The Disciple-Making Parent | A Book Review

In his book, The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ, Chap Bettis brings not only his years of pastoral wisdom to bear on this subject, but also his own experience of raising his four children to adulthood. The idea that the family was instituted by God to be a “Trinity-displaying, God-glorifying, disciple-making unit,” serves as the focal point of Bettis’ message (6). Designed as guidebook that presents biblical principles for parenting in a helpful, engaging, and strategic way, the author intentionally avoids a presentation that would reduce biblical parenting and disciple-making to a step-by-step recipe book.

The Disciple-Making Parent is organized into three major sections which not only provide theological foundations essential for formulating the concept of what a disciple-making parent is, but also real-life, practical direction for leading children through infancy into young adulthood. Unlike well-meaning attempts to present a uniquely Christian approach to parenting, Bettis is thoroughly biblical in his presentation, instruction, and argumentation and is not reliant upon a psychological or human growth and developmental framework. He does this in several ways.

Firstly, the reader cannot go far into this book without noticing the central role of the Holy Spirit in parenting. Discipleship as parenting is theological in nature and necessitates the presence, reliance, and direction of God. Secondly, the framework for child-rearing is grounded in the Gospel and the Great Commission. Parenting is presented in terms of shepherding, teaching, nourishing, and ultimately sending. Thirdly, Bettis intentionally shows throughout the book that like discipleship, parenting is a unique and intensely interpersonal effort of God’s design that bucks against efforts of mass-reproduction.

While the quantity of content may seem inaccessible for the busy parent, Bettis has produced a comprehensive guide that is truly accessible and engaging due to its intentional organization and design. The Disciple-Making Parent broaches on subjects ranging from how to effectively engage the heart of children, how to develop God-honoring communication skills, and how to equip and prepare children to walk by the Spirit of God as they enter into young adulthood. Regardless of whether you are a parent of a young child or your eldest is about to enter college, Bettis has provided biblical principles and practical actions steps to encourage you as you seek to be a faithful, God-honoring parent.

Helpful Quotes:

  1. Your children are watching your example. Your life either commends or condemns the gospel. Your example may be a positive one they will imitate or a negative one they will reject; but it will have an impact. (39)
  2. As stewards, you do not discipline your children for your own peace and quiet. You train them to say “Yes” to you so that later they will find it easier to follow their Heavenly Father. (65)
  3. Biblically speaking, the heart is the control center of a person. It is the most important real estate in your child. (95)
  4. Deuteronomy 6:6 makes clear that the first person who needs to love the Scriptures is – me. Do you want to get the Scriptures into your kids? Start by getting them into yourselves. (134)
  5. The words of God must stand out and be valued. They are not trivial. Our child’s spiritual life depends on them. (152)
Sam Stephens
Samuel Stephens has served in local churches and various para-church organizations relating to collegiate ministry, counseling, and discipleship. After earning a Ph.D. in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Stephens has become a certified member of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and is currently engaged in counseling ministry along with contributing to various writing projects. He and his wife Hannah were married in 2014 and have two daughters.
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