Who bears the responsibility for the discipleship of the next generation? What are parents called to do? What is the role of the church? What is the relationship between the two?
That's the focus of the second of the seven commitments featured in the book Zealous: 7 Commitments for the Discipleship of the Next Generation.
In this 7-part series, we're spotlighting each commitment with a summary, an excerpt from the book, examples of applications of the commitment, and recommended resources.
Commitment 2: Foster a robust partnership between church and home.
God has called both the church and home to raise up the next generations to know, honor, and treasure God through Jesus Christ. This is accomplished through a strategic, loving partnership between the church and home. This partnership affirms that parents by proximity, opportunity, and God’s design, bear a unique responsibility for nurturing their children’s faith. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-7.) This partnership also affirms the role and responsibility of church leadership to provide encouragement and training for parents, as well as the formal instruction for children and youth.
[W]ho is responsible for the discipleship of the next generation[?] There are extremes on either side. Some say the church is solely responsible for the spiritual education and development of children. Others believe that responsibility rests entirely with parents and it is wrong for the church to step in where only parents belong. In their view, the only biblically warranted involvement the church should have is to exhort, instruct, and equip parents to fulfill their God-given responsibility.
Most parents and church leaders who have wrestled with this issue usually find themselves somewhere between these two extremes, tilting one direction or another. In many cases, the responsibility that the church and parents have for the spiritual development of children is ambiguous. How the home and church should relate and carry out this responsibility is seldom taught or discussed.
Sometimes parents assume their children are being discipled through the ministries of the church more than what is actually the case. Sometimes church leaders assume more is happening at home than is actually the case. In many cases, neither parents nor church leaders are giving much thought to the discipleship of the children, and even less thought to the nature of their responsibility.
Where there is a decline in the intentional, comprehensive discipleship at home and in the church, we shouldn’t be surprised to see a corresponding rise in biblical illiteracy for those who have grown up in these homes and churches.
- Work through the following "Five Ways Your Church Can Foster a Partnership with Parents" (which are detailed here)
- Clarify roles and expectations
- Provide parents Truth78 curricula GIFT pages
- Connect parents to the classroom experience
- Introduce parents to vision-casting resources
- Recommend discipleship resources for the home
- Teach a seminar to new parents impressing on them their God-given responsibility to be faithful faith nurturers of their children. Resource parents with effective faith-nurturing tools (e.g., stock a resource table with excellent resources for parents to purchase; resolve to purchase solid resources for the discipleship of the next generation for your church library; put a list of recommended resources on your website).
- Listen to the seminar "Involving Parents in the Classroom" and put some of the ideas into practice.
Work through the following "Seven Ways Parents Can Partner with Their Church" (which are detailed here)
- Become familiar with the children's and youth vision and philosophy of your church
- Offer to serve the church in discipling children and youth
- Prioritize family participation in the life of the church
- Partner with your children's ministry teams
- Use the Truth78 GIFT pages to disciple your children
- Encourage, support, and pray for your leadership
- Use and recommend discipleship resources for the home
Listen to the podcast "Fostering partnership between church and home"