What is Family Discipleship in the Home?
About a century ago, it was common to see families gathered at a dinner table or in their living room enjoying Family Discipleship. Family Discipleship includes Bible reading, Bible study, singing worshipful songs, catechism, and some other things. Family Discipleship was understood to be the bedrock foundation upon which all Christian discipleship was built.  In our day, dinner at a table of some kind as a family is becoming less and less frequent. So, the concept of Family Discipleship has all but disappeared from our memory.
How can we bring Family Discipleship back?
Well, I’m glad you asked. Actually, there is great hope that we can bring Family Discipleship back to the minds and lives of Christian families everywhere. However, we ought not think of Family Discipleship as the subject for a new crusade or social agenda. Rather, we ought to think in terms of our own families. You can bring back Family Discipleship in your own family, and you will make a tremendous impact on the future of your family and that of others. Bringing back Family Discipleship in your family may begin with a simple commitment to start reading a chapter of the Bible together and praying as a family on a regular basis. First thing in the morning, immediately after dinner, right before bed, and many other scheduling options should be considered as you think about what time and frequency work best for your family. The point is that you begin to make Family Discipleship a commitment rather than just thinking of it as a nice idea.
Where do I begin?
Family Discipleship is not a rigid form of religious piety. Instead, it is an expression of determined efforts to make regular and significant spiritual investments in the life of your family. There are many ways that various families might enjoy Family Discipleship, and each family should not feel obligated to copy another. However, it may be helpful to adopt the format that another family already uses in order to get your family going. Consider asking around to see who you know that might already be practicing Family Discipleship. You may also consider the following as a basic outline to get you started.
  • Read a chapter of Scripture together.
One helpful practice to consider when reading Scripture as a family (especially if this is something new for your family) is beginning with a book of the historical genre. Anyone who has resolved to read the Bible from cover to cover knows that you tend to hit a wall around Leviticus, and Numbers is not much more exciting to the untrained eye. So, starting with a book like Exodus, 1 & 2 Kings, or one of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) will provide an interesting and easy-to-follow storyline. As your confidence and knowledge grows, you may also give a brief explanation of what you have just read, or you may also ask a few questions to help your family discuss the biblical truth you’ve just covered.
  • Try to memorize an historical Church Creed together.
Memorizing something is a great way to make it stick. Your kids will likely enjoy memorizing something more than you will, because they will be better at it than you. Try it and see. Creeds are great to memorize because they are summaries of what the Bible teaches. If someone asks you, “What does the Bible say about Jesus?” you might answer by saying, “Read the Bible to find out.” However, it would be much more helpful to be ready with a brief summary of the basic biblical truths concerning Jesus Christ. Historical Church Creeds will provide you with a great starting point, and many are extraordinarily detailed and faithful to the Scriptures. You might simply begin with the Apostle’s Creed (named for summarizing the teaching of the Apostles). Another creed of great interest is the Nicene Creed.
  • Pray together.
Praying together can seem difficult, but it is truly simple to do when you begin to think about the common joys and desires of each member of your family. Prayers of thanksgiving are wonderful to end the day before everyone heads off to bed. Requesting the miraculous power of God to save a friend or another family member is a great way to begin the day before everyone heads off to school and/or work. Prayers of worshipful adoration (telling God how great He is), prayers of thanksgiving (thanking God for all He has done), prayers of confession (admitting that we have sinned against God and one another), and prayers of supplication (asking for God to do something for us) are all wonderful family prayers. See an An Introduction to Prayer for deeper study on the subject.
  • Sing together.
Admittedly, singing is something that you either do well or not-so-much. If you sing well, then this may come quite easy for you. But if you don’t, then this might give you an opportunity to get creative.  Here are a few tips to help you along the way. First, pick songs to sing that will do more than sound good or make you feel good. Choose songs that raise your view of God and present Him in all His glory and grace. Choose songs that also put the details of Christ’s person and work front and center. You might try to find a song that fits what you are looking for (try looking at hymnary.org), and then practice it during Family Worship for a couple of weeks. Once your family has it down, then it can be another in the rotation. If you learn a new God-glorifying, Christ-exalting song every month as you sing these alongside more familiar songs, then you will have at least 12 intentional songs added to your playlist in a year.  Speaking of playlist, for those who do not sing as well as they’d like, a song played from a phone and sung as a family works great.
  • Learn a Catechism together.
This may sound a bit foreign to some, and a bit too formal for some others, but catechisms are a marvelous tool for walking through the basic beliefs of Christianity. In fact, as simple as catechisms are intended to be, they can often provide even the most diligent students of the Bible with help and illumination. Catechisms are only as good as they are faithful to the Bible, so you have to be choosy here. The catechism that many esteem as the standard for all others is called the Westminster Catechism (there is both a shorter and longer version). There was also a Children’s version created in easier language. Baptists have a similar catechism, known as Keach’s Catechism (named after its author, Benjamin Keach). Both of these catechisms are excellent in conveying the wealth of knowledge that the Bible contains, and this is a major component of discipleship.
Remember these two things as you start:  
(1) You don’t have to be perfect.  Breath out and recognize that you will miss a day or two here and there (maybe even several days in a row).  Don’t worry about the days you have missed.  Just pick back up where you left off, and make it a priority.  Over time, the “normal” routine that you have now will gradually shift to include Family Worship more frequently if you will continually re-insert it into the daily schedule.
(2) Timing isn’t everything.  Some families practice Family Discipleship early in the morning, others do so right after dinner.  You need only to decide what time will be least conflicting within the framework of your family’s schedule.  On a side not, if you are thinking that your family has absolutely no time to spare in the daily schedule, then you should probably take a hard look at how you can decrease the busyness of your family routine.  Make no mistake, any routine that makes spiritual investments impossible is a routine that is doing you and your family much more harm than good.
Additionally, some families may spend 15-30 minutes, while others may spend an hour or more on Family Discipleship each day.  “How much time should we take?” is not the question to be answered now.  Simply commit to including the elements listed above, and take the amount of time you believe your family needs.