Ten Ways to Make Disciples of Straying Children and Grandchildren
Many parents and grandparents have children who have strayed from following the Lord. There are different reasons why adult children choose to leave the church. One common reason is that no one ever trained the child’s parents to make disciples of their children.
We tend to do what was done for us. Perhaps as a parent you did everything you knew to do. You took your children to church and Sunday School. You prayed before your meals. You made sure that your children made professions of faith. Everything seemed to be working fine, and then your adult children rebelled and left the church.
There is some good news for parents and grandparents who have straying children. First of all, Jesus encountered this very problem with His own disciples. After Judas betrayed Jesus, all of His disciples abandoned Jesus and strayed for a period of time. They all hurt Jesus deeply. But other than Judas, they all returned for the glory of God! Your children may return too. Jesus showed us and taught us how to deal with those who are our disciples and have abandoned the church and have hurt us. Here are ten ways to make disciples of straying children and grandchildren:
10. If you have not discipled your children like Jesus made disciples, prayerfully ask for their forgiveness. Every parent makes mistakes. We all fall short; none can really make disciples like the Son of God. But we all can begin to disciple MORE like Jesus! Ask your children to forgive you where you made mistakes. Give them the opportunity to describe each hurt. Agree with them and ask for their forgiveness. Forgive them for every sin they have committed against you. Doing this may help to reconcile your relationship.
9. Point out how Jesus employed Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and then commanded you to make disciples. Make a decision to disciple your children for life, no matter what their response may be. Tell them that your primary calling is to make disciples of your children and grandchildren, and you must obey that calling. Tell your child that you will never stop loving them and will never give up on them.
8. Faithfully pray for your children and grandchildren. Ask the Lord to guide you as you find creative ways to disciple and minister to them. Be like the shepherd in the parable of the lost sheep. Keep looking for ways to restore your sheep to your flock. Have faith that God will answer your prayers.
7. Study the way Jesus made disciples and do the same to the best of your ability. Read the gospels and observe how Jesus made disciples. Buy Disciple Like Jesus For Parents and the companion Study Guide and learn how to make disciples. Buy the book for your children and offer to study it with them.
6. Look for opportunities to serve them, and give testimonies of the goodness of the Lord. Minister to your children. Remind them that they have heard the Word of God and they know in their hearts that scripture is true. Keep sharing it with them. Every time you talk with them or your grandchildren, wash them in God’s love and word. Offer to read books together with your child, and talk with them once a week about the chapters you have read.
5. Enlist others around your children to pray and minister to them. Identify their neighbors, friends, co-workers, pastors and social media friends who are believers. Develop a community of believers that will reach out to them.
4. Stay involved in your children’s lives by meeting their needs, but don’t meddle. Allow them to make their own decisions. Give godly advice when asked. Offer to pray with your children and for them. Offer to babysit your grandchildren. If you don’t live nearby, consider relocating to their community. If they need financial help, consider pooling your resources by living in the same household.
3. When you have your grandchildren with you, read and teach the Bible to them. Bathe them in godly music and videos. Warn your grandchildren about wolves and lies that are being taught in our culture. Take them to church.
2. Acknowledge the good things that you did for them. If you took your children to church when they were in your home, they were under preaching and teaching. Rejoice in the fact that you ensured that your children heard the word of God. Take comfort in the hope about the saying that “God’s word shall not return void” in your children’s lives. Ask your children about good memories they had in church, and share your church memories with them. Remind your child of spiritual growth you witnessed in them when they were younger.
1. Never give up on your children and grandchildren. Discipleship is for life! Consider the fact that the command in Deuteronomy 6 (the method that Jesus personally used) is to parents and grandparents. The directive to make disciples is for our entire lifetime. That is hope!
Doing these things will be very hard, but the Lord will give you hope that they will one day walk with you in glory. The Lord will say to you one day: “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Take comfort in the hope of their homecoming. Think about the second half of the following wise words about training your children. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. “ (Proverbs 22:6) When the disciples of Jesus returned from straying, they never departed the faith. Your child may be old when he returns, but when an older person comes back, usually the decision is permanent. Have faith that your child will return and never depart again.
Alan Melton is the founder of Disciple Like Jesus ministry and co-author of "Disciple Like Jesus For Parents." The ministry encourages parents and grandparents to disciple their children in the same manner that Jesus made disciples. His articles have been featured in numerous publications, and he speaks at churches, associations and conferences. Alan has served the Lord as a church planter, pastor-elder, deacon chairman and business owner. He led Evangelism Explosion and FAITH evangelism training ministries for 10 years and juvenile delinquent ministries for 16 years. Married to Donna since 1977, he has two children, Jennifer and Ryan.