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The 7 guiding principles of family-based student discipleship

Family Ministry Guiding PrinciplesThis past summer I spent a lot of time with other leaders at Red Door Church brainstorming what student discipleship could look like here.

Parents as Spiritual Leaders

As I’ve already discussed, we’re already very intentional about setting up the parents to be the spiritual leaders of their kids, not their pastor, a youth pastor, nor a small group leader. While those people can play an influential role in the spiritual development of a child or teenager, we believe that…

  • The family is God’s design for passing faith to the next generation.
  • The family is God’s plan for revealing Himself to the world.

Because of that, we want to uphold and honor the parents’ spiritual role in every way possible. So when it came to determining what guiding principles were going to direct a vision for family-based student discipleship at Red Door Church, it had to be built on that foundation.

The problem is, when you start down the road of having the “So what does that look like for student discipleship?” conversations, you actually bump into a lot of limitations with the typical church system. I mean, you can’t program Bible studies for families to do at home and you certainly can’t go to their homes and make sure it happens. But even if you could, is that even the best way for discipleship to happen in the home? And what do you do with all the students who don’t have parents who are even believers in the first place?

Those are all questions we’re still wrestling through, but we’ve come up with some guiding principles that must be true of whatever we do with student discipleship at Red Door Church. (And notice, we’re not using the term “youth group,” which, in our minds, has a different goal in mind.)

We actually kicked off our first student discipleship group a few weeks ago, which is the implementation of these principles. I’ll discuss that more of what that looks like for us in a blog post next week.

Our Principles

We believe every family should have…

  1. A Great Big Vision: The family needs a picture of what God wants them to be and do. We want fathers to seek the Lord for the answer to, “What’s the vision for your family?” and, “What’s your discipleship plan for your children?” The default plan for today is for the church to do it.
  2. A Strong Marriage: This is so essential for a strong family. When a marriage starts breaking down, so does the rest of the family. It’s not just divorce that violates God’s plan for the family, but it’s also any marriage that does not reflect Christ’s love for His church.
  3. Growing Parents: Spiritual growth in the family starts with the parents. We feel that it’s the parents’ responsibility to initiate and set the spiritual tone of the home.
  4. Growing Kids: As parents take their faith seriously and reinvest that into their kids, students should grow along with parents who are setting the example and leading the way.
  5. Open Air: Family relationships should be such that students and parents can have open and honest communication with each other. A strong, growing family means that teens can look to their parents for guidance, advice, and to discuss the most important things in their lives.
  6. Fun: Families are supposed to enjoy each other. An element of planned, intentional fun makes it easier for family members build solid, lasting relationships.
  7. A Village: No family is intended to grow in isolation. We all need to be surrounded by a community of others who will support us, encourage us, challenge us, celebrate with us, and grow with us.

At Red Door Church, we want to partner with students and parents to provide the training and relationships necessary to make this a reality. I’ll share more what that looks like both for the parents and the teenagers in an upcoming post.


Posted on October 15, 2013

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  • Daniel

    Thanks! We’re working at our church on helping families transition from “we bring our kids to church to have the church bring them to God” to “we bring our kids to God and the church comes along side us.”

  • Jason Kruger

    What a great concept. I would have loved to have been able to grow as a family as I was in my early stages of growing as a Christian. It’s an interesting thought to have had my parents so heavily involved with the youth growing up. I wonder what pros and cons that creates.

    Do the kids seem to enjoy having their parents engaging in their ministry?
    Have you had any kids react negatively with all much parent involvement?
    What age group is this, children or youth?
    Do y’all have times for the youth to be around just youth? And times for the adults to have just adult interaction?

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