‘The Great Commission should begin in the home’: Seminary heads stress witnessing to one’s own children
Two seminary leaders have stressed the importance of parents evangelizing their children through teaching and practice, with one declaring that “the Great Commission should begin in the home.”
The Gospel Coalition began its latest evangelism gathering in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Sunday and Monday with a pre-conference featuring multiple speakers on the theme of reaching the newest generation.
Ligon Duncan, chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, explained that he believed the three key elements of witnessing to one’s children were “prayer, example, and teaching, in that order.”
“Pray for your children. You pray for what you care about. I cannot tell you how many testimonies I have heard of the impact of children realizing that their parents prayed for them,” he stated, stressing that “the power of praying parents is unbelievable.”
“My wife had cousins who would sneak next to their parents’ bedroom doors and listen while their father prayed for them by name. And the impact … at his funeral, these two adult women testified to the power of hearing their father pray for them on his knees, by his bed, at night.”
Regarding the theme of “example,” Duncan told attendees that the way that Christian parents act before their children was an important doctrine lesson.
“In your life, you live out doctrine, one way or the other. You either live out true doctrine or you live out false doctrine in your life. And living out the truth shows young people that the truth is true and that you embrace it,” noted Duncan.
“Think of it: by going to church on Sunday and taking your children with [you], you teach them that God is more important than anything else in the world. Why else would you take a day aside to devote to Him if He’s not the most important thing in the world?”
Duncan believed that teaching doctrine to one’s children was an important part of them growing up and accepting the faith, with the seminary head imploring the audience to “catechize your children.”
“It’s very important when we convey truth, theology, doctrine to the next generation, that we understand what it is for, because doctrine is meant to produce certain things in the Christian life,” he said.
“And if it is not producing those things, that we need to quickly check our doctrine and make sure that our doctrine is biblical or we need to make sure that we understand what doctrine is for.”
Duncan recommended various historic catechisms for parents to use, including the Children’s Catechism from the 19th century and the Westminster Shorter Catechism from the 17th century.
Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and professor of preaching and theology, also spoke at the pre-conference on Monday morning, telling those gathered that “obeying the Great Commission should begin in the home, though it certainly should not end there.”
“Parents and grandparents by what they teach and how they live should model for their children a passionate obedience to the Great Commission,” said Akin.
Akin argued that this approach was “strategic,” noting that “good theology and good missiology are more caught than they are taught.”
“There’s a vital role that moms and dads and grandparents play in conveying and modeling for their children, who by God’s grace and for His glory will follow in their footsteps,” he continued.
“Most children, in spite of what the secularists will tell us, they do look up to, they do admire, and they do follow in their parents’ footsteps. What you love, they will love. What you value, they will value. What you have a passion for, they will have a passion for.”
When looking into how to put a “Great Commission DNA” into children, Akin laid out “10 very simple principles” for parents to use.
These principles are practice “incarnational” parenting,” instill beliefs by “the way you love your mate,” “spend time with your children,” “learn to listen to your children,” “read missionary biographies to your children,” introduce children to missionaries, take children on mission trips, teach children about what the Bible says about missions, “pray for the nations and missionaries by name,” and “model missional living.”
“One of the ways that we know God loves us is He entered into our world, He got down on our level and came into our world in the person of His son, Jesus Christ,” explained Akin regarding “incarnational” parenting.
“We love [our children] well by getting down on their level and entering into their world.”
In addition to Duncan and Akin, other pre-conference speakers included Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, former NFL player and author Benjamin Watson, and notable blogger and Bible Study instructor Jen Wilkin.
This year's Gospel Coalition conference is focused on the commitment to evangelize. The event, which ends Wednesday, can be streamed online.