We are currently studying American History in our homeschool, and recently finished a unit on the Puritans (or Pilgrims). It was inspiring to learn about how their faith gave them the vision and courage to make that journey to America and then continue to persevere in the new world despite suffering many hardships.
During one of our lessons my nine-year-old piped up, “It’s like God was their life theme”. Yes, it was pretty much exactly like that.
For the Puritans, there really was no separation between the spiritual and the secular. They taught their children how to read for the express purpose of reading and understanding the Bible. Their schools included religious teaching in everything from the alphabet to arithmetic.
The intent was for children to know God’s Word forwards and backwards, keeping Him and His commands at the forefront of their minds. Puritan parents took seriously the passing down of their faith to the next generation.
As mothers, we need to intentionally pour the Word of God into our children and teach them to obey it. This, in a nutshell, is discipleship.
It’s much more than just taking your kids to church on Sunday. It means that, like the Puritans, you’re making the Bible an integral part of their daily lives.
Since the beginning of his life, you’ve been teaching your child how to do all sorts of different things. He’s depended on your instruction from everything to talking to eating with utensils, to using the potty. He has been trained by you, through certain discipline, to obey rules.
Likewise, he needs to be taught how to follow Jesus. Your children may decide to accept Christ as their Savior after you talk to them about salvation, but they still need to learn what the Christian life looks like.
They need to know what the Scriptures say in order to actually obey what Jesus has commanded.
The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) doesn’t just apply to those on the foreign mission field or in full-time ministry. Us mamas can make disciples out of our kids. In fact, that’s one of the most important ways God’s Kingdom grows!
You have been in both relationship and communication with your child in the home, so you are best fitted to take relevant verses and apply them to his or her particular situation. This cannot be done by a Sunday school teacher or youth pastor who only sees your child for an hour or two each week.
Here are some ways that you can intentionally disciple your kids, and encourage them in their Christian walk:
Read the Bible with them.
This one seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? The key isn’t just to read a whole bunch of Bible stories to your kids though; it’s to use the Scriptures to teach their hearts to obey God.
The best way to do that is to draw out an exhortation from the text in order to correct them in some area and lead them to repentance. This is how you teach as you “walk by the way” (Deut. 6:7).
If your children have been exhibiting laziness in their chores or school work, you could use a verse such as Proverbs 6:6 to show how being slothful affects our physical and spiritual life. Use the example of the diligent little ants that the Scripture describes to point out that nobody is telling them to make the bed or do their homework. Then, you take a moment to encourage your kids to confess this sin and ask for God’s forgiveness
This is how you naturally, regularly integrate biblical teaching into your daily routines with your children. The Bible also becomes relevant to their everyday lives this way!
Go through a catechism together.
This is a more formal way of teaching biblical truth where the Word is “written on the doorposts and gates” (Deut. 6:9). Catechisms are basically a summary of the teachings of God’s Word. They help ground children and adults in theological truths and doctrine.
A great one for younger children is Leading Little Ones To God. With older kids you may want to use the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We don’t want our kids leaving home with giant gaps in their understanding of biblical truths so they are susceptible to “every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men” (Ephesians 4:14).
Teach them to memorize scripture.
Memorizing verses will help your children think about, or meditate on, God’s teachings. Memorization just for the sake of memorization doesn’t do much good, but when you encourage your child to hide the Word in his heart, it pays out great spiritual dividends. As they memorize Scripture, your kids are much better prepared to recognize lies from truth and apply the Word themselves to their circumstances.
Some good ways to have them commit verses to memory is with music! My kids love singing along to verses that have been put in a catchy song. It’s also extremely beneficial for them to copy (write out) Bible passages. In these ways, their hearts and minds are filled with God’s Word continually, making it “their theme”.
We’ve been given the primary responsibility for the discipleship of our children. Church is a wonderful supplement to what we as mothers can do in the home, but it should never be relied on as the sole source of discipleship.
If we have failed to be moved by the Word of God, how can we expect our children to be impressed by it?If we have failed to be moved by the Word of God, how can we expect our children to be… Click To Tweet
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Marisa is a homeschooling mom of two and author of Bucking The System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds For Christ, published in January 2016. She writes to encourage women to find purpose and joy in their God-given calling as mothers, helping them raise children with a biblical worldview. She relies on Jesus and coffee to get her through the day, and loves marveling at the cultural differences between New Jersey where she grew up and Oklahoma where her family has been transplanted! You can find more of her writings over at calledtomothering.com.