by Scarlet Hiltibidal
In gathering information for this post, I Googled “homeschoolers weird” and this picture popped up and I haven’t stopped laughing since I found it.
(Photo credit: https://icanhas.cheezburger.com/)
Don’t worry—it’s okay. I can Google that because I homeschool one of my children.
Cats in crocheted hats aside, homeschooling my oldest has given me a fresh perspective and appreciation for discipleship. You may be a group leader discipling a bunch of young marrieds. Or maybe you teach Sunday School to their grandparents. But no matter what your tribe looks like, God has given you a group of people to disciple, and these three things I’m learning as a homeschool mom can help you as you seek to faithfully disciple.
1. Teach for Understanding
When I was in school, I remember rejoicing each time we’d wrap up a math lesson because I thought (think and will always think) math was the worst and I knew that once we closed the chapter on whatever incomprehensible concept we had to pretend to care about, it was OVER and we could move on, whether we understood it or not. I could keep a low profile, take my grade and MOVE ON.
Homeschool is different. When you have just one (or a few) students, you don’t have to rush to move on to a new concept if your students aren’t understanding something. The homeschool community I’m a part of emphasizes that we teach concepts for understanding, not to check off a box. If my daughter doesn’t understand geometry, the tutor I will pay to teach her that, because come on now I’m not Jesus, will camp out until it clicks.
Disciple making can take the same approach. Look at how Jesus led. All over the Gospels, we see Him telling parables to teach these important truths about His kingdom. Yet, we also see Him explaining these stories often. In Mark 4, after telling the parable of the sower who sowed seed on good ground, He explained it to His confused followers.
“Then He said to them, ‘Don’t you understand this parable…’” and He went on to help them understand.
In the same way, when you’re leading your group, don’t use your leader guide or your handout as a thing to get through before the service ends or the babysitter bell rings. Use your guide as a guide, but camp out on concepts or questions that need to be grasped.
2. Let Them Lead
The homeschool program I’m working through with my daughter is classically based, so she is memorizing the history of the world and these crazy hard concepts that we will unpack as she gets older. But something I love about our program is that in the midst of the work we have to get done, we can explore ideas and time periods that interest her more in depth.
When you’re leading your group, you may find that a certain study you’re doing or even a format of study isn’t working for your group. Maybe you’re using video teaching and the discussion time is falling flat. Or inversely, maybe you’re trying to go through a book together and people aren’t completing their weekly reading before they show up.
Just like I can tailor my homeschool routine to my kid, you can tailor your group to the people in it. Every so often, make it a point to ask your group what they’d like to study in God’s Word and how they’d like to study it.
If they are always the ones setting the direction, discipleship in the group could easily get out of balance, but every once in a while they might just tell you exactly where they need to grow.
3. Bring it Back to Jesus
This is my favorite part about homeschooling — the fact that I can weave the gospel into everything we discuss. We can look at world history and see God’s hand, or see how people turned from God, or see the effect that Christianity had on that culture. We can even look at math (only the cross can make math meaningful) and talk about how it reflects the order and unchangingness of the Lord. We can discuss how even in our best efforts of being perfectly ordered and perfectly good, we fail, and so we need our Savior desperately. I love that I get to do that with my little sheep.
You can do that with your sheep, too. Small groups can have a tendency to get off topic and talk about lighter, easier, less kingdom focused things. But, as the leader, you have the ability to bring each conversation back to the gospel. You have the ability to take each story shared and each dilemma delved into and shine the light of Jesus into it, pointing everyone in the group to our source of Hope.
In short, there may be a few truly weird homeschoolers who own cats with knit hats, but I hope that my homeschooler will grow up to be weird in the way Jesus said she would. I hope that in taking my time to teach, sometimes letting her lead the way, and always pointing her to her Savior, I can raise the weirdest little homeschooled world changer. And I hope that you can do the same with the people in your care.