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Church Life

Cookouts, Family, and Discipleship



How does family discipleship fit into summer activities?

One simple response is to encourage natural intergenerational relationships.


Just this week, my 20-year-old son unexpectedly reminded me of an event that happened when he was around seven.

That year I was participating in a midweek men’s Bible study. To break up the routine and to celebrate summer, we decided to have a cookout/pool party and then end with a time of prayer. We would also invite our sons to come.

In a low-key way, we cooked, swam, and prayed. (Oh yes, as dads we debated if they should get out of the pool because of the thunder!)

Not a Program
It wasn’t a program. We were just doing life together and wanted to include our children in that. They were expected to come and interact with the adults. Sure they had some swim time among themselves, but the focus was on intergenerational interaction. Dads were asking questions of a couple of young guys. The idea was relaxed discipleship and modeling.

We didn’t have a grand strategy as dads, we were just following Jesus and including our children on that journey.

When I asked my son what stands out about that time over ten years ago, he responded, “I was hanging out with the men. And it was just fellowship. As a pastor’s kid, we always had Bible studies, but this was just fellowship with men.” (It’s worth another article to think about the impact of children seeing adults study the Bible.)

Same Values, Different Idea
My wife did something similar when she had a number of the girls, their mothers, and some older women over for brunch. The stated goal was to hear from the women about how they met their husbands. She hoped to cast a vision for making Christ Lord in this area of their lives.

Again, this was not part of a grand strategy. It was just some women following Jesus and seeking to disciple their children in community with other sisters in Christ.

I am all for intentionality and having a church-wide family discipleship plan. But nothing will ever replace adults who want to disciple their children in the natural rhythms of life.

And certainly, we were not the only ones doing this. Other parents would just naturally suggest something similar. For one it was a camping trip. For another, a ladies breakfast.

What Can You Do? What Have You Done?
As the summer kicks off, begin praying about how you can encourage some natural intergenerational ministry in your church.

Quick question: What have you already done that is similar to this? I would love to hear from you. I am always collecting ideas to pass on to others.