The expectation of many Christian believers in this current age and time is that church centers should act as full-fledged discipleship centers. Worse still, some anticipate pastoral teams and the clergy at large to offer round the clock discipleship programs in places of worship. While such expectations are well-intentioned, they may not be met per se and adequately during the normal church services on Sundays. It is pertinent to point out that numerous ample opportunities and settings exist for family discipleship let alone the formal church environments. For instance, from the time a child is enrolled to a Sunday school spiritual care program to the time he/she graduates from a tertiary institution, church-based discipleship is possible. But again, discipling a family does not only imply engaging the young generation with the word of God. The entire family unit need and deserve to be meaningfully nourished with the Word. Such is the main focus of CITAM Family Fest 2017 that will be taking place at CITAM Valley Road from 23rd to 27th May 2017.
A family unit that is not continually ‘baked’ in discipleship of the word of God is obviously at risk of not delving deep into the things of the Spirit. Consequently, such a household may not sufficiently come to KNOW, LOVE and OBEY God. A case in point is a category of children who grow up in households that lack proper discussions of spiritual matters (such as prayer and fasting). While such children will still bear the tag of ‘followers of Christ’ when they attain age 18 and above, they aren’t very much prepared to face the challenging world especially in their daily spiritual walk with Jesus. Some of them can hardly bear pain and suffering by considering it as pure joy (James 1:2-4)
To be sure, the scripture does teach Christian believers to assist in instructing each other on how to walk righteously and within the will of our Creator. The discipleship journey of fasting, evangelism, bible study and prayer among other divine disciplines are crucial in solid spiritual growth of any family structure. A disciple is an avid learner of the Word of God. Hence, individual and corporate church families are responsible for discipling one another, besides the immense contribution of the pastoral team.
Ponder about the ancient Jewish Scripture which reads, “Repeat [these words] to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
The book of Ephesians 5:8 clarifies that parents should bring up their children in the “nurture and teaching of the Lord”. At no time is the discipleship role delegated to pastors or the clergy. Nonetheless, it does not imply that teachers of the Word, elders or pastors have no discipleship responsibility, but the core task lies with parents or family units.
Our theme text for the Family Fest 2017 is derived from Joshua 24: 15, that as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord! Discipleship can be quite swift and fruitful if approached and navigated from the family perspective. Outstanding topics in this year’s Family Fest include but not limited to:
- Preserving the seed
- God’s blue print for the family
- Embracing Family Values
- Discipling Your Primary School Children
- Peer Discipleship
- Discipling the Pastor’s Family
According to the organizers of the Family Fest 2017, the following are some of the vital questions to think about or deliberate upon:
- Is it possible for one to disciple members of their family?
- How would that look like e.g. for spouses, parents and children, extended family, house workers, etc?
- What are the challenges in discipling the family and how can they be overcome?
- What about the unmarried, [Young singles, older singles]
- Single parents, or the widowed?
- How can a local church structure for discipling the family?
- What is God’s blue print for the Family?
The expected outcomes of the conference include:
- Equipping participants to disciple members of their family
- Exploring Practical models of doing discipleship in the various family seasons
- Engaging contemporary discipleship family issues
- Embracing the family unit as the basic unit of discipleship
- Empowering family members for active ministry involvement
- Encouraging the local church to disciple the whole family
- Enhancing the critical place of a godly offspring
It is our prayer that families will remain vital centers of discipleship as the Lord God initially intended. Have a blessed family month!