This past month, I had the privilege of leading a parent/child dedication at the church where I am a pastor. I thoroughly enjoy standing before the congregation reminding them of the importance of church and home partnering together in the spiritual development of the next generation.
One of the verses I shared was Ephesians 6:4 which says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
Dads, what does it mean to bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?
I will answer the question with thoughts I share with parents requesting their child be part of a parent/child dedication at my church.
- As parents, they are the primary spiritual influencer in the life of their kids. This is supported by a national survey by Search Institute titled “The Most Significant Religious Influences,” where teenagers were asked to identify what factors influenced them to have faith. Their answers were quite revealing: Influence #1—Mother; Influence #2—Father; Influence #3—Pastor; Influence #4—Grandparent; Influence #5—Sunday School; Influence #6—Youth Group; Influence #7—Church Camp; Influence #8—Retreats
- I remind them of the truth of the Word of God from Psalm 78:1-7, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and Ephesians 6:1-4 which explains God’s plan for parents.
- I reassure them they are not alone in this calling of “bringing them up”. The church and home should partner together. It is not either or, but both and. We as the church equip parents to pass on faith at home by sharing resources, giving opportunities to learn how to pray, bless, worship and read the Bible together as a family, and praying and encouraging them along the way.
- Finally, I share how parents bring their kids up in the “discipline” & “instruction of the Lord” by teaching them how to pray, worship, read God’s Word, serve, etc. This is not a one-time explanation, but is repeated over and over again. Instruction is the explanation of who God is from Scripture and reminding our children of what God has done and is doing all around us on a daily basis.
It is a joy as a father to be empowered by the Holy Spirit as I bring my kids up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
Dads, join me in passing on faith to the next generation.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
By J.L. Martin
Husband to Bethany
Dad of 4
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Pastor of Children and Family at Hesston MB Church
 For the complete results, see Mark Holmen, Faith Begins at Home (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2006), p. 43.