When it comes to the goal of raising children who treasure Jesus above all things, Tad Thompson’s book Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design provides relevant, uncomplicated, practical theology in a punchy no-nonsense 100 pages. Short accessible chapters mean you get straight to the crux of each matter Tad addresses, and the “Now Make It Stick” section at the end of every chapter brings the point right into your home by asking questions and issuing challenges that help you know right where you’re at, and where you need to grow.
Intentional Parenting looks every Christian parent right in the eyes and reminds us
“[Y]ou cannot disciple your children beyond your own level of discipleship”.
Tad breaks discipleship into seven categories: The Gospel, The Big Story, The Big Truths, The Great Commission, Spiritual Disciplines, Christian Living, and Worldview; then proceeds to unpack how discipleship that includes each of these categories is most effectively accomplished when the practice is integrated into the rhythm of everyday life. As parents, we are responsible for building a solid foundation through real-time teachable moments that help our children to think clearly about God. Intentional Parenting enables parents to connect these categories to daily discipleship in the home.
Having briefly surveyed these seven categories, Intentional Parenting provides 5 action steps for parents who will commit to modelling for their children that to which they have committed to be a disciple themselves. First, a commitment to read the entire bible from cover to cover. Second, a commitment to read one book a year from each of the seven categories. Third, keeping a journal (or a blog) of what you are learning, and discussing it with other Christian parents. Fourth, a commitment to a church that values expository preaching and solid theological training. Finally, simply sharing and modelling what you are learning in your home. A worthy task, to be sure; but thoroughly biblical in training our children to love God with all of heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Most importantly, everything Intentional Parenting seeks to contribute to the pursuit of making Christ our supreme treasure is couched in prayer. Pray for your children, pray with your children, and let your children hear you praying for them. Teach your children from an early age the value of spending time with our living, relational God. The attitude you have towards this pursuit will mould their view of Emmanuel: the God who is with us. The language you adopt and the encouragement you provide in times of prayer will shape their theology, and permeate all seven categories into every sphere of their life.
As parents, our desire is to instil in our children’s daily living a heart that honours God rightly and gives him thanks in response to his saving grace. Taking the time to read Intentional Parenting has been both richly rewarding, but also highly practical and equipping for how to do family discipleship well. Buy it, highlight it, then pass it on.