Throughout 2021, I intend to review one of my top ten family discipleship books each month. My goal in each review is to provide a basic overview along with a brief explanation of the positives and negatives of each book. I begin with Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments, & Milestones by Matt Chandler & Adam Griffin because it is the most recently released and most recently read.
The foundation of Family Discipleship is found in its subtitle: time, moments, and milestones. The book begins with a brief theological and biblical foundation for family discipleship and quickly moves to examining practical actions revolving around four concepts: modeling, time, moments, and milestones.
Modeling. While modeling does not make the subtitle, the concept warrants its own chapter and is significant for family discipleship. The stated key to using modeling as a discipleship tactic is “repentant integrity” and “relational proximity.” Through repentant integrity, kids learn their parents are not perfect and therefore are able to see the gospel of grace and truth active in the life of their parents. Through relational proximity, kids learn to trust their parents and see the results of gospel belief lived out before their eyes. While modeling is an essential ingredient in family discipleship, it must always be supplemented by intentional discipling action by parents through time, moments, and milestones.
Time. Formal, designated times set aside for worshiping God and growing in our knowledge and obedience of Christ is vital for the spiritual development of children. Some refer to this as family worship or family devotions; but whatever it may be called, it demonstrates the priority and importance of faith in the life of the family. Chandler and Griffin offer four ingredients for gathered time together as a family: (1) studying Scripture, (2) sharing how Scripture has impacted both individual lives and the family, (3) singing together, and (4) praying together. They also provide several ideas for when and how to implement this time including utilizing family meals, daily commutes, bedtime routines, worship services, and other special family times.
Moments. In many ways, moments are the opposite of time. While time is formal and designated, moments are often informal and spontaneous. Moments, as a discipleship tactic, include looking for and utilizing opportunities in the routine of daily life to teach or model spiritual truth, often called teachable moments. Parents can utilize these moments to teach their children about who God is and what God has called them to do. The great value of moments is that teaching is linked to a concrete experience which helps embed truth into the child’s mind and heart.
Milestones. The discipleship tactic of milestones includes identifying and memorializing significant events in the life of the child or family. The recognition of these events includes monuments and memorials. Monuments utilize physical objects to create a special event in the life of the child. For example, a father who gives his child a pocketknife on a special campout where he teaches his son about biblical manhood and godliness is creating a monument in the life of his son. Memorials on the other hand can utilize both tangible and intangible objects to mark a special event. For example, parents who give their child a special Bible when they are baptized are providing a memorial to remember that special event in their life. Milestones provide ample opportunity to teach the truth of God’s Word and call a child to obedience to Jesus Christ.
Time, moments, and milestones provide a structure for parents to understand and implement discipleship in their family. While there is certainly more that can be included, these concepts provide basic actions for practicing discipleship through the family. However, parents must never assume time + moments + milestones = faithful disciple of Christ. These discipleship tactics prepare and water the soil of a child’s mind and heart for spiritual truth, but only the Lord can cause growth.
I appreciate Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin’s work in Family Discipleship. The book is straightforward and simple to navigate. The great strength of the book is its practicality. Any parent can pick up this book and put the contents into practice immediately. The authors provide many suggestions for direct action steps parents can take to disciple their family, as well as provide examples from their own families along the way. The biggest drawback of the book is the lack of a strong and fully developed theological framework. While the authors provide a brief theological framework in chapter 2, I would have liked to see this further developed; however, I also understand that was not the purpose of this book.
If you are looking for practical ideas that can be immediately implemented, this may be the best book on the market for you. If you are looking for a developed theological framework for family discipleship, this is not the book for you. With that understanding, I highly recommend this book for parents and place it among my top 10 books on family discipleship.
All quotes come from Family Discipleship: Leading Your Home Through Time, Moments, and Milestones by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020).