“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
We have a rhyme in Puerto Rico (where I’m from) that says people can be “the light of the square but the darkness at home” (trust me, it rhymes in Spanish). We use that to describe a person who does everything right for “strangers,” while been mediocre with or downright neglectful of their family.
In contrast, while on a trip a number of years ago, I heard Sonlife missionary Mark Edwards say that whatever we learn for our ministry, we should first put into practice with our families. After all, they’re our number-one ministry and responsibility.
After hearing that, I went back home taught my family how to share the Gospel with others, which I’d learned more about on the trip. Luckily for me, my kids were still little and my wife is a godly, wise woman who loves the Lord, so I had good “raw materials” to work with.
If your kids aren’t so young, or you just don’t know how to bring Gospel zeal into your family life, you’re not alone! It’s actually quite common. Fortunately, you don’t have to stay there. Here are four simple ways you can advance the Gospel through your family—and be a great model for your students in the process.
1. Pray for your family.
The apostle Paul instructs us:
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people.” 1 Timothy 2:1
And you know who’s first in line of the “all people” crowd? Your family! Everything should start with prayer. Chances are, you’re already praying for your spouse and children, so I encourage you to intentionally pray that God will make them passionate ambassadors of His message.
2. Talk about the Gospel with your family.
“And the things you have heard me say… teach others.” 2 Timothy 2:2
This is number two on purpose. One of the most powerful things I’ve done with my family is to talk about Jesus all the time. It’s a simple thing that often goes overlooked. My daughter told me the other day, as she was recapping her day to her mom and me (in our bed, mind you): “Dad, it seems we always end up talking about Jesus in this family.” Amen and amen! God is in everything, and the Gospel speaks to nearly every situation. So constantly look for ways to bring up Jesus. Before long, it will become automatic!
3. Model it for your family.
“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT)
Now, your dining room isn’t the pulpit, and your living room isn’t your youth room, so don’t make it weird. Don’t treat your family as students or church members, where they just sit and listen to what you have to say.
A more effective way to Gospelize your family is to model your faith-sharing in real life. You can do this with stories of Gospel conversations you had during your day or by simply being intentional and talking about Jesus with people who visit your home, from the plumber to your kids’ friends.
It was funny when I started doing this, because my family became silent. It was as if I’d stepped into another dimension with the person I was sharing the Gospel with. I asked them why they did that, and my son said they didn’t want to interrupt and say the wrong thing. Since then, they’ve grown into complementing the conversation instead of getting out of the way.
4. Coach your family.
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” Proverbs 1:5
We’ve experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to our family efforts to share the love of Christ with others, but in all of those I’ve tried to coach the best I knew how (not always successfully!).
First, the ugly: Not long ago, my daughter engaged in a Gospel conversation with a friend online. This friend was from a different religion and started to shoot random and not completely accurate facts to discredit Christianity. My daughter came to me for some godly coaching, and I completely blew it. The online conversation became entangled in argument after argument that didn’t lead to the Gospel.
The bad: My wife called me to be her wingman while she attempted to share the Gospel with her older brother. She literally took a card that had the Gospel on it and started reading word for word to him, with little explanation in between. It was painful! Then she asked: “Does this makes sense?” and he said YES! Then she asked: “Is there anything holding you back from putting your faith in Jesus?” and he said NO! Thank God for the power of the Gospel, because that conversation was bad.
The good: My son was talking with some friends on a gaming app, when out of nowhere he asked if anyone wanted to talk about Jesus. Most fled that virtual space, but a girl stayed. After a little back and forth, he came to me for help, and we were able to navigate the conversation. It ended with that girl putting her faith in Jesus! Praise God!
I hope this inspires you to see your family as your first disciple-making responsibility and gives you practical steps to coach them in advancing the Gospel in their spheres of influence.