We take seriously the opportunity and responsibility God has given parents to impact their children for eternity (Deut 6:6-9; Ps 78:1-8; Eph 6:4). Parents are the primary and most influential spiritual leaders (“missionaries”) their children will ever see. In fact, parents are probably their children’s only everyday example of the gospel.
As parents we know that our children learn so much from us, our mannerisms, our values, and our typical responses to life. These things are more caught, not taught. In other words, without formal training, we teach our children by our example as to what life is about; what is worth living for; what is the standard for right or wrong; how to define our problems, and therefore, how to define the solutions; how to respond to suffering and evil; and who is God, what is He like, and what difference does He make.
Therefore we know that if we want our children to treasure Christ above all else, we must treasure Christ. If we want our children to respond to life’s ups and downs by seeking God through prayer and the Word, we must seek God through prayer and the Word. If we want our children to live for God and not themselves, we must live for God even in the small matters of life. Every little word, every little action on our part communicates something to our children. So the question that haunts me as a parent is "What am I really teaching my children?" What am I communicating with my words and my life?
The responsibility is huge and the consequences are weighty. If you take the time to think about the influence parents have it can be overwhelming, humbling, convicting, and maybe even discouraging.
But God has not left us alone. He has promised to be with us as we make disciples of our children. Jesus says, “While going or while you live your life, make disciples of all nations (of your children)…and I will be with you to the very end” (Matt 28:19-20). When we obediently lead our children in discipleship God promises to be with us, not as a passive observer but as the one who sovereignly accomplishes His work in the hearts of your children.
God has promised to lead us through the Holy Spirit. “But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13) and will do his work of conviction on your child’s heart (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit will guide us.
God has also promised to reveal the truth of all reality through His Word. “Sanctify them in the truth, Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). The Word will lead us.
Finally, God has promised to encourage us through the church. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb 10:24–25). The church will come along side us.
Fully convinced that the work of salvation and sanctification is wholly God’s; on the human side, the role of the parent in a child’s spiritual development is so integral in God's process that we as a church see partnering with parents as the most effective way we can help make disciples of the next generation.