(I shared this first over at ChurchCentral.com)
In our anti-male climate, thoughts such as these could probably be scorned. Men are mocked, stereotyped, and sadly, considered as a necessary evil sometimes, yet if we hope to capture the next generation for Christ, men are the key. (Before the stones start flying, and, if there is no father around, or one that refuses to be involved, the mother can equally perform the following thoughts.)
When surveys are answered by many church leadership groups, discipleship often ranks high on the priority list yet low on the implementation side. Inwardly we know we should be doing better and more in this critical arena. We know we need to disciple, but often we do not know how or who.
Enter fathers. If we could challenge the men under our influence to step up and start disciplining their families, what an impact that would generate. Envision multiple men from your church sitting around the dinner table reading the Scriptures, taking questions from their children, and provided Spirit guided discussion. Is it a dream? Is this just some lost longing for days gone by? Perhaps an over indulgence in viewing Normal Rockwell paintings?
No! This can happen if we pastors catch a vision for it. We can challenge, suggest, and model this to the men in our group. Many men feel inadequate to undertake this task, but they should not. Every man can read the Word, explain what it means to them, and field questions from their children. If the father does not know the answer, then challenge them to dig into it and find it. Most men will find the answers they desire regarding how to build, fix, or play something, why not the Scriptures. Most men do not because they simply have not been asked or challenged to do so.
If men were to take on this endeavor, the children will view their fathers as wise, the wife will feel more secure in knowing their husband is seeking wisdom and discipleship will take place.
One day a man came up to me after my sermon and said, “Pastor, your message today was not very deep.” By God’s grace, I held my tongue and He gave me a simple reply. I said, “What a great opportunity for you to take my short message and develop it at home as deeply as you want. As you lead your family in devotions this week, dig as deep as you wish.”
That conversation led to my thinking that every father could use my sermons as a jumping off point for discussions around the table. The benefits are multiple – The father would be considered wise, the pastor might just realize that their message was being discussed and implemented, and growth would abound all around. The church and family would work in partnership to disciple.
Discipleship takes place when someone older, more mature invests in someone younger or less mature. The father has a perfect opportunity to practice discipleship almost every day of his life if he will take it. Jesus commanded it, the church wants it, and the family desperately needs it. What do we have to lose? Okay, maybe apathy, immaturity, and Scriptural ignorance, but perhaps we could actually reverse the disturbing trend of young people rejecting the faith, if fathers were involved and regularly passed along the reasons for theirs. Challenge the men in your midst to take this on and see what happens.