Write It On Their Hearts: Practical Help for Discipling Your Kids – Chris Swain and Melissa Swain

Write It On Their Hearts: Practical Help for Discipling Your Kids by Chris Swain, Melissa Swain
Published by Good Book Company on August 1, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Parenting

Family life is often very busy! There are so many things competing for time and attention. Kids are also influenced by many different things. How can we make sure that we are making the most of our time with our children to lead them spiritually? And what is the best approach?

This practical guide gives parents a systematic approach to discipleship that goes beyond rote memorization. Author Chris Swain applies to the family context the principles of discipleship that Jesus teaches in Scripture to help you make the most of the time you have with your kids, to both lead them to Jesus and to encourage them to be like Jesus.

“Discipleship happens when we spend intentional time with our children. It is in these moments that God writes his word on their hearts. He does the writing, but we help create the atmosphere for this to take place.” (From the introduction to Write It On Their Hearts.)

Write It On Their Hearts features:
• a model of discipleship developed by Replicate Ministries that is based on Jesus’ encounters with his disciples
• a discipleship plan that you can tailor to each child
• practical help and advice for Christian parents on how to disciple their kids

This book is filled with great practical advice for Christian parents, and the author’s unexpected death before its publication gives it even greater poignancy, especially when he talks about how little time you’ll have left with your children before they grow up. The foreword explains about Chris Swain’s death and legacy, and if you usually skip forewords, this is definitely one to read. Melissa Swain, Chris’s wife, completed the manuscript based on his original draft, and I admire her commitment to finishing his work and blessing other families with it.

Write It On Their Hearts: Practical Help for Discipling Your Kids shares a simple model for understanding children’s spiritual formation, and Swain writes about common themes such as listening to your children, holding them accountable, and helping them learn how to study Scripture for themselves. He shares clear, practical advice for all of the topics he covers, often using acronyms to help parents remember different things. He acknowledges that it is much easier to talk about discipleship than to live it out, but he provides a clear on-ramp for parents to start engaging more intentionally with their children, and avoids unnecessary debates over nonessential issues. This book isn’t legalistic at all, and people who are leaving legalistic backgrounds may find it especially helpful, since it emphasizes the most core, essential elements of spiritual formation without the baggage of man-made rules.

Personally, I would have appreciated a chapter about how to disciple your children through physical and emotional suffering. Like most parenting books, this one assumes that the biggest issues your family will face will be an abundance of activity and a shortage on time, and I wish that it addressed how families can navigate significant hardships in a godly way. This doesn’t affect my rating of the book, since it’s extremely rare for parenting books to address how to handle a child’s suffering, but I hope that other authors will address this dimension in the future.