Every day, every way … show them Jesus
The Great Commission begins at home.
By Rebecca Grace Davis
When it comes to parenting, the Word of God is clear:
Believers are diligently and consistently to train, teach and admonish their
children in the ways of the Lord. In other words, they are to carry out the
Great Commission and make disciples in their own homes.
“[But] the truth of the matter is Christianity today dies
in the first generation,” according to Dr. Howard Hendricks, distinguished
professor emeritus of Christian education and leadership at Dallas Theological
Seminary. “The average parent does not conceive his role as mentor, as a
disciple maker, and therefore does not function that way.”
Young parents Kennon and Kathryn Vaughan are an
exception. They are very intentional and strategic when it comes to marking
every day of their children’s lives with the presence of the gospel for the
glory of God.
“The first institution for protecting and magnifying the
glory of God was not the church; it was the family,” Kennon told AFA Journal.
“So I think in the life of every believer, the first line of defense when it
comes to the Great Commission is in the home.”
Even as founder and executive director of Downline
Ministries, a non-profit organization designed to train believers to make
disciples, Kennon believes it is his first responsibility to foster biblical
discipleship in his own home. (See AFA Journal 6/12.)
“Frankly, if we’re not discipling our own kids, then we
probably don’t have any business trying to reach out and pour into others –
whether they are children or students or adults,” he added. “The ones we know
we are to disciple are the ones God has given us.”
But knowing exactly how to shepherd a child so that he
desires to become a lifelong follower and learner of Christ can be
While there is no perfect formula for biblical parenting
and certainly no guaranteed outcome, the Vaughans share what is presently
working for their family to encourage and motivate other families who desire to
exalt Christ in their homes.
“What Kathryn and I are doing first and foremost is
praying,” Kennon explained
“Each day I pray three things happen as I am with my
children,” Kathryn added. “They come from the famous biblical parenting passage
in Deuteronomy 6, also known as the great Shema.
“It begins with ‘Love the Lord your God with all your
heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments
that I give you today are to be upon your hearts,’” she recited.
Therefore, Kathryn first prays for her children – ages
4?, 3, and 18 months – to see a great love and obedience toward God in her own
words, actions and attitude.
“The passage then continues, ‘Impress them on your
children. Speak of them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way.
When you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and
bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on
So, secondly, Kathryn seeks the Lord as she attempts to
be intentional and consistent in teaching her children the truths of God
through discipline and instruction as well as daily rituals, which include
reviewing a Bible verse each morning, praying before every meal, singing at
night, kneeling together in prayer, and praying the armor of God and a specific
verse over each child before bed.
“Thirdly, I ask God each morning to make me sensitive to
teachable moments with my children,” she said. “I have to be listening to the
Holy Spirit and not be too tired or too busy or closed to veering from my
“Only God can turn their hearts toward Him,” Kennon
added, “so the greatest thing I think we do for our kids is pray Ephesians 1:18
– that God would open the eyes of their hearts that they may really know His
greatness and know Him personally.”
Knowing God is the desired outcome of biblical
discipleship in the home, and family devotions or family worship is becoming an
increasingly common way parents are teaching their children about God.
After dinner each night, the Vaughans stay around the
table and together they read the Bible, memorize Scripture, learn catechisms,
and sing songs. It’s a way to impart theological truth to their children, even
at such young ages.
Family devotions for the Vaughans have played a large
role in giving them the platform to share the Gospel with their children
through the happenings of everyday life.
Kathryn has also been instrumental in establishing family
traditions that celebrate God’s faithfulness in the life of their family.
“Our entire year is marked by traditions that keep us
remembering and discussing the prophecy, anticipation and expectation of the
Messiah and then the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ. That
leads us into constant worship of who Christ is and what He has done for us,”
Kathryn explained. “Traditions are fun and special to children, … and we want
them to have fun learning about God and the gospel through special experiences
that they eagerly anticipate.”
“We don’t want to be passive in the fight to model Christ
for our kids,” Kennon said. “We know we won’t do it perfectly, and often, we
won’t even do it very well. But we want to go for it.”
“I have a real passion for discipleship in the early
years, which I think is rarely seen as ‘discipleship’ because it can be so
mundane, repetitious and tedious,” Kathryn said. “However, every major
parenting expert I’ve read says the first five years are the most formative in
a child’s life.”
Therefore, she encourages mothers, especially those who
are worn down, to press on for the glory of God.
“The biblical truths they are teaching and modeling, the
decision making, the values they are living before their children over and over
will be there to guide their children when they become adolescents,” Kathryn
“But there is only so much we can do,” Kennon admitted.
After all, if successful parenting is merely about what
you do and how you do it, then it nullifies the work of Christ on the cross and
the grace of God in the lives of sinners.
“The central focus of parenting is the gospel,” writes
Dr. Tedd Tripp, in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. “[I] expected that
God’s Word would be the power of God to salvation for my children. But that
expectation was based on the power of the gospel and its suitability to human
need, not on a correct formula for producing children who believe.”
“We can’t make our children love Jesus. We desperately
want them to love Jesus, but we can’t make them,” Kennon added.
“How they turn out will depend on more than what you have
done in providing shaping influences,” Tripp writes. “Ultimately, you leave
them to God, knowing that you can entrust your children to the God who has
dealt so graciously with you.”
• Discipleship in the Home by Matt Friedeman
• Family-Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham
• Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy by Dr. Jerry
Pipes and Victor Lee
• Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes
– In You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
• Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
• Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis
•Treasuring God in Your Traditions by Noel Piper
• Giant Love by Andy Savage
• Truth and Grace Memory Books edited by Thomas Ascol
• The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones