How Do You Raise a Disciple?

This is not the post I had planned for today, but something really wonderful happened in our family this week and it changed the direction of my thinking.

Earlier in the week, our oldest son who is nearly six, prayed to ask Christ into his heart.

We are celebrating!

We’re celebrating because we know that he’ll spend eternity in the presence of God and celebrating that he’s chosen this path.

But now what?

The focus moves from leading him to Christ to helping him become a disciple. But just exactly how do we do that? I’m assuming with a lot of prayer, because that’s how we’ve been doing it all along.

Although my husband and I aren’t necessarily surprised by our son’s decision to follow Christ as his Lord and Savior, we were somewhat surprised by the timing. We thought it would take longer for him to make this decision.

You see, our son is incredibly logical. Logical to a fault, most times.

When we first started mentioning the idea of “accepting Christ” or “asking Christ into your heart” or “following Jesus”, our son saw no need for such things.

In his young mind there was no other option but to follow Jesus. As he reasoned to us, Jesus has always been in his heart. His five year-old self saw no other possibilities in life but to love, honor, and follow Christ.

This is a wonderful, enviable view on life.

So it took us awhile to help him understand that the choice to follow Christ is just that–a choice. Yet again he reasoned that for him there is and was no other option. For awhile he even argued that there was no reason for him to accept Christ into his heart–He was already there.

This has been an ongoing, on again-off again discussion for several months in our house. My husband and I have prayed since the moment we found out we were expecting a child (both times) that we’d raise our children to love the Lord. So, when the right moments presented themselves, we discussed it and our son reasoned.

Last Sunday morning as we were driving to church he suddenly piped up from the back seat, “Hey Mom, Dad. I’m ready to be baptized.”

We spoke about it for a few minutes and asked if he was ready to pray to ask Jesus into his heart. In his unique style he said, “I am. But I’m going to do it on Saturday.”

My husband and I smiled at each other– he’s not ready, we thought.

But the very next night at bedtime, once we’d settled in to say prayers, unprompted our son says, “I’m ready to say a special prayer now.” And he did.

Although I couldn’t help but get a little weepy, my son was very logical about it. (No shocker.) He approached the whole thing from the attitude that “I’ve always loved and followed Jesus, and now I’m just confirming that this is what I want to do with my life.”

And now that he’s made this decision, we’re looking forward to his baptism (not sure when that’s going to happen yet) and our focus shifts just a little bit.

Now we must raise him to become a disciple of Christ. I’d love your feedback in the comments about any books, ideas, etc, that have helped you do this with your own kids.

One of the things that has really stimulated conversations about Jesus is this Bible. It was given to our boys by their aunt and each and every story in it ties back to the sacrifice and redeeming salvation of Christ, but on a kid’s level.

Click here for the link to

We love it because it’s easy to read, it’s interesting, and for me, it’s made me consider new perspectives on stories I’ve known since I was my son’s age.

Even though we’ve had other picture Bibles, this one, by far, has offered the opportunity to discuss the idea of sin, redemption and grace more than any of the others. If you’re looking for a good kid’s Bible, I recommend that you check this one out.

As my husband and I continue to pray that we’ll raise our sons to love and serve the Lord, we’re celebrating this special blessing. And we pray that our two year-old will follow in his big brother’s footsteps.

I know there are other parents out there wanting encouragement as to how to lead your child to Christ, and then after set them on a road of life-long discipleship, so…

Share with me: When it comes to teaching your kids about following Christ, what worked for you? What books and other things do you recommend? When teaching your children about discipleship and the life-long adventure of Christianity, what do you recommend?

Don’t forget about my giveaway going on until 3/6/12. Have you entered yet? If not, do that here.


Filed under Parenting, The Christian Walk

16 responses to “How Do You Raise a Disciple?

  1. Awesome! I’m celebrating with you!

  2. Wouldn’t you have loved to have heard what the angels sang when he said his special prayer! I love the fact everyone in Heaven rejoices at a soul saved!

  3. Awesome to hear about the little man!

    Theoretically, I would always be teaching them the gospel of what Christ has done and the gospel beyond conversion (how we rehearse the gospel–our ineptness to obey and Christ’s sufficient obedience–in the minutia and practice of our lives).

    This book by Elyse Fitzpatrick has been recommended for gospel-centered parenting, though I would be sure to read the Amazon reviews and note its weaknesses:

    OR this one which focuses on the source of behavior (heart, soul) rather than just trying to correct the behavior itself.

    This is where I’ve landed on baptism: We always encourage children to trust Christ as sufficient to save them even AFTER they pray to receive them. Our sinful behavior extends from disordered worship and finding something besides Christ to “save” us. So in that sense we are always teaching our children to accept the gospel. In my mind that is what discipleship looks like. There’s a first time they believe (justification) and the thousands of times they believe after that (sanctification). In practice we are evangelizing them (and adults) in more specific and thorough ways. As J.D. Greear says, we’re trying to reach the unreached people groups of our hearts and the hearts of others with the gospel.

    That said, I think we should affirm them with baptism when they take on adult responsibilities or make adult decisions. One professor I have emphasized us that he wanted baptism for his children to be something they could remember and in which they could hold significance . The early church termed the Christian faith as one which we confessed in our baptism. If they can’t put it into terms of a saving knowledge of a Triune God or see the significance of their participation with Christ in his death and resurrection in the baptismal act. As one who has been dunked twice–as a child and adult–I would hands down advise everyone to wait and let a child’s faith develop and take an form. Even when I was in college, I don’t know if baptism’s significance was adequately explained to me. It’s pretty bad that it took until seminary for me to really understand the significance of baptism.

    I hope that’s helpful. Otherwise I don’t have no chilluns yet so I can’t comment on how that looks practically and specifically. By the length of this post, you can tell I’ve just come from counseling class and that I’m caffeinated.

    • I adore you. 🙂 I’ve actually read Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp–good stuff. Also, seeing as how I’m one of the few people I know who actually enjoys apologetics and has studied justification and sanctification, I’m with you. I’ve been praying for his path and continual sanctification since the moment he made this decision. Modeling the life of discipleship seems to be the key while he’s young, until he’s old enough to discuss some of the things you’ve mentioned above. And some of it I already know he’s simply going to have to seek God for on his own. It’s my continual prayer that he’ll choose to do that.

      I can already tell you are going to be a great dad someday. Much of what you put here is what B and I have already talked about.

  4. How wonderful! Yeah! I am so going to order this bible story book. I always love great recommendations. Right now my boys and I are working on scripture memorization. It’s great because we are able to talk about the verses and apply them to our lives.

    • I love that! Sadly, scripture memorization is not something we’ve really focused on until this year. It’s my fault for being a slacker. He’s been doing it at school and at Awana, so it’s been a natural thing for us to include. I love how it applies to all of us–not just to a kindergartener. Your boys will thank you for doing this with them, C! (And I think you’ll really like that Bible.)

  5. So happy for you and your family, Jennifer! I just ordered the Jesus Storybook Bible the other day for my two boys–it seemed like it really focused on God’s awesome plan and story, not on what my kids “needed” to do for God.

    Another one that I’m super excited to read and that I’ve heard a lot of great things about is GIVE THEM GRACE by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It’s parenting with the gospel in mind, not with good behavior in mind.

    Again, congratulations. Praying for your family on this exciting journey!

  6. My kids are younger than yours, but rather than books or programs (which are fabulous) I advocate family time reading the Word together, talking about what it means to us, praying together. And when your kids see you giving importance to things like daily quiet time, it resonates with them.

    God bless you as you keep on at it!

  7. Amy Leigh Simpson

    We’re not there yet, but I am going to have to defer to you with questions when the time comes. Congrats, Hagan!

  8. That’s so awesome, Jennifer! I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I’m sure I’ll have all the same questions!

  9. So proud of this little man. Can he talk to Connor for us?

    But seriously, anything Amy or I can do to help Hagan in his walk with Christ just let us know.

    God Bless!

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