Tag: christian parenting

Gospel-Centred Family (Chester & Moll)

When I received Tim Chester & Ed Moll’s extremely helpful book Gospel-Centred Family, I was determined to write an immediate review. Weeks passed. I kept going back to the short 93 page booklet to remind myself of gospel principles in raising my children. After reading through chapter 5, Disciplining a Child’s Heart, again this morning with my wife, I decided it was time to do the review!

Summary: One of a Kind

Gospel-Centred Family is simple, accessible, applicable, and profound. Many of us were raised to think that the gospel was something we should accept, not something we always need. This is equally true of parents. Like our children, we need the gospel to start and continue the Christian life. Instead of stooping to bribery, manipulation, behavior management, or emotionalism in parenting, Gospel-Centred Family lifts us up with gospel principles that point to Jesus as our King (not just example), to the heart (not just behaviors), and to understand how grace (not family goals) will transform a child into the image and beauty of Christ.

Book Structure: Easy to Read

The book is broken up into Four Sections: 1) Gospel-Centred Family 2) Grace-Centered Family 3) Word-Centered Family 4) Mission-Centred Family. Each chapter in each section contains a Principle, Biblical Background, and Questions for Reflection. I’m typically not into this kind of layout. In a lot of books that take this approach make the interaction feel “forced.” Not so with Gospel-Centred Family. Quite the opposite! The questions and principles are helpful and I’m considering using the whole book as the basis for a course in our church.

Disciplining a Child’s Heart: Gospel-centered & Practical

Instead or reviewing each chapter, I will provide a sample review of the book by examining one chapter.

Principle: Addressing the heart matters ore than controlling behavior.

Biblical Background:  Colossians 2:20-3:10. This background shows how Scripture does not advocate a rule-based approach to change, but that identity as a new creature in Christ is what changes us from the inside-out.

From Controlling to Addressing the Heart: Using helpful anecdotes, the authors explore common misconceptions about why children misbehave (“influences” not the heart). Many of us fall prey to these misconceptions, disciplining our children in ways that reinforce behavior-centered, not heart-centered parenting. We often try to control a child’s behavior instead of instruct their hearts. Consider some adapted examples:

  • Manipulation – “Can’t you behave like your sister?”
  • Fear – “If you don’t obey, you’ll get hit by a car.”
  • Bribery – “I’ll give you some candy if you obey me.”
  • Emotionalism – “After all I’ve done for you…”
  • Inconsistency – “Okay, just this once.”

We all fall into these, some more than others. My wife and I had an honest conversation about where we see one another choosing these behavior control approaches. We encouraged one another to address the heart more often.

Good Discipline

The authors then turn the corner of critique to instruction:

“…if your aim is to teach your child the ways of God, then your discipline will be calm, clear, consistent, and concentrated on the motives of their heart. The goal is not control—that’s your agenda. God’s agenda is a child who delights to know and serve Him.

They unpack each of the 4 Cs for godly discipline:

  1. Calm: The focus of discipline is the child’s hear rather than your emotional state.
  2. Clear: Make your commands clear…explain why they are being disciplined.
  3. Consistent: Set consistent boundaries..by always following through with warnings…and being consistent between parents.
  4. Concentrated on the heart: Focus on motivation, not just behaviour, e.g. “What did you want?” “Why did you do it?”

Concluding Thoughts

These principles and practices are immensely helpful, but they must be applied together as parents. Make sure you have some discussion time together over these things. Unite in prayerful repentance over failure and joyful resolve to not just change your kids’ behavior but instruct their heart. Parents should never stop talking about how to raise their kids. Fathers should lead out. As children grow older, it is important to move from discipline to self-discipline. As they grow, create times of discussion between parents and children so that you can grow in the gospel together.

Bonus: Gospel-centered Family Rhythms & Resources

Discipline: Preparing your kids to meet the King

Learning to enjoy your parent’s authority is the first step towards welcoming God’s authority. Don’t tell your children off for being children. Children break things and drop things…but ensure they obey you. Teach them to submit to your authority…Don’t let your child rule the home. If you do, you’ll be teaching them that they are king in their lives. They’re not. It won’t prepare them for wider social interaction. And it won’t prepare the to meet the true King.

Tim Chester & Ed Moll, Gospel-centered Family

Gospel-centered Family Resources

Here are some gospel-centered family resources to follow up our Sunday sermon on Gospel-centered Parenting. This is a buffet of resources. Just start with a couple. Don’t order everything and try to start all of these rhythms overnight. Start with the Bible and a book and move out from there. And remember, you can’t change your children, only the Spirit of Jesus can, so pray!

Parenting Books

  • Gospel-Driven Parenting (Farley) – this book is principle driven, helping parents think through how to bring the gospel into their own lives as parents and into their children’s lives.
  • Shepherding A Child’s Heart (Tripp) – this book is more practical in nature, addressing the heart of our child through the various stages of child development. They also have a follow up book, Instructing a Child’s Heart.
  • How Children Raise Parents (Allender) – I loved this book and go back to it over and over for personal enrichment as a parent. I use some of Allender’s practices with our children.
  • God, Marriage, & Family (Kostenberger) uber-biblical, with a twist of practical. Great for reference and finer concerns.
  • Grace-Based Parenting (Kimmel) – very introductory to gospel-shaped parenting, but good.

Develop Gospel Family Rhythms

  • Develop family rhythms around the Gospel. These are predictable times of worship, prayer and Bible reading. Consider doing them around meals, a time when the family should be gathering together free from the distractions of media. We do this at breakfast.
  • Dont isolate the gospel to predictable times. Integrate prayer, worship, and Bible into every day life. Pray on the fly, sing on the fly, read on the fly. When we isolate we program our children for legalism. Show them the gospel in everyday life.
Suggestions for Family Rhythms
  • Read the a good childrens Bible (or this one). Remember to have fun with your children while learning the Bible. Avoid being uber serious and unrealistic expectations. Keep the time brief to hold the small childrens attention.
  • Do some Scripture flash cards to do over a meal. If you know of cards with better pictures for small children let me know! Use the verses in context, applying them to everyday life for instruction. Put the verses to music or rhythm. Your child will enjoy singing and clapping.
  • Sing Songs together. Teach them songs from CDs, DVDs, and ones you make up along the way.
  • Interact with the Book of Questions and Answers. My kids love this book. They ask for it. They enjoy getting to participate in the gospel rhythms, not just listen to stories.