Thursday, October 11, 2007

Disciple Now: Family to Family

“One of these days I’m going to stop being a procrastinator.” – one of my witty brothers

As a lady in waiting, the Church and Christian literature are giving me two messages: either I should prolong the waiting to learn independence, get an education, and see the world; or I need to be using the waiting time as an active time not only of preparation for marriage, but as ministry to the Church body and the world. The latter has a biblical basis in 1 Corinthians 7: "There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband."

I am not, however, surprised that I often forget to implement this principle. My life is filled with ministry: to my family, to my church, to my world, and to my future husband by way of education and preparation. But my imagination is filled with someday’s. Someday my husband and I will pray together. Someday I will teach my children first-time obedience. Someday these homeschool lesson plans will be implemented. And also: someday I’ll bake bread every week, brainstorm family activities, practice family-to-family discipleship.

Certain aspects of the future obviously have to wait. Someday buying maternity clothes is an obvious example. But God has placed me in my family right now to use my gifts and ideas and convictions in the present tense. Why not bake bread every week right now? Can we do family activities and prayer? If I want to be involved in discipleship, can’t I at least ask my parents if they’re interested in supporting me?

I see the need in our churches for the youth to be mentored. Since it is obvious some parents are not doing this, they appear to need mentors, too. Why not make it a family affair? The last thing I want to do is usurp the parents by discipling their daughters on emotional purity, preparation for relationships, modesty, and dependence on God. But I do feel God calling me to be a part. So here is the plan.

1. Talk to my parents and family about the need, the opportunities, the source of my vision, and practical applications.

2. Conditional on their support and enthusiasm, we together identify families in the church that we want to come alongside.

3. Invite the family for Sunday lunch and a (hopefully less depressing than recently) Broncos game. Talk about church and life issues – intentionally.

4. Keep up contact, via email, letters, phone calls, or getting together. Develop trust relationships and a sense of the most urgent need.

5. Present opportunities to the other family for discipleship, advice, mentoring (whatever terminology makes sense to them): maybe even a family Bible study or prayer meeting.

In some situations something this serious is pushing it, I know. To use Wives and Daughters once again to illustrate, let me describe the relationship between Molly and Cynthia (actually this relationship was typical of Molly’s interactions with everyone). The first time I watched Wives and Daughters, I was struck because Cynthia is the kind of girl who gets on my nerves. She doesn’t take life seriously, and she leaves a wake of hurt feelings and betrayals in her path. But in the movie (and I assume in the book as well), through Molly I learned to love, if not understand, Cynthia. She was being secretive and flirtatious and inconstant to protect herself from the pain she felt at being abandoned or manipulated as a child. She began loving the art of beauty and extravagance because of the shame her mother taught her over being poor. Thus the mother who should have been directing her into mature thoughts and responsible actions was failing to do her job. As a widowed young mother, however, we can see that she needed help all along.

Help finally arrived in the form of a very intimate mentoring relationship known as marriage. Her husband undertook to at least temper her extremes. Likewise for Cynthia, he took her under his wing, praised her, indulged her, listened to her, disciplined her, and introduced her to Molly. Molly in turn decided to love Cynthia, shared her joys, her parties, her philosophizings, even her shopping trips. The heroine of the story could see her step-sister’s good side, and made an effort to draw that out, and even to praise it before their friends and family.

But we regularly see Molly challenging Cynthia to do what was right. Especially in her engagement to Roger, Molly was often encouraging her to do right by him. Molly went after Cynthia until she confessed the source of her depression as her long, loathsome engagement to Mr. Preston. As a friend who stood by her in such a time, Molly earned by her good sense, her faithfulness, and her excellent example, a position as a valued adviser. In the end, Cynthia has grown a bit. Partly this was experience. A lot of it was the dedicated love of Molly and Mr. Gibson. The once flirtatious girl who liked to be liked even if it was only for the fa├žade she put on, who had often bent to the wishes of the stronger-willed around her, finally resolves to “only say yes” to a proposal if it’s what she really wants. Her decision is more slow and considered, seeking the advice of the more mature around her.

By similar commitment and well-placed (much prayed-over) admonishments, I would hope to raise up other families committed to God, gently instructed and helped, without feeling condemned. What impact could this have on our churches if the families who are growing in God, who are faithful to His calling to the Church, will invest in other Church families?


Creampuff_sugar said...

Dear L of L,

I'm curious as to how the "family to family" discipleship has been working out.

We are going through a book called "Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free" and I talked about the post you did on Voddie's book "Family Driven Faith".

Creampuff (My champagne Burmese cat)

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Hm. I often remark how I forget what I blog only weeks later.

October: that dreamy, adventurous month in early fall when all the commitments one made don't seem that overwhelming.

How is it working out? I never tried step one,

and I got discouraged by projected response.

In fact, I submitted to common models of discipleship and volunteered to co-lead a small group for high school girls. God wanted me to, I believe. Maybe it was because I wouldn't step up and try something radical. Who can know?

Thank you so much for commenting, Creampuff! It's nice when readers or visitors "de-lurk." And thank you for the casual accountability.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn