Why Don’t We do Family Discipleship Anymore
(And How We Can Start)
By Jason Koon
A recent study showed that less than 6% of people aged 15-30 can articulate the basics of the Gospel. I’ve read the studies about the mass-migration of Millennials away from the Church over the past decade, and I know that unlike previous Exodus, they’re probably not coming back. I’m even aware that millions of once-faithful Boomers are following them, but there is one reason that I still find it astonishing that only 6% of this generation has even a basic understanding of the Gospel. Many of them grew up in Church. If it’s true that 25-30% of Millennials grew up going to Church on a somewhat regular basis, it makes me wonder what we’ve been teaching over the past 20 years, because it doesn’t seem to have been biblical Christianity. And if that’s the case, I can understand why they’re leaving; they’re not leaving the faith, they’re leaving some watered-down, cheap imitation that we thought would be more palatable to them. They’re spitting-up the rotten milk we tried to pass off as the gospel, the problem is that many have confused the imitation for the real thing.
It’s more important than ever that Christians take responsibility for raising their children to become, not just nominal American Christians, but true disciples of Jesus. It’s not easy; many adults continue to struggle with the demands of genuine Discipleship and many feel ill-equipped even to live our own lives, much less to be responsible for a whole other person. But if you have made the jump into parenthood, you have made the jump into becoming Disciple-maker, whether you realized it or not. You and I have all been called upon to make Disciples and it must start with the people closest to us, our families, our children, and our grandchildren. So why do we struggle with Family Discipleship. I think there are three reasons that cause most of us to second guess our roles as Disciple-makers in our families, and over the next three months we will look at these:
I take them to Church, isn’t that enough?
In a word, NO! 30% of parents in the last generation took their kids to Church and about three-quarters of those Church going kids literally don’t know the difference between the Gospel and a hole in the ground. It’s not their fault, it’s our fault. We need to stop blaming Millennials for living in darkness and begin to repent of raising them in it. This doesn’t fall on the Church or the Youth Pastor, it’s the responsibility of parents. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 puts the responsibility for the Discipleship of Children squarely on the shoulders of the parents.
As Paul lays out the qualifications for Elders in Titus, he writes that an Elder’s children should be believers or faithful. Which means that I would need to seriously reconsider my standing as an elder in my Church if one of my children ends up leaving the faith. Now, the Greek word for believing could mean faithful, stable, or even well-taught, so it seems there is some room in this passage for an elder whose children apostatized in spite of having been taught well, but the implications for all of us in this passage are stark. The Spiritual Condition of the Children is directly the responsibility of the parents. Period. If your children are not trained up in the faith, don’t blame the Church or the Youth Pastor, it is our responsibility as parents, not just to take them to Church, but to lead them to the foot of the Cross.
Jason Koon is Pastor of Bridge42 Church in Morganton, NC.