Family Discipleship Made Easier…and Better
If there is one thing that we hear quite often as parents, it’s that we aren’t discipling our kids today the way we should. For example:
Religion formerly centered in the home. Parents read the Bible to their children, had family prayer, said grace at meals, talked to their children about God and the Christian way of life. Today the only formal teaching some children ever receive about religion is the few minutes they have on Sunday morning at the church school—if their parents are sufficiently interested to get up in time to get the children to the church.”
— W. Neill Hart 
Now that’s pretty rough. It makes it sound like we are the first generation of parents to fail at this family discipleship thing, doesn’t it? But here’s the catch: this quote doesn’t come from a recent book lamenting the state of family discipleship in 2020. Or even 2010. Or even 2000.
W. Neill Hart wrote this in 1951.
A Generation-Spanning Problem
Seventy years ago, Hart and many of his peers lamented the state of family discipleship concerning two generations of parents who came before us in ways that sound eerily familiar to what is said today.
Here’s another one:
Family worship has declined until, at least in the United States, the percentage of families practicing daily worship in the home is so small as to be negligible.”
— Henry Frederick Cope 
Want to guess when this was from?
America has seen four, perhaps even five, generations of failure.
Are We Just Chasing Windmills?
So here’s my question. When exactly was this golden age of family discipleship in America that everyone seems to lament has come to an end? What was the generation of parents, grandparents, foster parents, and guardians who got it right?
Was there even one?
Perhaps we are like Don Quixote chasing windmills.
Someone could make the best case for the 1600s Puritans, but even that argument has two problems. First, many of the colonies had laws requiring family worship. That sort of robs the heart of it, doesn’t it? Second, and perhaps related to that first problem, is that the evidence doesn’t support the notion that the Puritans discipled well. They may have been active, but they may not have been effective. Why do I say this? Because guess what was lamented in the early eighteenth century? That’s right, a lack of family discipleship, which, in part, gave rise to a new ministry concept called Sunday School. If discipleship is about making disciples who make disciples (and it is), then the truest measure of the success of the Puritans would be measured by the spiritual vitality of their grandchildren. Sadly, the Puritans failed to pass down a legacy of discipleship.
So why do I share this? It’s not to give us an excuse not to disciple our kids. (“If our parents didn’t get this right and our grandparents didn’t either, and even the Puritans didn’t really, then why in the world should I even try?”) Rather I wonder if part of the problem is that we are all trying to live up to a myth—an American generation of uber-spiritual dads and moms who rolled out of bed (at 4:30 a.m. no doubt) dripping gospel gems that would have caused Charles Spurgeon to mumble, “Ohh. Now that’s good.”
We live in the shadows of giants who never existed.
We’re just chasing windmills.
And maybe that is what we need to change first—our scorecard. Maybe one of the best ways we can usher in a beautiful ongoing season of meaningful family discipleship is first to take a deep breath, relax, and be more realistic about it all.
Maybe we need to put to death the idea of family discipleship that we might hold because it is merely a windmill, rather than reality. Maybe we need to find joy in celebrating modest wins—small ones even—because those are exactly the type of wins that lead to bigger wins with consistency and in time.
Introducing The Gospel Project @ Home
If you’re reading this blog post, it is likely because your kids ministry leader shared it with you after purchasing Fall Gospel Project curriculum that includes a brand new resources that was crafted just for you: The Gospel Project @ Home. (Or, if you stumbled upon this post, then pause here and tell your kids leader to go purchase it through Ministry Grid, or through the Shop button on this page. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
We are so excited about the opportunity to come alongside your kids ministry and you to provide you with a resource that we believe will make family discipleship easier, and better, for you than ever. You need that. Your kids need that. Your church needs that. And our nation and world certainly does too. Here’s how it works:
A Digital Experience
While there are many ways to do it, when it all comes down to it, your weekly discipleship routine starts with a link to The Gospel Project @ Home in the Ministry Grid platform. If you have not registered for an account on Ministry Grid, you would need to do that, but don’t worry—it is quick and easy. Should take you less than a minute. That account is important because it connects you with your church’s kids ministry. Your ministry leaders can then provide you with the content for each week, making it easy for you to know what you are supposed to do. Less for you to keep track of!
Your leaders can customize The Gospel Project @ Home if they would like—such as including videos of your church’s worship team for you to use in the home—but the bones of this resource provides you with three basic experiences for the week. Think of them as concentric circles with the bullseye—family worship—being the most important. If you can only do one thing a week, we recommend you start there.
But then, if you are able, add the next ring: family prayer, and then if you are able to do more, add the out ring: family activities. Of course, if you want to even do more and make the Puritans jealous, you can always add other resources, such as a catechism (I know of a decent one), to your heart’s desire.
The link your kids ministry sends will be all you need, although I would suggest you have a Bible too. The Bible passage is included, but there’s something about reading from the Bible itself.
The Bullseye: Family Worship
The family worship experience is designed around a read, pray, sing model of family discipleship, all of which can be done in about 15 minutes. I suggest choosing a set night of the week to have family worship right after dinner.
The first tap on your mobile device within The Gospel Project @ Home content will take you to the Bible passage to read with your family. Some passages are pretty short and you can read it all. Others are longer. If you have older kids, you could still read it all. Or, you might choose to read only part. Don’t feel bad if you go that route! Burn those windmills already.
After that, you have a brief devotion to read as a family and then you can watch one or both of the Kids Bible story or Preschool Bible story. These are the same videos your kids would have watched at church.
After that, you can read the Key Passage—a memory verse that your kids are learning. And finally, you can sing the Key Passage song together to worship and further help memorizing it.
That’s it. You do that, and that’s a win. Take that, Puritans.
The Middle Ring: Family Prayer
While Bible reading is considered the best way we can foster our kids’ faith, prayer is not far behind. Prayer is part of the Family Worship Experience, but if you want to take a next step, use the morning and evening prayer prompts throughout the week. It doesn’t have to be every day—it could be—but any time of prayer is meaningful. While you might want to look at The Gospel Project @ Home on your device to refresh yourself about these prompts the first time or two during the week, you likely will be able to go from memory after that. Our hope is that these prompts provide times of prayer, but also follow-up conversations about what your family is learning together.
The Outer Ring: Family Activities
Faith is active. That’s why we have provided you with yet another way to deepen family discipleship if you are able. Each week’s content includes two relatively simple activities—one for fun and the other to live on mission.
You’re Not In This Alone
That’s it. Doesn’t sound too bad does it? Seriously though, we designed this resource to be approachable and not intimidating, yet meaningful. Quality discipleship can be easy, and even brief. (If only pastors knew that about preaching, right?) We hope that is what you have in The Gospel Project @ Home.
But there is one more thing you need to know. You’re not alone in this. You are not the only parent, grandparent, or guardian who has struggled with family discipleship. If you look all the way down at the bottom of each part of The Gospel Project @ Home, you will see a discussion feature. That connects you with the other parents and families in your church who are using it too (another reason you need to create an account). Don’t go this alone! Connect with other families. Share questions you all have about the Bible passage. Share ideas. Share encouragement. See yourselves as a team cheering one another on in this. As your kids leaders and church staff cheer you on. And as we at The Gospel Project cheer you on too.
Maybe, just maybe, we aren’t chasing windmills after all. Maybe God is raising us up to be the generation who does this family discipleship thing right.
 W. Neill Hart, Home and Church Working Together (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1951), 27.
 Henry Frederick Cope, Religious Education in the Family, The University of Chicago Publications in Religious Education (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1915), 126.