“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing a little.” That’s not what I expected from my friend as we sat chatting about how we wanted to grow spiritually. “A little?” I’m more motivated by methods that help me conquer and overcome, so her words felt flat and frankly underwhelming. At least they did at first.
However, as we talked, I realized what she was saying. After all, how many times have I made New Year’s Resolutions or set goals only to drop them in less than a week because I had been impetuous or started too big? Maybe there was something to my friend’s point.
G.K. Chesterton, the English writer and theologian, made a similar statement that is also regularly met with misunderstanding: “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” How can this be? Is anything worth doing “badly”? While Chesterton may seem to be justifying sloppy work or lackluster effort, he meant that if we ever hope to do what matters, we just have to start, and very few of us are experts from the beginning.
Knowing we only have so many hours in a day and so many years in life means we must be intentional about the things we invest in. What then is worth doing even if it’s just “a little” or if it’s done “badly”? Well, I want to make the case that one of the most important things we can do is make Christ-centered disciples of our children.
Maybe you’re new to understanding that it’s first and foremost the parents’ job to raise Christian children. Perhaps you have a sense that you SHOULD disciple your children, but the task seems daunting or uncomfortable. Let’s be honest, until the COVID-19 outbreak, most parents relied on the church for discipleship. But with quarantines and social distancing, many parents realized that the home must now be the primary place where their children are discipled.
It’s important to note that while the primary responsibility of a child’s discipleship rests on the family, I don’t think they should be left to do this alone. “Family” in Scripture usually means something broad that includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older siblings. Often Scripture even extends “family” to the larger religious community. Thus, it is the responsibility of the church to come alongside parents as they disciple their children. Moms, dads, and other primary caregivers should not feel alone in this endeavor, and so all believers have a part to play in family discipleship.
However, the discipleship and spiritual formation of children still rests first on believing parents. So, what do you do when you don’t feel equipped for the job? Start by asking God to help you own who you really are. So many things begin by understanding our true identity. If you are a believer, you are “in Christ” and you are called to make disciples. That is who you are. Don’t worry about having all the answers, whether or not your children think you’re strange to start something “spiritual,” or even if you’ll keep the same routine once schedules change. Embrace who you are in Christ.
Next, be willing to do “a little” family discipleship or to disciple “badly” - at first. We get better with practice. As I recently heard someone say, “skills are not developed by neglect; they are developed by practice.” Here are a few ways to start:
- Play worship music regularly in your home or car.
- Pray with your kids before taking them to school or putting them to bed.
- Read a chapter from the Bible at the dinner table and ask your children what they think it means (The Gospel of John is a great starting place).
- Take advantage of car rides to talk about spiritual things.
- Share your story. Tell your kids how you came to Christ and other meaningful ways God has worked in your life.
- Read a family devotional several times each week.
- Discuss what your kids learned from church on the way home or at lunch.
- Read Christian biographies as a family.
- Sing hymns and worship songs together.
- Model a consistent devotional life.
Family discipleship does not have to be a burden, but Satan will do everything he can to convince you not to do it. Instead, spending time as a family examining God’s worship, praying, and worshipping will be life-giving and even fun! Most importantly though, it’s our calling. The key is consistency and intentionality.
So, go ahead and dive in. Welcome the small ways you can center your home around Christ. Nothing else you do as a parent is more important. After all, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing even a little.
Kristi Cain currently serves as the National Director of Children's Ministries. She has served in a broad range of discipleship capacities since she graduated from Emmanuel College in 1997. She was formerly the Executive Editor of Curriculum for the IPHC and has also enjoyed being on the staff of two churches where she directed student and children’s ministry programs. Through the years she has taught and worked on the campuses of Emmanuel College and Wheaton College
She is married to her best friend, Jamie, and together they have three children: Cullen, Owen, and Annabeth. Kristi loves exploring new places with her family, conversing over morning coffee with her husband, reading, and teaching at her church.