Approach for Parents in Sword
of the Spirit Communities
by Bob Tedesco
Our mission involves evangelism,
service, discipling (local and world-wide),
community building, etc. These elements can
further break out into their own subdivisions.
For example, evangelism can subdivide as adults,
our children, non-members’ children, etc.
Discipling can subdivide as to adults and
children. In this article, the topic is somewhat
focused on raising our own children to be
In a community setting and over the passing of
time, we can drift into parenting approaches
which might be described as “natural” but
infused with Christian overtones. Decisions for
the family are more often influenced by the
school culture than by the kingdom of God.
Schedules, activities, recreation, etc. can look
almost identical to the world around us. This
approach to parenting does not produce
disciples…certainly not radical disciples.
In the Sword of the Spirit network of
communities, we have a paper called “Raising Up
the Next Generation”, which provides a strategy
for parenting for radical discipleship. We can
draw the overall vision from that.
First, perhaps most importantly, are we
radically (wholly, thoroughly, entirely)
committed disciples? Are we all in? Is it our
identity? Is it our passion to see the
kingdom of God here on earth? Do we think about
the mission a lot? I think it was Benedict who
taught that you cannot lead anyone beyond where
you are and usually they will trail behind about
two steps. If we use natural parenting
techniques we won’t get radical disciples. If
our children become radical disciples it will be
due to the good work of someone else and/or a
sovereign work of God (which is always needed).
We know that parenting is not all of the
equation, but if our way of life and parenting
teaches that low commitment Christianity is a
viable option…they will be unprepared and
unprotected against the enemy that stalks them.
“You are a
chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation, a peculiar people, that you
should show forth the praises of him who has
called you out of darkness into his
We’re to be a “peculiar
people; not “normal”. As Christians we should
stand out not only in the way we raise our
children, but also in our expectations for them.
As followers of Christ, we should look somewhat
odd, somewhat unusual, and somewhat uncommon.
We’re called to be a unique people; a ‘peculiar’
people. How we live and raise our children
should look oddly different from the secular
culture in which we live. It would be wise to
question – are we trying too hard to fit in? Are
we just trying to go with the flow? Are we
committed to the call to community? Is it ‘our
way of life’ or just one part of our life? Those
are all questions we should be asking ourselves.
If community is just one slice of the pie, it’s
not going to look like discipleship to the
children we’re trying to call on to our way of
life. We want to take seriously the call to
follow the Lord and make the rest of our life
support that decision. That would mean grabbing
your life by the neck and saying, “You’re going
to support the decisions that I’ve made. You
will follow the Lord. You will
make the kingdom first!” Many other areas of
life will try to lead you in different
directions, e.g. your boss, school, your job or
career, etc. You have to grab your life by the
neck and say, “You will make the kingdom
In the Sword of the Spirit one of
the common scriptures we refer to is Ephesians
6:4, which says, “Fathers, do not provoke
your children to anger, but bring them up in
the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
That’s the scripture we refer to most in raising
up our children. If we had initiations courses
in this area of parenting, we’d see that
scripture used a lot. The word ‘discipline’
usually makes us think of punishment. But
‘discipling’ our children and instructing them
in the ways of the Lord is also a part of it.
Some ways in which we ‘disciple’ our children
would include: teaching them to take a prayer
time at an early age; engaging them in family
prayer and scripture; encouraging them in some
area of service without monetary compensation.
Our Summer Camp program encourages our children
to memorize scripture. It teaches them at an
early age that scripture is important and they
should memorize it. They are being instructed in
the Word of God.
From Matthew 28:18 “All authority has been
given to me. Go, make disciples… teaching
them to observe all I have commanded you.”
This scripture should be coupled with the above
scripture from Ephesians. If we consider the
whole span of parenting, the goal is to make
disciples. This scripture from Matthew is
an apostolic one: go forth and make disciples.
What could be more important for parents and for
the community as a whole than discipling our
children? We’re not just raising our children to
be good, decent, moral human beings. We’re
called to be raising up disciples. For
parents, that means following Jesus’ example
from the gospels and using every teachable
moment, e.g. mealtimes, car trips, etc. Even
those moments when discipline is necessary can
be turned into opportunities for training and
instruction. Fathers should be encouraged to
take their God-given role as the authority
figure and head of the house and not leave these
tasks to the mother.
Some of the elements of discipleship may be
worth mentioning here. Such things as prayer,
service, tithing and corporate decision making
are all a part of making a disciple. Corporate
decision making is an important one to teach our
children – to learn the importance of making
decisions with the input and discernment of
other trusted brothers and sisters. That’s a
part of discipleship.
There is a lot of talk these days about
‘intentional’. It started with ‘intentional’
community. We have heard of intentional
discipling, intentional pastoring, and
intentional relationships. How about
‘intentional parenting’ for discipleship?
Intentionally introducing the elements of
discipleship on purpose for the sake of
raising our children for the Lord!
repeatedly said, “Follow me.” In Matthew 4:19 he
said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of
men. There is another in Mark 2:13-14 He
went out beside the sea, the crowd gathered
around him and he taught them. And as he passed
on he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at
the tax office and he said to him, “follow me.”
And he rose and followed him. That’s the call.
“Follow me.” It is not just a call for us
individually, but it is also a
The call to be an inter-generational community
was a part of the People of God from the very
beginning. Some of us in the People of God
community had older children when we began to
build community, and we had a concern for them
from the start.
In the early 90s we passed on to the region the
trans-generational call. The Sword of the Spirit
has given us so much: all of our initiations
courses, the template for community…so much!
Passing on the call to be inter-generational was
our gift to the Sword of the Spirit. In the
early 90s we took that call to the communities
in our region and said, “The Lord is calling us
to be after our own children to receive the call
we have received.” The communities in the region
enthusiastically received it. That was followed
by an invitation to present the
trans-generational vision internationally as
well. Here, too, it was warmly received. So this
is our little gift to the broader Sword of the
Spirit and it’s an important one.
“Follow me” is the call. It’s an
inter-generational call. The word
‘inter-generational’ or ‘trans-generational’
says something about us transferring it to our
children. We want, as parents, to be able to
transfer the call that we have received to our
children. Do we have that expectation? Do we
believe that our call to community is also their
The Our Father implies that we are part of a
family. We say, “Our father…give us…
our daily… forgive us… as we…
lead us… deliver us. It is not
just a nuclear family, but a much bigger,
broader family. It is our call to expand the
Father’s family by making disciples, and we
begin with our children.
The Youth Culture
One of the blocks to forming our
children into disciples is the broad spectrum
area of the youth culture and the accompanying
problems we encounter as parents in our efforts
to curb its influence in our families.
The amount of time we allow our children to be
invested in after-school activities can be key.
If your children are overly committed to
activities, too much of that will shape and form
the child in the mold of the world. Activities
are good for scholarships, etc., but too much
ends up producing a child who’s just like all
the other children rather than a disciple. If
they spend all of their time in activities and
very little time in the kingdom of God they
will, in fact, become ‘normal’. Have you seen
normal? Look around. What’s ‘normal’? Is
‘normal’ what we want for our children?
The Decision to Work
If we allow our children to take on
the responsibility of having a job we should ask
some key questions: Where? What hours will they
be working? Will they be home for dinner and
shared mealtimes? Will they be available for
Lord’s Day? Will they be able to attend
gatherings and Sunday church services? Teaching
them this kind of responsibility should be
coupled with developing a heart for the things
of God and seeing them as a high priority for
We should remind our
children of the purpose for courtship. In the
SOS we say that sex is for marriage; marriage is
for family; family is for the kingdom of God.
That’s our stand and that’s the biblical stand.
If they aren’t ready for marriage, why are they
Choice of University
should do everything we can to keep our
children in a local Christian community or
Kairos environment (our university outreach
programs throughout the Sword of the Spirit
regions). We should try to block them from
entering “party schools” and schools known
as leaders in the fallen culture.
Choice of Career / Job
It seems today that every person who has an
aquarium thinks they are called to be a marine
biologist! We should help our children with that
decision. We should help them to know that if
they’re called to get married they will need a
career that can support a family. If I followed
my hobbies, I would have attempted to make a
living by building model airplanes! Professional
athletes and some others have been able to make
a living at something the rest of us would call
a hobby. But in sports generally, only 1 in 1000
are able to make money at it. The rest of us
just have bad knees!
Be careful with the cell phones, T.V., computer,
gaming (especially for boys), social media and
all the ‘tech toys’.
If all the time spent on Instagram and Facebook
were put into something useful what would we
have? We’d have a lot of PhD’s!
Recently, Mike Shaughnessy posed a thought
provoking question: “Are we more interested in
raising church-going, conservative,
white-collar, educated suburbanites or saints,
missionaries and martyrs? He encouraged us to
address that question personally. Do we really
want to raise a child who can be a disciple? Who
can be a saint? A missionary? Or a martyr? Or do
we just want a conservative, church-going,
educated, mostly ‘normal’ child?
Using What We Have to the
I would encourage involving our children in the
social aspects of our life in community – Summer
Camp, retreats, Youth Group, Lord’s Day, etc. as
they create links to other parts of our
community life. These events, particularly for
high schoolers, should be seen as a priority
over work, school activity and sports. They
should be more important.
Sword of the Spirit
Regional Events and Programs
We should maximize opportunities for sending our
children to University Christian Ooutreach
retreats, GAP years, and Kairos regional
conferences. It is a corporate venture because
it involves more than just the parents. Many of
us are now empty-nesters and we could say, “Why
does that apply to me?” Our single
brothers and sisters could ask the same.
But all of us – singles, parents, empty nesters,
and grandparents can be involved in encouraging
our young people to attend regional events like
the YES Retreat, mission trips and youth events.
We can participate by contributing financially
so that all of our children have the best
opportunities to engage other young people from
across the region and hopefully encounter the
Lord! It is a corporate call. It is a part
of our mission; the most important part!
Reaching and winning our young people should be
one of our highest priorities. We should curb
our own materialism so we can set aside finances
for these things. We should be tithing and
expecting the Lord to bless our efforts. In
Malachi 3:10 we read, “The Lord says, ‘Put me
to the test if I will not open the windows of
heaven and pour down for you overflowing
The last line of the Old Testament says, “He
will turn the hearts of the fathers to their
children and the hearts of the children to
their fathers.” Malachi 4:6. Some
translations say ‘parents’ rather than
‘fathers’. It is generally not a difficulty to
turn the hearts of mothers toward their
children, so the better translation would read
‘fathers’. The second half of the verse
says, “…or else I will come and strike the
land with a curse.” It hasn’t happened yet
because we’re still here! We still have time!
The Lord is in it! The call is to your children,
not just to you. As singles, the call is to
these children, not just to you. As
empty-nesters and the entire community – the
Lord is in it with us! So we can all can count
A Prophetic Word for
Mothers and Fathers
The following prophetic word summarizes the call
we have received from the Lord to raise our
children to be disciples; to be saints,
missionaries and martyrs:
MOTHERS AND FATHERS IN THE
SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
I have called you and prepared you to serve me
And I have also called your children and
to march with me in the battle.
Have you given your children permission
to join me in the battle?
Have you trained and prepared your children
to join me in the battle?
Have you given your blessing to your children
to join me in the battle?
There will be sacrifice for your children, but
what I have called them to will be the
fulfillment of what you have hoped, prayed
and prepared for.
I call your children to join me as I called you
to join me, to be a part of my battle as
I march on to victory.
Let go of your children so that they may follow
me and so accomplish what I have formed them to
in the advancement of my Kingdom.
Bob Tedesco is past President of the North
American Region of the Sword of the Spirit.
He is a founder of the People of
God community in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, USA, and has been one of its
key leaders for the past 45 years.
above by Don Schwager