Ephesians 6:4 challenges parents and particularly Dads: “don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord”. This was one of many encouragements and challenges during our Ephesians series and one I hoped all parents would take to heart. One of the applications I suggested when we came to that particular passage was for parents to pick a Christian parenting book they haven’t read before and provide a book review for all the parents of our church to read. My article for our Weekly SNAC today is in part me taking up my own challenge!
As I browsed the offerings available for Christian parenting I noticed many parenting books. Some I had read before and many seemed little more than worldly wisdom, but then I came across “the Gospel-centered parent” (New Growth Press). As the name suggests this book starts with the Gospel and works through how the gospel should shape our approach to parenting.
This book is a book of ‘gospel parenting principles’ rather than a ‘how-to guide for parenting’ – which is why it is something I can recommend to all Christian parents with kids still at home. Having said that, this book is most useful to couples expecting a child (to shape your thinking before you get into the trenches); to those coming out of ‘baby-land’ (who after a long period of exhaustion are now asking questions about how to discipline and shape this little human being); and to those who are ready to reform and sharpen what they are doing now as parents.
Rather than be a diatribe on parenting, ‘the Gospel-centered parent’ comes with 10 parenting lessons drawn from scriptural principles. The format requires interaction with scripture and personal reflection. This makes it ideal for parents to use as a guide for discussion and planning. Amongst the lessons are topics such as “trusting God to build your family”, “discipline by faith not frustration”, “walking with your family through suffering” and “perseverance and hope”.
For some parents this book will be hard work because it requires you to do the work of going back to the Bible and thinking about how the bible applies to your parenting situation.
For other parents this book will be an affirmation of the way they already think but perhaps haven’t yet put into action. I wouldn’t describe this as the best book on Christian parenting but I think most parents in our church would find it helpful, accessible and a great opportunity to stop and think about whether we are obeying Ephesians 6:4.
The book ends with a conclusion summarising 15 reasons to train your children in the Gospel of Grace. You’ll have to buy the book to see them all but suffice to say – Christians who parent by rules and laws without the Grace of the Gospel will fail to model the gospel to their children. However, parents who love the Lord first and humbly seek to walk in his way are better able to model repentance and faith in Jesus and are well placed to train their children in the same.