I am sometimes wary when I hear the phrase “intentional parenting,” because of it’s occasional exercised meaning of obsessive parenting, narrate-every-move-parenting, helicopter parenting, or the like. However, the focus of intentional parenting in Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design is what parenting looks like in the context of intentional family discipleship.
Author Tad Thompson uses the metaphor of various rooms of the house to examine what the framework of intentional discipleship should look like within the Christian family. In the metaphorical room of the kitchen, he looks at 7 components that he considers to be must-have ingredients for Christian family discipleship: The Gospel, The Big Story (Biblical Theology), The Big Truths (Systematic Theology), The Great Commission, Spiritual Disciplines, Christian Living, and Worldview. Under the section on “The Gospel,” he also examines the common false gospels of “Personal Improvement,” of “Prosperity,” and “Pray the Prayer gospel”– false Gospels which are all too common ways the Gospel is presented to children in som evangelical ministries.
The book is divided into six chapters, and reads like a lengthy sermon on the subject:
- 1) The Need: Look
- 2) The Mirror: See
- 3) The Kitchen: The Ingredients of Family Discipleship
- 4) The Living Room: Contexts for Teaching and Learning
- 5) The Bedroom: Speaking to Our Children’s Hearts
- 6) Time to Engage
I found this book to be both encouraging and convicting as we seek to intentionally disciple our now three children. The author strongly emphasizes that the family/home is the primary realm in which the discipleship of children (of believers) is to take place, viewing parents as the primary agents of discipleship. In the current season of our family’s life, we’ve chosen not to outsource the discipleship of our children (e.g., no preschool, Sunday school, Christian daycare, etc…, and so it is an extremely daunting consideration to think that what our children know of God they have either learned from us or by our side (e.g., sitting in a church service mostly geared toward adults). While it is certainly not a formula for a family’s spiritual success, I found the emphasis on the components that should be involved as parents seek to disciple their family to be helpful. Instead of a method, the book does more to lay out a matrix through which to view family discipleship.