Mark Driscoll

Driscoll: Practical Pastoral Parenting

UncategorizedJared KennedyComment

“Pastoral Parenting,” part 4 Adapted from “Pastoral Parenting” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009).

While every Christian parent would likely agree with these principles of pastoral parenting, most would also admit they struggle to know how to make this happen practically. So, as a pastor and a daddy, I hope to be of some help.

First, I would encourage all Christian parents to pray to God that the Holy Spirit would give them an ongoing commitment to pastor their own children in love.

Second, I would encourage all Christian parents to continually read good books that help shape a biblical view of parenting.  Parents of teens will be well served by Paul Tripp’s book Age of Opportunity (available at the Sojourn book table).

Third, it is important for Christian families to have friendships with other Christian families so that there is mutual learning about God, marriage, parenting, and the like in community. Getting plugged into a church community group and pursuing friendships with other Christian families is vital.

Fourth, the key is to simply develop biblical habits with your children, such as praying, reading Scripture, and attending church together.

Driscoll: Preemptive Parenting


“Pastoral Parenting,” part 3 Adapted from “Pastoral Parenting” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 66-68.

Sadly, much parenting is reactive rather than preemptive. What I mean is that rather than cultivating a biblically informed love for Jesus and others, some parents are careless in their instruction and correction until a child’s attitude and/or conduct become critically concerning.

Examples include the parents of an angry boy who don’t work with him until he’s facing expulsion from school for fighting and even then merely take him to church, hoping that alone will fix him. Or the junior high girl who has become sexually active with her boyfriend so her parents, who have not pastorally parented, suddenly sit her down to read Bible verses to her without any relationship, hoping that magic will happen and she’ll immediately act differently.

Preemptive parenting means making daily deposits of love, grace, instruction, correction, and trust in the bank of a child’s heart so that when crisis moments come there is a wealth of investment from which to draw. Subsequently, preemptive parenting should begin from the womb when parents should be praying for their unborn child, and include Bible reading and instruction with the children from their earliest days.

One example of preemptive parenting is found in the life of Timothy. He is widely regarded by many as one of the finest and most trustworthy young men in all of Scripture because of his faithful and fruitful ministry with the apostle Paul. Paul recognizes the important role preemptive parenting had in shaping Timothy: “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15).

Driscoll: Integrated Parenting


"Pastoral Parenting," Part 2 Adapted from “Pastoral Parenting” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 66-68.

Because parents are with their children at the most opportune times, they are wise to integrate their biblical instruction as God providentially provides teachable moments. It is wise for families to have regular and planned times for such things as Bible reading, prayer, and worshipful singing. Nevertheless, there are moments throughout the course of a child’s day when his or her heart is open for strategic instruction. A Spirit-led, prayerful parent will capture sacred moments to instruct and/or correct their child as needed.

One example is the common occurrence of one child stealing a toy from another child. The parent present for this inevitable moment can stop what they are doing and integrate their instruction into that teachable moment. This would include sitting the children down and explaining to the child who stole the toy that one of the Ten Commandments forbids stealing and when we steal we are sinning against God and the person from whom we are stealing. We can then explain that repentance includes seeing that what they did was wrong, handing the toy back to the child they stole from, looking that child in the eye and apologizing for their sin by name and asking to be forgiven, the other child looking them in the eye and forgiving them, and then the two of them hugging while the parent prays over both children out loud, thanking God that forgiveness is possible because Jesus died for our sins.

This kind of integrated parenting will help to ensure that the child does not grow up as a hypocrite who knows what to do but does not do it because their instruction was not integrated into their life. Perhaps the clearest command for integrated parenting is Deuteronomy 6:4–9, which says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Driscoll: Parents As Pastors


“Pastoral Parenting,” part 1 Yesterday, I posted an abstract of Mark Driscoll’s article, “Family Dinner Bible Studies.”  Over the next few days, I will post four abstracts taken from a second article, “Pastoral Parenting” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide.  (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 66-68:

Because parents love their children the deepest, know them the best, and are with them the most, they are best suited to be a child’s primary pastor who gospels them, teaches them, loves them, prays for and with them, and reads Scripture to them.

On this point, Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children.”  Likewise, Proverbs 1:8 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching.” Also, Ephesians 6:1–4 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.’ Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Both mothers and fathers are exhorted to make it their responsibility to pastor their children. This does not mean that such things as church activities or Christian school education are forbidden, but rather that they are supplements to the loving biblical instruction of Christian parents.

Driscoll: Family Dinner Bible Study


As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the most impressive things about visiting Mars Hill Church in Seattle was the sermon study guide—which provided helps for both community group leaders and parents.  The “family worship” section of the guide includes a great article entitled “Family Dinner Bible Studies.”  In this section, he provides twelve steps for studying the Bible with your family around the table.  Here they are… The following is adapted from “Family Dinner Bible Studies” by Mark Driscoll in Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter, a study guide. (Mars Hill Church, 2009), pages 69-70.

Step 1. Eat dinner with your entire family regularly. Step 2. Mom and Dad sit next to one another to lead the family discussion. Step 3. Open the meal by asking if there is anyone or anything to pray for. Step 4. Someone opens in prayer and covers any requests. This task should be rotated among family members so that different people take turns learning to pray aloud. Step 5. Start eating and discuss how everyone’s day went. Step 6. Have a Bible in front of the parents in a translation that is age-appropriate for the kids’ reading level. Have someone (parent or child) open the Bible, and assign a portion to read aloud while everyone is eating and listening. Step 7. Parents should note key words and themes in the passage and explain them to the kids on an age-appropriate level. Step 8. Ask questions about the passage.  You may want to begin with having your children summarize what was read—retelling the story or passage outline.  Then, ask the following questions:  What does this passage teach us about God?  What does it say about us or about how God sees us?  What does it teach us about our relationships with others? Step 9. Let the conversation happen naturally, listen carefully to the kids, let them answer the questions, and fill in whatever they miss or lovingly and gently correct whatever they get wrong so as to help them. Step 10. If the Scriptures convict you of sin, repent as you need to your family, and share appropriately honest parts of your life story so the kids can see Jesus’ work in your life and your need for him too.  This demonstrates gospel humility to them. Step 11. At the end of dinner, ask the kids if they have any questions for you. Step 12. If you miss a night, or if conversation gets off track, or if your family occasionally just wants to talk about something else, don’t stress—it’s inevitable.

For your children, the point is to learn what they are thinking about God, to help them know and love Jesus as God and Savior, and to teach them how to articulate and explain their Christian faith. For parents, the point is to lovingly instruct children and each other—thereby creating a family culture in which every member freely and naturally talks about God and prays to him together. In short, the goal is simply that your family would open the Bible and grow in love for Jesus, one another, your church, and the world.

Finally, remember that family Bible study requires a sense of humor, so make sure to have some fun, enjoy some laughs, and build some memories. Discussing the Scriptures is a wonderful way to see into the heart of your children, and to reveal your heart for them and Jesus’ heart for you all.”

Later this week: On Wednesday, I will begin posting a four-part a summary of Mark Driscoll’s article, “Pastoral Parenting”