Introduction. The ACFkids Staff

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1 Introduction Every parent has a daunting task ahead of them helping their kids to know, love and serve Jesus. We often talk about discipling another person. But the most important disciples you will ever have are found right inside your own family. It is our sincere prayer and hope that this book & companion study will help you begin and continue to make disciples in your family. Use the book, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity by Reggie Joiner & Carey Niewhouf with this study guide. Read one chapter at a time and then go through the suggested scriptures and questions. This can be done with a spouse, with several couples or with your small group. Be authentic with one another we all struggle and discipling our families is HARD WORK! We hope your time in this study and in God s word will shape how you minister to your kids and how your entire family views God and their faith.may it be as big a blessing to your family as it has been to ours. The ACFkids Staff

2 Read Psalm Lesson 1 The Orange Parent (Intro & Chapter 1) 1. What do you think these two chapters are saying about the way God wants us to build our families? 2. What does it mean for a family to fear the Lord? To walk in his ways? 3. What is your funniest/wildest parenting moment? 4. What parenting technique did your parents use that you have sworn you will never use? 5. What aspect of parenting intimidates you most? 6. The book talks about two statements: No one has more potential to influence your child than you. You are not the only influence your children need. How can your family resolve the tension that these two statements create? What do you want these statements to look like in your family? Read Joshua 24: This is a mission statement by Joshua for his family. Do you have a family mission statement (a statement of your purpose as a family)? If yes, share with the group. If not, take a few moments as a group to discuss what that might look like for each individual family. Challenge: Go home this week and write a simple family mission statement that expresses how your family will live and cooperate with others so that each member can grow spiritually and become the person God created them to be.

3 Lesson 2 Stock Family Syndrome (Chapter 2) Read Genesis This passage is about a famous Biblical family, with A LOT of imperfections. What part of your family life do you feel most dissatisfied with? 2. What is your picture of the perfect family? Where did your idea of the perfect family come from? How does your family measure up to your picture? 3. If Jacob s family lived on our street, we would definitely have an opinion about them! How does your picture of the perfect family and your expectations for your own family, affect how you treat other parents/families? 4. How does the image of what you think you are supposed to be affect the way you parent your children? 5. In the story God is writing in your family, what do you believe He is trying to say (what s the main point)? 6. What unrealistic expectations do you put on yourself as a parent? On your family? Read 1 John 3: The Bible describes God as our perfect Father. How does the way you view God impact the way you view and lead your family? 8. How have you seen God show up in the happy times of your family? How about in the heartbreaking times? Challenge: Go home this week and find a favorite family picture. Display it somewhere that everyone will see it. Make a point to thank God every day this week for the story that He is telling through your family picture. Be specific as you thank Him for particular chapters (good and bad) of your story.

4 Read Deuteronomy 6:4-12. Lesson 3 Widen the Circle (Chapter 3) 1. In the Israelite culture, raising a child was considered to be the job of the entire community. What obstacles in our culture today keep us from carrying on this way of living? What things do we have that might make this easier for us today? 2. When you were young, was there another adult in your life (besides your parents) who gave you good advice and invested in you in a positive way? What impact did this relationship have on you? If not, how would having that other person have changed your growing up years? 3. When you ask your child, Who are you going to talk to about this? will your child have at least one person they can name? 4. What is the value to your family of having other adults in your kids lives that are saying the same things as you? What fears and hopes do you have about other adults being involved in your child s life? 5. What are some qualities that you would look for in a person that you want to widen your circle with? What are you doing to encourage your child s relationship with people outside the home? 6. Do you agree with the statement, As a parent, I believe that one of the greatest values of the church is its potential to provide community for my children.? Why or why not? In what ways do you believe being a part of a community will benefit your child s faith? Read Acts 2:41-47 Challenge: As a small group, list all the ways in which you personally are benefited by community. Be brave and list what might be missing from the community of your group (as told in this passage of Acts). As a family, brainstorm a list of people who each member of your family could widen the circle with. Discuss the kind of people you want to influence each of you. After making the list, personally talk with people who you would like to bring into your circle. Spend time each week talking with your family about how you are each benefiting from the faith community you are a part of (i.e., small group, serving team, etc.).

5 Read Exodus 31:18-32:8, 32: Lesson 4 Imagine the End (Chapter 4) 1. Why was Aaron so easily swayed by the people s dissatisfaction? What does an idol in modern culture look like? 2. How do you feel about this quote: Whenever we define a child s happiness as our ultimate goal, we settle for something far less significant than what God has designed for them or what He has designed them for? What idols of culture cause you to lose your focus on God when it comes to your family & their happiness? 3. Be honest, what are some dreams/priorities you have for your child(ren) as they grow up? Do those dreams ever become idols in your family? 4. Mentally fast-forward to the final chapter of your child s life. Who do you really want them to become? 5. When it comes to your kids, do you ever try to compete with God? How & why? 6. This chapter defines spiritual leadership as Parents assuming the primary responsibility to help their kids take the next step in their pursuit of a relationship with God. What is the next step you need to take with your kids? Read Philippians 1:3-6, 9-11 Challenge: In these verses, Paul is writing a letter to believers telling them what He knows God is going to do in them. This week, sit down as a couple and write a letter to your children. Talk about your hopes & dreams for them. If they haven t yet accepted Christ into their lives, talk about how you pray for that decision. Speak of the kind of person you hope your child will be when they leave your house. Make it personal. Share the letter next time with your small group. Keep it as a reminder to yourself of what you are really aiming for.

6 Lesson 5 Fight for the Heart (Chapter 5) Read Deuteronomy 6:1-5, and Exodus 20: In these verses, Moses is giving rules but he is also giving reasons behind the rules. What is at the center of his reasons for obedience to God? Does this same element show up in your own home in regards to rules and obedience? How? 2. Think about the home you grew up in: What was the approach to rules and discipline in your childhood home? How has that impacted your home today? 3. What is the difference for you in fighting with your kids and fighting for your kids? Give an example from your family of each. 4. Moses makes the point to the Israelites that God can always be trusted. Do you believe this? Why or why not? 5. How does your belief in the faithfulness of God affect your love for Him and ultimately your obedience to Him? How does this same principle apply for you and your children? 6. What are you doing that is earning trust from your children? What are you doing that may be destroying their trust in you? Read Ephesians 6:1-4 Challenge: These verses encourage fathers (and all parents) to not exasperate your children. This week, make a list of each person in your family and what you are most likely to fight about with that person. What is the root of the issue with that person? (Ex: What does each of you really want? It might not be what you re actually fighting about.) Finally, write where you have your best conversations with that person (driving, tucking into bed, playing catch, etc.) Make a commitment to try to work out issues with natural conversations in these ideal environments when neither of you are upset.

7 Lesson 6 Create a Rhythm (Chapter 6) Read Deuteronomy 6:7-9 and Ephesians 5: In Deuteronomy, Moses was giving instruction on how to create a spiritual rhythm in the Israelite family that fit with the natural rhythm of life. What is the natural rhythm of your life? (What are some things you do every day?) 2. Ephesians 5 talks about our choice in how we use our time. What are your family priorities? What are your personal priorities? Do you feel God asking you to make a change in any of these? 3. The term create a rhythm is actually talking about discipling our kids helping them to follow Jesus more closely each day. Practically, how can you be more intentional during everyday activities to disciple your children? 4. Is there anything in your life that is a barrier or distraction to creating some spiritual rhythm in your family? Are you willing to get rid of it? 5. Which of the four times (morning time, drive time, meal time, bedtime) do you most often use to have spiritual moments with your kids? Which of the four do you most often fail to have any spiritual moments? 6. What can you learn from the experiences that led to your own spiritual growth that might help you more effectively integrate faith into your family life? Read Matthew 22:34-40 Challenge: Jesus says these verses cover the entire gospel: God, others, self. Using these verses and the encouragement to create wonder, passion and discovery found in this chapter, take time this week to sit down and write out what you want your kids to become. Write a statement that fits with each of these ideas: God, others, self. You can even do this as a family if you have older kids. Put it somewhere you will see it. Remind yourself (and each other) that this is what you are pursuing as you disciple your kids. Think of at least one practical way you can take a step closer to each of these goals in your lives.

8 Lesson 7 Make it Personal (Chapter 7) Read Psalm 119:9-16 and Colossians 3:1-4, What do these verses say to you about your relationship with Christ and His desire for that relationship? 2. The book says that If you want it to be in them [your children], it needs to be in you. What does that mean for your personal spiritual life? What are you doing well? What needs to change? 3. What things do you want for your children that you need to honestly start modeling for them? 4. How can you be more authentic about your faith and your struggle to grow in your family? What does this look like for you? 5. If asked today, what would your family say were the top three priorities in your life? After answering that question, are there changes you need to make? 6. Of the three relational deposits mentioned (friend, community of parents, spouse), which is the area you most need to focus on improving? 7. What would it look like, in your family, to parent out of your weakness and turn the spotlight on God s capacity? Read James 4:7-10 Challenge: These verses urge us to submit ourselves, our family and our plans to God through prayer and humility. Spend some time humbling & evaluating yourself and identifying the things that restore your emotions and inspire you to grow. What areas do you need to add into your life to further your own spiritual growth? What areas might need to be removed? Write these things down and share them with your spouse or a friend. Commit to adding one thing that will restore and inspire you and removing one thing that is draining you spiritually/emotionally.

9 Lesson 8 Your Story (Chapter 8) Read Matthew 25: This parable contrasts three servants and their reaction to being given responsibility by their master. If you are the servant and your gold is your children, how will you be judged on what you have done with them for God? 2. The book says, The mission of the family is not ultimately to protect your children but to mobilize them to demonstrate God s love to a broken world. How do you feel about that idea? How does that mess with your need to protect your kids and family? 3. Are you limiting your child s story by chaining them to your own weaknesses, limitations, experiences and fears? If so, how can you change this? 4. The heart will gravitate toward whatever offers adventure and significance. How are you practically modeling the adventure, purpose and passion of a life lived for Christ to your children? 5. What kind of faith experiences are you creating for your children? What stretches their faith (and yours)? When was the last time you encouraged them to depend on god to do something in them or through them that they could never possibly do on their own? 6. What words would you use to describe your own view of the nature of God s love? How can you increase your own & your family s experience of God s love? Read Mark 16:15-20 Challenge: Read these verses together. As a couple (or If your children are old enough, as a family) pray that God will show you at least one way you can engage in Christ s bigger story as a family. Consistently pray this together until you feel God leading you to take a step that is beyond your capacity and takes you out into all the world to spread His amazing love. Make a commitment to step out in faith and complete whatever God is asking you to do. Along the way, remind each other to lean into God to give you the ability to do this. Talk with one another about how God is changing your world view.

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