Barry Joslin (Ph.D, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the associate professor of Christian theology at Boyce College and the worship pastor at 9th and O Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Dr. Joslin lives in Louisville with his wife, Jessica, and their four children, Haddon, Carson, Elisabeth and Mary.
What do you do regularly to disciple your family?
The first thing that I do is to cultivate an atmosphere where the gospel and the Bible are discussed and talked about openly, freely, and regularly. This means that the first person I have to disciple is myself. If I am not in the Scriptures, or if I am not worshiping the Lord at home, then it becomes difficult for me personally to teach my children about the gospel and worshiping the one true God.
If I can boil it down to one specific and essential thing, it is family worship. I am a huge proponent of it. This, to my mind, is the single most essential thing that a dad can do to lead his family in discipleship. My mind echoes with the words of Spurgeon and others who, despite their ministry schedules, made time for regular family worship. We do this every night. I think it is easier to do it every night than to try to remember to do it every other night or once a week. It is simply woven into the DNA of our family, and our children will not go to sleep without their “Bible time,” hymn singing, and family prayer. What this looks like is very simple: since our children are very young we read from a quality Bible story book, and then I say one or two things about the story and how it relates to the gospel and our need of it. Then we sing a hymn and pray together. Sometimes I ask them to name one or two things they are thankful for, or sometimes I ask them an easy question from the story. I think family worship is an absolute necessity and a requirement for fathers, especially given the words of Deuteronomy 6.
I also use the Proverbs a great deal. Proverbs, as you know, are specially designed to teach the young child wisdom. They are the words of a wise parent passing on the wisdom to their child. I read the Proverbs a lot and look for ways to talk about them with my children, especially my boys since they are the oldest. They’re also a great instructional tool when one of the children is showing his or her depravity, if you know what I mean! It’s helpful to use the Proverbs to teach them what the Scriptures say about wisdom, fear of the Lord, and folly. This in turn points to their need for Jesus.
So, if I can sum up, let me challenge all parents, especially fathers, to disciple themselves, lead out in family worship, and look for ways throughout the days to teach and pass on the truth of the Bible to your children. Personally, there is no ministry I love or think about more than this one.
Next: What is the best idea that you have seen in a church when it comes to equipping families to become contexts for discipleship?