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Discipleship In the Home

 

Church is boring.”  “It doesn’t do anything for me.”  I don’t want to go anymore.”  “Aren’t I old enough to decide for myself if I wanna go?”

Sound familiar?  It’s not uncommon.  If you’ve heard this from your teen, don’t be too surprised and don’t feel alone.  And don’t panic.  “Oh, he’s bored!  I need to find some razzle-dazzle teen ministry that will keep up his interest!”  No.  Razzle-dazzle doesn’t keep up interest, it replaces interest with entertaining distractions.  The bored teen will likely prefer entertainment to genuine spiritual endeavors, but when he leaves home, having his heart trained to expect razzle-dazzle, the world, whose razzle is superior to the church’s dazzle, will own him.  In spiritual matters, you cannot cure boredom with entertainment.  It can only be cured by learning to serve Christ intentionally -- with purpose.  In other words, by discipleship.

The Great Commission challenges us to make disciples of all nations.  It’s best we start at home.  Are you discipling your Christian teen?  Sometimes the verses about bringing up our children in the nurture and discipline of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) get set aside in the teen years.  I’m not sure why this happens, but perhaps we get too caught up in battles at that age over other things, or we mistakenly think they are mature enough at 15 to figure it all out for themselves, or we foolishly think Youth Group will cover all the bases for us.  Be warned.  Studies show that most of those raised in Christian homes make a decision to reject or follow Jesus before they go out into the world.  Most who fall away in college already fell away in their hearts while at home.  Letting teens wander spiritually without intentional Christ-centered input from godly parents is the worst kind of neglect.

The teen years are a wonderful, if challenging, time in life.  Thinking, questioning, doubting, and testing begin in earnest in the Junior High years, sometimes sooner.  In the High School years, a view of life is forming, and decisions are being made.  These are not bad things in themselves.  It does mean our discipleship changes to adapt to their questions, their surging hormones, and their desire to know what’s real and what isn’t.  They are born sinners, so pride is there, too.  They lack experience.  They don’t know much, but they think they do.  And our godless culture assaults them at every turn.  They need guidance at this critical time.  God has created families so the parents are the primary disciplers in a teen’s life.

Would a true Christian ever say he or she is bored by church?  Possibly.  Teens tire easily, and it shows up (yawn) when they don’t connect with what’s going on.  Modern teens, especially, are shaped by our mass media culture and technology to be bored easily.  They are far more readily and continuously plugged in than in my dinosaur days.  And if they are not taught and shown what church is all about, it’s possible a teen who loves God doesn’t really see the benefit of church attendance.

To appreciate church, one needs to understand what is going on.  Your teen may not have learned the how of corporate prayer, worship, and listening to sermons or lectures.  This is where discipleship comes in.  Make the effort to explain how corporate prayer works.  Someone else is praying while we listen.  What are we doing?  We are serving that person or need by praying along -- affirming the words we hear or using our own.  On our part, it takes love to be willing to bear another’s need in prayer, and concentration to stay with it.  God assures us the prayers of the righteous can “accomplish much” (James 5:16).  Nothing boring about great accomplishments!

Have you taught your children the power of prayer?

Worship is offered to God.  It’s not just singing along.  The worshiper realizes that he/she is addressing God.  This must be done consciously.  Some songs are more about God than to God, or about the Gospel, or about Christian living or holy aspirations.  These songs are a way to encourage those around us by affirming out loud things that are true. Eph 5:19 tells us we teach and admonish one another in song.  Think about the opening words of some randomly selected hymns:

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, pilgrim in this weary land.

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise.

When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died…

Search me, O God, and know my heart to today.

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on Thy side.

Are these not supremely worthy topics to share in and teach?

Many songs in worship we sing directly to God, which honors Him as He deserves, and some songs we sing to and with each other as a means of instruction in the faith.  The more heartily we sing, the more we encourage the emotions of praise in others, uplifting their souls in an affirmation of the truth.  The way you sing is as important as the way the pastor preaches…with enthusiasm for his topic, passion and faith.  So, remember…

  • God deserves our worship
  • We can instruct and encourage others in singing truth heartily

Have you taught your children about worship?

A sermon is an aid to understanding and learning to live God’s Word.  Since God’s word is “living and active,” a spirit-sword that cuts deep into our being (Heb 4:12), Christians need to let it shape them by engaging it with our hearts and minds.  The Word crushes our pride, reveals our sins, shows us our savior, makes sense of the world, answer’s life’s purpose, and is a sure guide for every day.  We need God’s word.  Christ also gave gifted teachers to help explain and apply it (Eph 4:11-13).  While it’s possible your teen is such an excellent, self-motivated Bible student that he can learn nothing from the instruction of older and more experienced men, it is probably not the case.

You can disciple your teen by explaining the importance of the Word taught and applied, and then help them develop listening skills.  Have them listen intentionally:

  • What was the main point of today’s sermon?
  • Why do you think that’s in the Bible?
  • How does the truth presented help you live for Christ?  Would it help someone else?  How?
  • Do you have any questions about the text that weren’t answered?

Parents should disciple their children with conversation and shared exploration.  You might want to model this by sharing your own thoughts on the sermon.  Teaching.  Modeling.  Engaging.  That’s discipleship.

Now all of this assumes your teen is born-again and loves the Lord.  But it could be those comments about boredom and deciding for oneself means your teen is not yet a Christian and is a once-born person.  That doesn’t negate all the above advice, but it means your purpose is evangelistic more than cultivating Christian growth.  So what if these comments come from an unsaved child?  We’ll look at that in the next edition of the Pony Express!

Yours in Christ

Pastor Wayne Wilson

Originally printed in The AFBC Pony Express. Vol. V, No. 8, August 2012.

 

“Give ear and come to me, hear me, that your soul may live.”

– Isaiah 55:3