Discipleship is best lived out through the family and the church. Abundant Life Family Ministry wants to equip parents for family discipleship and provide resources to lead powerful spiritual conversations with the next generation.
Our Family Ministry aims to equip parents to grow thriving families through family discipleship in 4 different ways:
1. Have a family faith talk every week.
2. Capture God moments to go.
3. Celebrate mile markers as a church family.
4. Establish community.
Why Is Family Discipleship Important?
Family discipleship is important because teaching children to follow Jesus starts at home. Throughout the Bible, God calls parents to be disciple-makers by diligently teaching, disciplining, and nurturing their children.
- “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”—Deuteronomy 6:6-7
- “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.”—Matthew 28:18-20
How Family Discipleship Has Changed Lives
Our 7-week family discipleship class, Castles, helps parents build a solid foundation for spiritual growth within their family. Parents discover biblical guidance, find meaningful ways to incorporate faith into their daily lives and connect with others in a warm, welcoming environment.
We interviewed several Castles participants on how family discipleship has changed their marriages and family dynamics. Their testimonies are powerful examples of what happens when parents are the primary spiritual influences in their children’s lives.
Question 1: What Growth Did You See in Your Group During the 7-Week Class?
Castles group leaders have seen exponential growth in the lives of their group participants. One couple said, “The biggest growth we have seen is understanding how our relationship with the Lord affects all other relationships. One of our participants said it best: ‘You cannot pour into a relationship what you have not received first from the Lord.’”
The leaders have also seen couples and families take the initiative to start serving regularly at church.
“A surprise has been the conviction many have taken to serve our church body. We have had multiple participants sign up to serve, recognizing the benefits that come from helping others.”
“One group we led got completely involved in the process, and all of them are plugged into serving at church one way or another. Two other couples are looking to lead Castles soon.”
Communication and vulnerability are other areas where group participants grow as they build relationships with others.
“Vulnerability, exposing gaps, and taking the steps to come closer together have been demonstrated in several members.”
“I see less resistance to openly communicating with each other over the lessons.”
Question 2: How Did You Grow While Leading Your Group?
For one couple, leading a Castles family discipleship group reminded them that spending daily time with Jesus is a top priority.
“Reviewing this content over and over has driven home the importance of making time with Jesus a daily priority. I have learned to value God’s Word more and seek the wisdom that comes through it.”
Other leaders grew in empathy and understanding of where the group participants were in their family journey.
“I was able to grow in understanding my own journey in my family and relate to the couples in the group.”
Although the Castles study provides a roadmap for conversation, it is up to each leader to facilitate the discussion for their group. One couple experienced growth in learning how to communicate with each other while leading their group.
“We have gotten better about taking the leader guides and turning them into discussions, which helps keep the conversation fluid. We also learned to listen to each other and take turns without steamrolling each other. Because that just looks sloppy.”
Question 3: Were You Prompted to Change How You Lead Your Child(ren) or Partner with Your Spouse?
For one parent, completing the curriculum taught him to change his attitude toward parenting his children. He said:
“I learned that I need to be calm in different situations.”
Another husband experienced deeper intimacy in his marriage as he and his wife led together.
“I have been reminded of what a gift my wife is. Castles has reminded me to focus on the many benefits and the gift that she is to me. Before Castles, I was characterized by a more negative focus on what she was doing that I disagreed with. This has led to a deeper intimacy in our marriage.”
Question 4: Did You Learn New Strategies for Initiating Weekly Spiritual Conversations with Your Kids?
Initiating spiritual conversations with your kids can be challenging and uncomfortable, but it is essential for their growth. One parent shared:
“I have learned that sharing what I am learning and being vulnerable has drawn my children into deeper conversations about their own walk with the Lord.”
A mom who homeschools her young children shared how she initiates spiritual conversations with her kids.
“We take time during our homeschool day to linger at the Bible reading part, allowing time for questions and discussion. It has led to much deeper conversations.”
Question 5: Can You Give an Example of a “God Moment” You Had with Your Child(ren)?
One of the ways parents win at family discipleship is by never missing a God moment. We encourage parents to seize opportunities to connect spiritual truths to everyday life for their kids. After completing the class, our leaders implemented this in their daily parenting.
“When I had to bring correction to my son over the foolish behavior he was exhibiting, I stopped to ask him ‘why’ he thought the behavior was an issue. This question allowed me to see that he knew the reasons why, and I was able to handle the discipline without harshness because I knew he understood.”
“God moments have been implemented into our routine so many times that now the kids are pointing them out to me! They will notice something and remark how ‘the Lord did that, didn't He?’”
Question 6: How Did the Castles Family Discipleship Group Help You Build a Strong Spiritual Foundation?
The Castles family discipleship groups are designed to help parents build lasting families. One couple testified:
“Castles required me to evaluate if the way I am spending my time is truly reflecting the importance I say my family is to me. It has made me more intentional with how I spend my time.”
Another couple shared their convictions about establishing a firm foundation for their children through family discipleship.
“It taught us to start from the bottom up, with our foundation first. It has given us a blueprint of what it should look like.”
Question 7: How Has Community Played a Role in Helping You Raise Your Children?
Parents journey through the Castles curriculum alongside other families in similar seasons, giving them people to depend on as they raise their kids. One couple testified to the importance of community in helping raise their children.
“For one, it has given them other trustworthy adults whom they can ask questions of. Knowing that mom and dad trust their Sunday School teacher, for example, has led the girls to be able to also trust them and have conversations. Then they are excited to share a ‘Guess what?’ moment with us.”
Giving kids access to other trustworthy adults while growing up is vital. As a parent, you should be the primary source of truth in a child’s life, but raising your children alongside like-minded families gives them examples of kindness, courtesy, respect, confidence, empathy, and obedience to follow. It also helps your children understand the importance of authority, obedience, and respect.
Question 8: What Are Your Next Steps After Completing the Class?
Parents who have completed the curriculum emphatically say that their next step is leading a group and getting involved in serving regularly. After completing the study, the goal is to launch parents into their next step at church, whether joining a community group, serving regularly, starting another parenting course, or doing family discipleship with other parents.
What is your next step in family discipleship? No matter what your family looks like or how old your children are, the Castles family discipleship class will help you foster spiritual growth, invest in community, and leave a legacy for your family.