus. As if you take your child to school to get an education, to the Y or some soccer club to learn soccer or some other sport, and you take them to church to learn Christianity. The gospel and spiritual formation is too important to contract out to anyone else.
And so, as a church, we want to say to you, parents, you’re in the driver’s seat. Now, there are lots of places in the Bible we could go to hear that, but I want to read a few verses from Psalm 78. These are the first eight verses of Psalm 78. It’s a maskil of Asaph.
“Give ear, oh my people to my teaching. Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable. I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn. And arise, and tell them to their children so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments. And that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
Now in these verses, we see Asaph recounting truths that he and his generation learned from their fathers. We see that in verse three, that they learned them in order that they might not hide them from their children, right, but tell the coming generation. But the goal of that, of telling the coming generation, is so that a generation not yet born, children yet unborn would hear, and one day arise and tell them to their children. So God intends his truth to be passed down from generation to generation. And the goal is also clear here in Psalm 78. It’s stated both negatively and positively. It’s so that they wouldn’t forget the works of God. So that the next generation wouldn’t be stubborn and rebellious and faithless, but rather that they would set their hope in God. And so both from Psalm 78 and from other passages in scripture, which we’ll consider over the course of the next few weeks, God intends for this stewardship of the gospel, this precious treasure of the gospel to be passed on generation to generation, especially in the context of family, right?
God intends family to be a haven of nurture and training where parents represent God’s good and loving authority to their children. Where parents train their children in God’s truth. So listeners, if you hear and remember one thing from this, I think for us, as followers of Jesus, parenting is disciple-making. I like to use the illustration of a baton in a relay race. I ran track in high school, and I didn’t actually run track. I pole vaulted. I ran a very short distance down to a pole vaulting bit, but I did watch a lot of other people run. And I really enjoyed watching the relay races. The team I was on, we had really, really fast sprinters and good relay teams. And the thing was about a relay race, no matter how fast you were, you had to successfully navigate the transition of passing off the baton to the next runner if you were going to win the race, right. You have to make sure it’s securely passed on before you let go.
And in a sense, that’s how it is for us as disciples of Jesus, right? To be faithful followers of Christ, we have to do more than just hold on to the gospel. We do have to hold onto the gospel, but we have to pass it on to others. The gospel, when it came to us, is always on its way to someone else. And for parents, of course, we want to pass that on to our children. If we’re calling others to find treasure in Christ, how much more are we to want our own children to find treasure in Christ, to put their hope in God? So for the follower of Jesus parenting is disciple-making in the home. But parenting in a fallen world under a curse of thorns and full of futility is hard, right? We get weary, we get discouraged, we get overwhelmed. It seems like endless complexity to our lives, and there’s so many things to think about between finances, and education, and extracurricular activities, and technology, and relationships.
And so in the midst of all this, how do we teach our kids to put their hope in God? How do we pass the gospel on faithfully to the next generation? And that’s why it’s a partnership. God knows our need, and he provides help through the local church, right? We can’t pass on the gospel to our kids if we aren’t walking as disciples and growing as disciples ourselves. And we can’t be walking as fruitful disciples if we aren’t meaningfully connected to other believers in the local church, right? We need the ministry of other believers to remind us of God’s faithfulness of his promise of his presence.
We need to be guarded against the deceitfulness of sin. We need to be stirred up to love and good deeds. We need to be encouraged, and we also need resources and tools. And so that’s one of the things we really hope to do as a family discipleship ministry, is to give you, parents, caretakers, good resources for teaching the gospel. For celebrating God’s love, for doing family worship, for singing together as a family, but also providing ideas and encouragement, and avenues for serving together as a family, and living on mission together as a family. So I like to say that if parents are God’s primary avenue for getting the gospel to kids, the church is the primary avenue for getting the gospel to the world. So in a sense, every parent’s ministry to his or her kids is a part of the church’s mission to get the gospel to all the peoples of the earth.
You can’t do it alone. None of us are an island, but you don’t need to, right. God has provided help in the local church. And really when it comes to our kids, hearing the gospel and seeing the gospel lived out, yes, we want it first and foremost to be from mom and dad. But I want it really, the more the merrier when it comes to gospel influence in our kids’ lives, right? We want them to hear it from as many voices as they can. And we want them to see the gospel transforming lives in other people’s families, and people with different age and life stage. So I’m training the next generation to trust the savior, to follow him, to live on mission with God really is a partnership between church and home. And in the next episode, we’ll dive in a little more to what that can look like. So thank you for joining, and we’ll see you next time.
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.