When you first start telling people you’re going to have a baby, people start asking questions you’ll have to answer over and over again— “Do you know what you’re having?” and “Do you have a name picked out?”

As for my wife and I, like many couples, we wanted to be “surprised” by the baby’s gender. But we also wanted to be surprised as soon as possible! Whenever you find out it’s a surprise, right? Needless to say, we were up for a gender-revealing ultrasound every time. 

One of the reasons I was always happy to find out “boy or girl” is because I wanted to start praying for this child by name as soon as possible. I wanted to invite others to do so as well. Of course, you don’t need to know the baby’s name to start praying, but in our family it was our delight to start asking the Lord for blessings over baby Oscar, Gus, or Theodore before we had even seen their faces. 

For us,  family discipleship— the spiritual leadership of our home as parents—  started for our children before they were even born, and while it has evolved as our kids have grown, I have three charges for parents of infants and toddlers as it regards your family discipleship today.


If the only version of family discipleship that you’ve imagined is some kind of deep theological conversation, reading, or lectures then it may be hard to wrap your mind around how you’ll disciple someone who is non-verbal, immobile, or illiterate. Let me implore you to start immediately! People don’t “age into” discipleship. If you want family discipleship to be a normal rhythm for your family, start the rhythm right away. It is never too soon to start the spiritual leadership of your home.

It might be a form of family discipleship where your child is present but not participating, but don’t let a day go by without exposing your child to the reading of God’s word, the prayers of God’s people, and the songs of God’s church. 


To disciple a person who has simple needs or simple understandings start with simple discipleship. Think of how you can read, pray, and sing with or for your child. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be a huge production. Simple and faithful is enough. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be a huge production. Simple and faithful is enough. 

For the Griffin family, discipleship began as reading the Word over our children, around our children, and to our children. Our kids saw our devotion to God modeled in the way they saw us reading our Bibles and attending our church from their first days.  

It’s never too early and never too sophisticated to pray over and with your children. As your child begins to talk, invite them to repeat after you as you pray simple short phrases to God. “Repeat after me, ‘Dear God… Thank you for today… Thank you for my family… Thank you for Jesus… Please protect us from sin… Please forgive us for our mistakes… Help me praise your name… Amen.’” 

Singing to an infant is a common occurrence, but think about how you might sing blessings over your child or blessings to your God in gratitude for this child.  Children are far from voice critics; you don’t have to have a radio-caliber voice to make your house a house of praise. 


Before our children were born, we selected a “life verse” for each of them. When they were infants in their cribs we would recite these life verses over them. When they grew into toddlers we invited them to repeat some of the lines of the verse after us. Now that they are old enough to memorize Scripture we often ask them to recite their life verse as we get ready for bed or recall their life verse in moments of obvious application to their situation. What we started before they were born is still ongoing. 

There are some very simple rhythms you can start now that will set your family discipleship up for intentionality and consistency as your kids and family grow. Consider how your meal routine, your bedtime routine, or your discipline routine might be a holy rhythm that starts in infancy and grows into adolescence with your children.

As you get ready to eat, pause as a family to thank God for his provision. As you eat, talk about what God has done for you and now is doing around and through you. Sharing a meal together as a family is a formative rhythm and it can start early and stay consistent. 

As you get ready for bed, choose a scripture to read together. When your kids are younger it may be shorter or simpler or more narrative and as they grow it may be more philosophical and esoteric. Pray with and for each other. Sing a song.

As your children make mistakes or hurt one another or you, speak consistently of our grace for one another and the unflappable love God has for sinners. Demonstrate and require genuine repentance as you think about how you’ll apologize to and around your kids. Create some language of expressing and reveling in forgiveness as it is extended to and within your family. 

Whatever your family discipleship ends up being for your family, and there are endless varieties, please don’t wait! This is a call to every parent today— it can be more fruitful and fun than you think, even in diapers.