Constructing A Christ-Exalting Home

Proverbs 24:3 says, “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established.” Building a house takes wisdom. Building a house takes intentionality. Building a house takes partnership. How much more a Christ-exalting home?!

How is a biblical—Christ-exalting—home constructed? A Christ-exalting home is certainly not the standard option. It’s not the default model. It is intentional and premeditated. The home on its own tends toward chaos, not Christ.

A family that functions biblically and intentionally does not happen haphazardly. Wisdom, intentionality, and partnership are needed. Where will parents receive the tools they need? Or can they just subcontract the work out and have someone else deal with the messy issues of building up a family?

My goal here is not to layout the “blue print” for exactly what the house should look like. That is not my job. My desire is to point you to the crucial need that we all have to build on the firm bedrock of Christ. I can’t build it for you. But I can and must tell you to center your family’s life on Christ! 

The aim is not merely good kids. The aim is not nice kids, rich kids, or smart kids. It is kids that grow up to love the Lord their God with all that they are.[1] That is the life changing, society changing, eternity impacting desire we must have.

Don’t Sub Out This Building Project

Biblically we see that parents have the primary role of teaching their kids God’s truth.[2] This is true for various reasons. For one, research tells us that students receive only 40 hours or so of biblical instruction each year from their churches. Parents, however, have more than three thousand hours a year in which they’re constantly “teaching” their kids in some way, whether good or bad. [3] 

Parents have the most significant role in their child’s life.

“An extensive study of 272,400 teenagers conducted by USA Today Weekend Magazine found that 70 percent teens identified their parents as the most important influences in their lives… Today’s research supports what the Bible has said for thousands of years: parents have the most important place in their child’s development.”[4]

Parents, you are important! The youth pastor doesn’t want to replace you. The Christian school doesn’t want to replace you. They can’t replace you!

Similarly, Christian Smith concluded after extensive research:

“The best way to get most youth more involved in and serious about their faith communities is to get their parents more involved in and serious about their faith communities… Parents should be viewed as indispensable partners in the religious formation of youth.” [5]

Parents often think that their kids do not really care what they think. However, based on statistics that is not at all the case. Rather, children deeply care about what their parents think and often even crave their time and attention. “You don’t, however, have to look to research groups to see the influence that parents have.”[6] The Bible is replete with texts that tell us this (cf. Ex. 10:2; 12:26-28; Deut. 11:19; Josh. 24:15; Ps. 78:5-6; etc.).

Children and teens today, perhaps more than in any other day, hear not only loads of sub-biblical things but blatantly hostile things towards Christianity thus it is imperative that parents speak loving words of truth into their lives. However, realize that

“Biblical parenting is more than keeping our kids from having sex, using drugs, or going to jail. It is about fostering an awe of God in our children. It is about showing our children their need for a Savior and introducing them to Jesus who alone can rescue their lives from sin and give life that lasts forever.”[7]

Parents have the primary role of spiritually discipling their children.[8] This is what we see in Scripture and this is what makes sense practically (in most cases) because parents have more influencing power over their kids than anyone else. However, that is not to say that others cannot influence children and teens in positive God-honoring ways. Actually, “God’s design is for families to unite and partner with the local church for the mutual purpose of discipleship.”[9]

Children need both the family and the church.

“Parents… have an incredible privilege to point [their] children to Christ and model His grace before them daily. Don’t give that privilege to a pastor or a youth pastor. It is yours alone.”[10]

As Brian Haynes has said,

“The plan from the beginning has been for the church and family to work together for the spiritual formation of the next generation… Innovative? No way. It’s a timeless biblical strategy.”[11]

Today it is normal to outsource everything. If you do not want to do something someone will be happy to do it for you for a fee. We use to cook, now that is outsourced. We use to mow; somebody else can do that too. We use to… but now we have multiple businesses saying they can do it, and do it better. We can outsource many things but we cannot, well, we should not, outsource our children’s discipleship.[12]

God has given parents the responsibility for the spiritual development of their children. No school or even church is as responsible as parents are. It is my desire to teach the next generation of children and youth to love the LORD with all they are (Deut. 6:4-9) yet I cannot do it; at least, not on my own.

This is both very practical and biblical because as I said, parents have both the primary responsibility and ability to teach their children. The church has approximately forty hours a year to the parents three-thousand! 

Parents, you cannot simply outsource your children’s spiritual development. You have the most impact on your children. 


If the coming generation is to know and love the LORD with all they are then parents and churches must come together in partnership. 


[1] “What we want to do with our children is not merely to control them and keep them in order, but to implant true principles deep in their hearts which shall rule their whole lives; to shape their character from within into Christlike beauty, and to make of them noble men and women, strong for battle and for duty” (Rev, J.R. Miller, Home-Making: What the Bile Says About Roles and Relationships in a Harmonious Christian Household [San Antonio, TX: The Vision Forum, Inc., 1882 reprinted 2007], 105).

[2] Cf. Ex. 10:2; 12:25-28; 13:3-16; Deut. 4:9; 6:4-9; 11:19; 31:12; 32:46-47; Josh. 24:15; Ps. 78:1-8; Prov. 1:8-9; 3:1,12; 4:1-11; 6:20; 13:24; 19:18; 20:7; 22:6,15; 23:14; 29:15,17; Luke 1:17; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 2:11-12; 1 Tim. 3:4-5; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:15; Rev. 3:19.

[3] Jay Strother, “Family-Equipping Ministry: Church and Home as CoChampions,” in Perspectives on Family Ministry, 149.

[4] Steve Wright, ReThink, 49.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Steve Wright with Chris Graves, Apparent Privilege (Wake Forest, NC: InQuest Publishing, 2008), 21.

[7] Wright, Apparent Privilege, 62

[8] Ibid., 54

[9] Ibid., 57.

[10] Ibid., 162.

[11] Brian Haynes, Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today (Loveland, CO: Group, 2009), 30. Italics mine.

[13] Thus, as Steve Wright has said, “We must find a middle ground between the extremes and learn how to co-champion the family and the church in our ministries so each institution can function as God intended.” He goes on, “The biblical ideal is one of the family supporting the church and the church supporting the family” (Wright, ReThink, 62).

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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