Reviewed by Andrea Toews
What is the subject?
With Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as her basis, Natalie Frisk addresses people who raise and influence children and encourages them in their own Christian spiritual journey as they disciple these younger ones toward a growing relationship with Jesus.
Imperfect parents raising imperfect children have many opportunities to experience the saving grace of Jesus and to show and tell it to children.
Who is the author?
Natalie Frisk is curriculum pastor at The Meeting House in Oakville, Ont., where she works together with a team to create the children’s and youth curriculum that is used by their church and shared with churches around the world. Frisk has a master’s degree in theological studies from McMaster Divinity College and serves on the board of Be in Christ Church of Canada.
Why this book?
As a family life pastor working with a team of ministry leaders, I find myself regularly asking, “How can we best encourage parents, as the most influential people in their children’s lives, that they can trust God has equipped them to lead their own children on the path to a Christ-centred life?”
Parents live in hope that their children will naturally choose the faith of the home they are growing up in. But parents may fear that they don’t know how to spiritually lead their children or that they may get it wrong and lead them astray. I have been looking for a resource that will get parents excited about their role in discipling their children. I expect to share this book with many.
Comment of the book’s theological perspective in light of the MB Confession of Faith
In the same way that our Confession of Faith centres around the truth of the Lordship of Christ, Frisk encourages parents and ministry leaders to have a Jesus-centred approach in raising and working with children. Several chapters provide practical ways of demonstrating our own faith to our children and encouraging them in their faith development.
(I appreciated Natalie sharing her own personal conviction on appropriate age eligibility for Christian baptism. You’ll have to read it to see what she says.)
In an age when parents outsource their child’s development to the “experts” – teachers, coaches, dance instructors – to learn the skills our world values, a natural shift has been for Christian parents to also outsource their child’s faith development to ministry caretakers. Raising Disciples reminds us what is really the most important thing: wholehearted commitment to follow Jesus and claim him as Lord of all. And as parents, we are the ones God calls to disciple, train, and shape our children’s hearts toward loving and following after Jesus.
Who should read it?
This book is a readable and valuable tool for parents of any age children. Frisk writes with authenticity, humour, and regular reminders not to be overcome by parental guilt. The book doesn’t condemn parents or heap on guilt, but rather reminds us that we are imperfect people with the high responsibility of being on mission for the children in our care.
The insightful chapters which combine the cognitive stages of development with practical suggestions for engaging children in spiritual conversations and practices will be useful to anybody who works or lives with children, youth, or young adults.
While we live in the most connected time in history, we also live in the loneliest time in history. Screen time gives us the illusion of connection without the trueness of a physical, honest, and genuine connection that helps us grow and mature socially and emotionally.
We are all being discipled into something. If our kids are not being discipled by us into the way of Jesus, they will be discipled by culture into the way of culture.
The whole world needs to take a deep breath. We need to know and experience the presence of God and the pace of Jesus…. And each of us can help our children take that deep breath and lead them into the knowledge and experience of God. We can invite them to walk in the way and pace of Jesus.
is family life pastor at Eastview Community Church, Winnipeg.