How Disciple-Making Happens at Home (Article + Video)

How Disciple-Making Happens at Home

By Dan Lovaglia, Awana® Director of Leadership Development.

Parenting can be encouraging and discouraging, and sometimes more than once in the same hour. We deeply desire to know, love, and serve our kids well, but the hustle and bustle of our day-to-days gets in the way. We recognize our children are whole people – physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational beings. In order to help them navigate the realities of life, we get them to school, to sports, to music lessons, to play dates, to church, and everywhere in between. It makes sense, but is this the way disciples are made?

Our children are created and loved by God. They’re cared for and loved by us. But is this what’s getting passed on to them? How we spend our time and money is a reflection of what matters most. Left unbridled, we get going as parents and forget to take time to pause, to reset along the way, if and when it’s needed. Our kids see what’s really going on in our families day in and day out, but do we? Disciple making is happening, but to what end? When we’re constantly racing from one unchecked priority to the next, how can we ensure our kids will come to know, love, and serve Christ for life? We must pay attention to how disciple making happens at home, or our homes will never impact our faith and family the way God designed.

Proverbs 22:6 is a tremendous verse: Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it (NIV). It casts vision, clarifies values, and challenges priorities. Unfortunately it doesn’t define what “the way they should go” is. You see, just by being together as family, we will set our kids heading in a direction – for better or worse. It’s important that we heed Paul’s disciplined approach to spiritual life in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. Training is required if we want to reach the intended goal. Running aimlessly is meaningless; running with Christ-like purpose is faithfulness. This is true in personal discipleship and disciple making as a family. To train up children, parents and other kid-influencers must be heading on the road that leads to life as faithful followers of Jesus.

If you’re serious about finding out and following through on how disciple making happens at home, here are five invitations that elevate the impact of relationship over rules to follow. Every family is different, but we can all embrace similar principles for the distinct disciple making journeys we’re on in our homes.


  1. Draw kids into an unscripted adventure with God. “Follow me.” Two simple words that require the greatest amount of humility and courage imaginable. Salvation is by grace through faith, not following a formula. Jesus never laid out a step-by-step plan for disciples to become like Him. It’s an ongoing process, a life-changing experience that is similar but different for every believer. The more that families can model this “unscripted” reality of disciple making the better. If you want your family to follow Christ, emphasize dropping everything to do so and walking together, not dictating precise steps to take.

As a family, how can your encourage each person to respond to and walk with God personally?

  1. Wrestle with messy faith together. Kids need consistently safe environments to stumble and soar in life. Family is designed to be the primary place this happens. When rigidity gets equated with spiritual life, children find it hard to relate to God and other people well. Life is hard; faith is mysterious. Learning to live in the tension of what the Bible teaches and the unknown is just part of what it means to walk with Jesus. Family members need each other to make sense of the multiple worlds and worldviews that confront us each day. Every home has the opportunity to carve out space for messy to be normal and held in God’s hands.

How can you become more open to the unknown when it comes to matters of faith at home?

  1. Build unconventional community. Everyone needs biological and spiritual family. It’s how God equips us to grow in character and authentic relationships with Him and other people. Young children love to welcome any and all people. It’s only as they age that preference and prejudice start to surface strongly. Disciple making is about being with people the way Jesus befriended people. You can strengthen the disciple making impact at home by becoming part of a church family. You can also build up discipleship by engaging in your surrounding neighborhood. By building bridges as members of the body of Christ, you can experience and extend care, coaching, and challenge that every family needs to grow spiritually.

Would you describe your family’s partnership with church family as strong? Why or why not?

  1. Model Christ’s life-transforming mission. Your family has an amazing opportunity to multiply whatever matters most. You’re leaving a legacy. The question is, “Is the legacy you’re leaving one that you want to keep going?” The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of hope, of truth and grace that totally transforms individuals from the inside out. When the good news of salvation hits your home, it will revolutionize what your family is ultimately about too. You will influence the witness of your kids for Christ by the way you walk with Jesus together. It’s essential that you remain transparent and willing to let God redirect your trajectory toward what matters most in His Kingdom.

What is the most obvious way you and your family has changed because of Christ’s presence?

  1. Equip children for dynamic discipleship. “Turn left. Turn right.” If you had to parent with these instructions for more than a few years, you’d lose your mind. Ideally kids grow and mature. They make their own choices, learn to live with consequences, and adjust their approach along the way. Children of all ages need to be given the tools and resources to live life on their own in relationship with God and other people. This is the dynamic nature of faith. The Holy Spirit guides each person, and somehow this guidance is within the context of biblical community. As you grow, you can pass along what you discover. If you resist Christ-like discipleship, so will your family. Being equipped to equip others is critical for disciple making to happen at home.

What holds you back from letting family members figure things out on their own with God?

So, how does disciple-making happen at home? It’s an unscripted, messy, unconventional, life-transforming, dynamic relationship with God and each other. Following Christ is a far cry from following a detailed itinerary. The same is true for how families form and get transformed – through relationship. It’s unpredictable and yet somehow marked by incredible faithfulness. Jesus modeled the five invitations above. They’ve withstood the test of time for over two thousand years and apply to individuals, families, and churches.

Watch a video interview with Dan here.

If you’re interested in diving deeper into these principles, check out Relational Children’s Ministry: Turning Kid-Influencers into Lifelong Disciple Makers by Dan Lovaglia. You don’t need to be a church or children’s ministry leader to live out the practical approach to discipleship laid out in this new book. Visit to get a free chapter and order your copy today!

Lisa Bohn

Lisa Bohn

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