Welcome to our series “A Peek into the Process” where moms like you share honestly about how discipleship looks in their homes.
Today’s post is written by Jessica Wolsteholm, mom of two, author, blogger, and friend. Find out more about Jessica and her family below.
One of the things I love most about this series is seeing how different discipleship can look in different families. You may not choose the same schooling method or you might disagree on favorite resources — or you might have everything in common, but parenting and discipleship aren’t one-size-fits-all formulas.
So poke around the series and pick up a few ideas or leave a few but most of all — be encouraged to walk faithfully in the direction God leads your family.
Meet the Wolstenholm Family
- Kids :: 2 kids — girl and boy
- Ages :: 9 yrs. & 6 yrs. old
- Schooling Choice :: Public School
When I think back to my childhood, I don’t remember all of the ways my parents were imperfect. But I do remember the love and spirit of God I felt in our home. I remember feeling an open invitation, at all times, to ask questions and have conversations surrounding life and faith. Those two things were beautifully intertwined in our home. Life was faith. Faith was life. It all blended together so that our growth came naturally. My siblings and I didn’t grow to be perfect little Christians – we’ve all had seasons of struggle – but our roots were deep and they remain, flourishing as we continue to tend our faith, even now.
It has always been my goal to establish a faith culture in our home that looks a lot like what I experienced growing up. When I lost my mom to cancer four years ago, I decided to make it my life’s work to carry on her legacy. Oh, my mother wasn’t a spiritual giant and she never taught us about God and faith with a curriculum or crafty project. She simply lived it, imperfectly and authentically.
My parents accepted Jesus right before they got married. They had children right away so I guess you could say we learned about faith right alongside them. They invited us into their growing up process and we got to experience the good, the bad and the ugly of figuring out what it means to be a Jesus follower.
Now, with our own kids (age 9 and 6), my husband and I try to be intentional with discipleship but we make it a simple part of our everyday life so that it creates a rhythm of growth, rather than being something we have to do for X amount of time each day. Our kids attend public school so our time with them is limited throughout the year. I know they won’t be learning about God and faith at school so it’s our responsibility (and privilege) to teach them at home.
I believe that faith begins at home. And when we cultivate a strong faith culture in our families, it leaves deep roots in the hearts of our children.
So what does that look like in our home?
The Discipleship Process
First and foremost, God is the center of our lives. So family time that is rooted in faith is a priority. We keep outside activities to a minimum (usually one or maybe two per season) so we don’t run around from thing to thing with no margin left for family time.
We keep it real.
For too long, children have taken on the faith of their parents like it’s a part to play in life. I don’t want my children to become Christian robots who simply mimic what we believe and do. The more authentic we are with our children about our own struggles and questions, the more real their relationship with God will be. So we apologize when we yell (yeah, sometimes we yell) or mess up. We talk about tough questions we have for God and that sometimes we just don’t know the answer but need to trust him. Faith built on grace and authenticity is long-lasting.
We are connected to our local church and attend and serve faithfully.
We’ve had some rough church experiences over the years (which convinced me even more that faith must be rooted at home) but we still believe in the power of God’s people in community. So we’ll always stay committed to a local body of Christ.
We follow a seasonal rhythm with our family devotions.
Advent, New Year, Lent, Summer, Back to School, Thanksgiving, etc. I have found that building off of the liturgical and school year calendar has helped our family find a healthy cycle for growing together.
We fit simple, faith-building moments into everyday life.
We know it’s not realistic to spend an hour or even 30 minutes in family Bible study. So we use tools that allow us to spend 5-10 minutes at the end of dinner or in the car on the go. Then my husband and I look for opportunities to carry those conversations into the next week or so.
We keep faith tools front and center in our home.
We have a bookcase right near the dinner table and a little display of tools on the wall. This is part of establishing our home culture but it’s also just practical. Because we can see our journal and conversation cards, we’re more likely to stop and use them. There is no shame in making discipleship easy. We need all the help we can get.
Our Favorite Discipleship Resources
All of our favorite resources for growing together in faith can be found in this post. But a few of best are:
What’s In The Bible – this video series from Veggie Tales creator, Phil Vischer, was as helpful to my husband and I as it was to our kids. I had the privilege a few years ago of walking our family through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation using this resource and blogging about it for What’s In The Bible. Read my episode summaries and talking points to get an idea of the amazing Bible journey this tool will take you on!
Halley’s Bible Handbook for Kids – a simple overview of each book and its characters and concepts.
The ICB Translation of the Bible – the best full text Bible for kids to read and understand.
The 5 & Thrive Bible Study Method – this method, which I developed for my own family and the readers of Gather & Grow, has been a game-changer for us. These 5 simple steps (or seeds as I like to call them) can be completed in just 5-10 minutes and allow families to dig into Bible verses to discover a clear, life-applicable take away.
I know that our discipleship process will evolve over the years as our children get older. But I believe that, just as my parents did with me and my siblings, when we establish a faith culture in our homes early on, kids grow up knowing what to expect and valuing their deep roots. Even if teenage attitude and angst puts a damper on what we’ve established, I know those roots are there and will hold them tightly to Christ.
My Advice to You
I’m always encouraging my friends and readers to start early. Even if it seems pointless, like your 2-3 year old just doesn’t get it. . .you are planting seeds that will bloom in time.
Keep cultivating the soil, planting those seeds and watering them with prayer. There will be weeds to remove. There will be dry seasons and pruning. But with God’s help, you are growing a beautiful garden of family faith.
Jess Wolstenholm is an author, blogger and freelance writer. Jess became passionate about developing simple faith tools when she began to navigate the spiritual development of her own young children and launched Gather & Grow in January 2017. Since the loss of her mom to pancreatic cancer in 2012, she’s focused on continuing the legacy of faith started by her wonderfully imperfect parents. Author of The Pregnancy and Baby Companion books, Jess also contributes articles and resources about family and faith to Tommy Nelson, JellyTelly and The Huffington Post. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jess teaching kids at her home church or taking notes for the school PTO. She lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with her amazing husband, Dave and their two miracles, Hope (9) and Joshua (6).