We have been told in the scriptures very clearly that it is the father's joy and duty to disciple his children in the things of our triune God. It is not the mother's primary responsibility. It is not the grandparents' primary responsibility. It is not the church's primary responsibility. It is certainly not the responsibility of a secular school system.
In two very significant bible passages for fathers, we read the following:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV; emphasis mine)
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.' Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:1-4 (ESV; emphasis mine)
Despite passages like this, fathers are failing their children.
The reality is that most children who are part of churches do not know the basics of the Christian faith. Why is this? The reason is that most dads, despite their stated belief that the bible is both true and authoritative, are not discipling their children. They aren't teaching the bible, discussing theology, modeling service to others inside and outside the church, and aren't sharing their faith for their kids to see.
In this country, we are raising generation after generation of children who believe that Christianity is a part of life that happens on Sundays for a few hours and maybe some evening during the week. Because of this, most Christians are living lives that look little different from those of the secular culture. Christian families are bereft of true discipleship. The guilty party is the fathers.
This lack of discipleship is the primary reason why so many churches will close their doors permanently within the next 20-30 years. The children who have not been discipled by their fathers will leave the church (many already have) and won't return.
Fathers, what can we do about this? Here are a few ideas:
1. Let's stop pretending that the bible is not clear on this issue. We have a clear responsibility.
2. Let's repent of our disobedience in not discipling our children.
3. Let's begin discipling today. You do not have to be an expert to do this.
4. Let's begin by explaining to our families how things are going to be different (if she is a Christian, your wife will be thrilled).
5. Let's set aside a time of day to read the bible, sing hymns or choruses, study a catechism, pray, and whatever else the Lord tells us to do.
6. Let's be purposeful and proactive in serving others while taking our children with us.
7. Let's look for opportunities to share our faith in Jesus Christ so that our kids can see it happen.
8. Let's encourage other men in our church family to do these same things.
Dads - we have a great privilege. We get to teach our children about the glories of our great God. We have the joy of building in them a deep faith in Christ that they can then use to honor God in all their lives. We have the duty of raising our kids in such a way that they will be disciples of Christ.
If the bible is God's word, then it is true. If it is true, then it is authoritative. If it is authoritative, then one bible verse is all we need in order to know what to do.
Dads - let's obey and disciple.