It’s a snow-and-sleet-stay-home-from-work-and-school-day here at our house today. What a great day to read a book about gospel-centered parenting! ‘Cause I’m telling you, there’s nothing like having one third grader sick with flu and twin pre-teens cooped up in the house with a tired mom and a grouchy dad to make a parent acutely aware of his need for grace. [Pause for giant sigh.]
Most parents would probably stay away from a book on parenting on a day when “FAIL!” could be stamped on the living room family photo. But Tad Thompson’s book didn’t beat me up. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Tad’s book makes clear the responsibilities I have as a Christian parent, but it also makes clear the gospel of grace that sustains responsible parenting. Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design encouraged me today. I was reminded that God does indeed expect me to disciple my children, but that through his gospel and his people and his Spirit he also will equip and empower me to do that which he expects.
Here are a few things I like about this little primer on parenting:
- Tad’s writing is clear, engaging, illustrative, and biblical.
- He always goes back to the gospel, both as the core curriculum and motivation for family discipleship.
- The Bible doesn’t say much about parenting really, but Tad teaches from the major passages of Scripture that do (i. e. Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78, Ephesians 6, etc.).
- I appreciated his brief and accessible explanation of the seven categories of biblical teaching that we need to use to train our children: Gospel, the Big Story (biblical theology), the Big Truths (systematic theology), the Great Commission, the spiritual disciplines, Christian living, and biblical worldview. See? I just typed all of those in order without looking back. And though some of these words may scare parents who feel inadequate to teach the Bible to their kids, Tad does a great job of explaining these categories in a way that removes the threat.
- I love how Tad broadens our understanding of family discipleship as training that involves more than just having “family devotions” but as a whole-life curriculum of both planned and unplanned teaching opportunities. And he gives practical suggestions on how to use those opportunities.
- The book is set up for use as a study guide for couples and small groups. At the end of each chapter Tad includes questions that help the reader immediately put into practice the principles he’s given them.
- The suggested reading list at the back of the book is a great resource for parents. (I would add Robert Vaughn’s God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible to the “Big Story” reading list. That short book has connections with two of the other books on his list and is a great introduction to understanding the Bible as a whole.)
This book is a fantastic introduction to gospel-centered family discipleship. I am the pastor for discipleship at our church and I plan to recommend (if only I could require!) this book to every parent in our congregation. I will especially be looking for opportunities to use this to train new and young parents.
In my twenty plus years of youth ministry I have seen the fruit of the lack of family discipleship, legalistic family discipleship, and also loving, grace-based family discipleship in the students I’ve served. It doesn’t matter so much what the youth group does or doesn’t do, or whether your kids go to public, private, or home schools, if they are trained by word and example at home to repent and believe the gospel, they are more likely (though not guaranteed, as Tad explains) to treasure Jesus. If you want to know how to build that kind of family life, Tad Thompson has designed a plan for you in Intentional Parenting.
Oh, and Tad wants to talk with you about his book and about your adventure in parenting at his new blog IntentionalParentingBook.com.