When Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” it starts in the living room. For most of us, the primary callings that we have take place in our home. We are called to be husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister. As parents, the calling to be a father or mother is not only a call for physical provision and protection, but it is a call to make disciples. The most important goal that I have as a dad is to raise my kids to believe the Gospel. As a dad, before I can ever worry about preaching the Gospel in my church or neighborhood, I need to preach the Gospel under my own roof.
Baptizing, Teaching, and Pure Chaos
One of the things that is incredible about Jesus’ instructions to make disciples is that he also gives us some clear instructions of how we should do that. How do we make disciples? By baptizing and teaching. Ideally, if your kids are being raised in a Christian home we baptize and then we teach, but for a variety of reasons (some because of different systems of belief) others will end up discipling their kids by teaching and later baptizing.
The command is the same, baptize and teach, it’s not one or the other but both. And it doesn’t seem to suggest that the teaching needs to wait until they are old enough to understand. For us, we started the teaching in the hospital after they were born as we read the Jesus Storybook Bible together for the first time. And this is significant, because if I believe that God works in his word, you better believe that God was very active in the hospital as we opened the scriptures together for the first time.
As both of my kids were baptized, Paul says, "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” They have been clothed with Christ.
And so now I teach my kids. I teach in the midst of conversations and bed time stories. I teach in the songs we sing and the prayers we say. And likely even more importantly, I teach by what my kids see me do. As I disciple my kids, I do anything and everything to remind my kids of who they are in Christ.
But here’s the other small little detail about this.
Discipling in the living room is messy. Because the living room, at least in our family, is usually a disaster. Toys end up everywhere. At times we have couches lined with extra sheets to protect the cushions from vomit. Kids are wrestling each other or having a meltdown.
And in the midst of it, my wife and I have a sacred calling. To find a way in the midst of the mess to love our kids, to care for our kids, and help teach our kids the Gospel. We disciple them in the midst of the chaos that is colds, tantrums, and dirty diapers. We teach them, sometimes with the words we say and other times simply in the way we do life as a family.
If God has given you children, God has also called you to be a disciple-maker in your own living room.