Family Discipleship That Works: Guiding Your Child to Know, Love, and Act Like Jesus, By Brian Dembowczyk
Family Discipleship That Works
  • Length: 176 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: October 08, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0996
  • ISBN: 9781514009963

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Family discipleship is one of the most basic ways God has ordained to build his kingdom—and yet most parents struggle to do it consistently.

Amid our busyness, the multitude of different approaches, and our own self-doubts, the deck seems stacked against us. But Brian Dembowczyk isn't here to pile on the guilt or to make us feel like failures. As a parent himself, he knows this struggle firsthand.

In Family Discipleship That Works, Dembowczyk says that the goal of discipling our kids isn't just passing along head knowledge. It's teaching them to act like Jesus. The Bible itself is not just a story but a drama in which we ourselves participate, and our kids have roles to play too. Dembowczyk offers practical advice and a wealth of ideas for teaching our kids to imitate the character traits of Jesus himself as we "act out" the Christian life together.

As parents, we are indeed called to disciple our children to know and act like Jesus. By God's grace, that's a task we can do—not out of guilt but with joy and good hope.

Family Discipleship That Works . . .

  • Invites parents into more active family discipleship without judgmentalism, but with grace and understanding
  • Presents "imitating Jesus" as a new model for understanding and enacting family discipleship
  • Includes practical, achievable advice for parents to live out these principles in their homes

"Brian Dembowczyk speaks clearly and authentically to parents who long to teach their children to know Jesus but feel unprepared, unsuccessful, or hopeless. Brian takes the posture of a fellow learner, shares his own successes and failures as a parent, and invites his reader to take the next step. With the compelling story of the Bible as the backdrop, Brian provides practical steps for both parents and children to know, love, and act like Jesus. As the title implies, Family Discipleship That Works: Guiding Your Child to Know, Love, and Act Like Jesus is truly a guide—each chapter includes the big idea at the beginning, practical insights and suggestions along the way, and questions for reflection and discussion at the end. This book is an excellent resource for parents and small groups."

Cas Monaco, vice president of missiology and engagement for FamilyLife

"C. S. Lewis once described the task of discipleship as making 'little Christs,' and he said the church exists for nothing less. So does the family, as this book by Brian Dembowczyk helpfully reminds us. Family Discipleship That Works encourages parents to help their children become actors in the Bible's story of redemption by learning to act in ways that embody the mind and heart of Jesus Christ. Home, neighborhood, school, and church here become the stage for living out the faith in embodied ways in everyday situations. Imitation of Christ, meet improvised discipleship!"

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"I have known Brian for a decade and trust his commitment to Scripture, his pastoral heart, and his passion for seeing 'the faith that has been delivered once and for all to the saints' also delivered effectively to the next generation. I was encouraged and challenged by Family Discipleship That Works—encouraged to be the example my daughters can imitate, and challenged in specific ways such as asking my daughters for forgiveness when I fail. Parents, pastors, and ministry leaders who disciple kids and teenagers will benefit from reading this book."

Eric Geiger, senior pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California

"In a world where 'it's the thought that counts' Brian Dembowczyk makes a masterful case that kids need to actually live out their faith, and he does not leave you wondering for ideas. Children can and need to act out their faith, for it's in the acting it out that formation takes place over a long period of time. This book is a must-read and an extremely practical resource for anyone who cares about forming the faith of our children."

Matt Markins, president and CEO of Awana and cofounder of the Child Discipleship Forum

"In all honesty, as both a father and a pastor, I usually cringe when I see books about family worship (or parenting in general) because of how many of them heap pressure, expectation, and even legalistic standards on parents. In Family Discipleship That Works Brian Dembowczyk does a wonderful job pointing parents to Christ as hope and a means of discipleship. Brian doesn't shy away from high biblical standards and commands, but neither does he burden parents with them. Rather, he models what he writes about by explaining truth with clarity and grace and dependence on the gospel of grace. This book offers a deep, firm foundation for discipleship as parents, and meaningful, practical steps we can take."

Barnabas Piper, pastor and author

"Family Discipleship That Works by Brian Dembowczyk provides an insightful and transformative approach to raising children in faith. Through practical advice and relatable examples, Brian empowers parents to move beyond mere knowledge and to deeply engage their children in living out the teachings of Jesus. I wish this book existed when we started our journey as parents!"

Ryan Frank, CEO and publisher of KidzMatter

"In Family Discipleship That Works, Brian Dembowcyzk's transparency provides the reader an effective backdrop of authenticity and sincerity necessary to understand the challenge of family discipleship. With historical evidence that family discipleship has never really flourished in America, Dembowczyk provides a way forward with practical suggestions for viewing discipleship through the metaphor of theater. His roles as parent, theologian, and practitioner are seamlessly woven into the book in such a way that the reader can identify with the authenticity of the challenge but also be inspired to think and act in new ways that will increase the effectiveness of family discipleship in the home."

Shelly Melia, professor and program director for the Master of Arts in Children's and Family Ministry at the Dallas Baptist University Graduate School of Ministry

Read an Excerpt


1. Something Old, Something New
2. Follow the Leader
3. Point of View
4. Statues
5. Copycat
6. Mirror
7. Acting Natural
8. Fill the Space

Appendix A: An Example of the ACT Method
Appendix B: A Family Worship Bible Reading Plan


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Brian Dembowyczk

Brian Dembowczyk (PhD, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is associate publisher for Thomas Nelson Bibles. He was previously the managing editor of The Gospel Project, a Bible study curriculum used by over 1.6 million adults, teens, and children each week, and he has also been a pastor, discipleship pastor, and family pastor. He lives in Tennessee with his wife and three children.