Using The FDP
Family Discipleship Plan Guides are simple enough to learn through practice; however, knowing the FDP basics will help you get the most out of every Guide.
Scope & Sequence
The Family Discipleship Plan is organized from Preschool through High School. Each week provides a developmentally appropriate Guide and a Family Devotion or Workout for Preschool, Elementary, Middle School, and High School.
The preschool years are a foundational time. Our lives are built upon the principles learned during these formative years. Consequently, this season of life is also an important time for spiritual foundation. During this season of life, it is crucial for children to begin learning who God is. During the preschool years of the Family Discipleship Plan, parents and teachers have the opportunity to help a child begin to understand who God is and how He reveals Himself to us. There are multiple foundations that are covered annually, then are purposefully repeated each year through Preschool. Each foundation studies Big Truths by focusing on who “God Is” and what “God Gives,” building a conceptual awareness that God is our supreme Creator and Sustainer.
Elementary-aged children love stories. They love to learn and to connect the dots between fantasy and reality. It is during this phase of life that they begin to grasp the greatest story of all: the gospel. As children move through the elementary years, our aim is to ensure they have a clear understanding of the gospel and how they should respond to it. We accomplish this by annually cycling through the metanarrative of Scripture in four parts: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation. Each year the Big Truths and Big Ideas deepen and build in concepts that are developmentally appropriate.
Middle School: Identity
The middle school years are all about identity. Students during this time of life are constantly asking the questions, “Who am I?” and, “Where do I fit in?” During this season of transition and searching, we aim to help them find their identity in Jesus. The theme of identity in Christ is unpacked in a three-year cycle. Middle School students are also introduced to Workouts: a tool to help them Pray, Ponder, and Practice as they study God’s word.
High School: Influence
The high school years are all about influence. Students during this time of life are constantly trying to figure out their purpose in life. They are transitioning into adulthood. In a few short years they will be out from under your care and on their own. During these years our Guides are designed to help them understand and embrace the amazing purpose that God has created and prepared them for, as well as to leverage their influence for His glory. God has uniquely gifted every person with gifts, passions, and experiences that they can leverage to influence others for the glory of God. When we live to make much of Jesus, He becomes our joy and our joy becomes full in Him. This is our prayer for students as they leave their homes and go on mission.
There are 4 themes throughout the FDP: Foundation (Preschool), Story (Elementary), Identity (Middle School), and Influence (High School).
Year / Grade
While Foundation (Preschool) intentionally repeats annually, all other themes cycle through a multi-year sequence. The Year (Middle School & High School) or Grade (Elementary) communicates the Guide’s place in each theme’s sequence.
A multi-week heading that frames the weekly teaching and talking. Focuses are usually 9 weeks in Elementary and a semester in Middle School and High School.
The FDP is organized and presented in a weekly Guide. Each Guide has an overview page easily accessible on the website. The full Guide is a .pdf available for download and contains a one-page commentary for the Big Truth, each Big Idea, and the Bible Story. Additionally, the Guides provide a variety of hooks.
The primary text for the week. Bible Verses are prescriptive and definitive. They are great for memorization and meditation. They, along with the support of the Reference List, proclaim the Big Truth.
The counsel of Scripture to bring increased clarity to the Big Truth and support for unpacking its Big Ideas.
Each week, FDP Guides center around a primary reality. It is a Big Truth. Big Truths are expositionally proclaimed from the Bible Verse and Reference List. All other aspects of the Guides are designed to unpack the Big Truth. (Each Bible Verse / Big Truth has a 1-page commentary included in the Guide to reference as needed.)
Big Truths are transformative realities that have implications. We call these implications Big Ideas. Big Ideas are developmentally appropriate connections and applications that can bring life-changing transformation when worked through. (Each Big Idea has a 1-page commentary included in the Guide to reference as needed.)
Preschool and Elementary Guides provide Bible Stories which highlights a descriptive example of the Big Truth or a Big Idea. (Each Bible Story has a 1 page commentary included in the Guide to reference as needed.)
Middle and High School Guides provide Bible Passages that surround the contextual setting of or cross reference the Bible Verse. While Bible Verses are great for memorization, Bible Passages are great for additional study and examination.
There are four categorical teaching / talking objectives that help us identify and work toward practical goals. They are Know, Feel, Do, and Want.
Hooks are practical activities used in Preschool and Elementary to help families engage around the Big Truth. Every kid is different, so each week provides a variety of hooks to help kids Know, Feel, Do, and Want.
While the FDP is primarily designed to guide everyday conversations throughout the week, through the Preschool and Elementary years the FDP supplies an outline to help families think and talk about the Big Truth in a family devotion setting.
Middle and High School uses Workouts to help students grow in their spiritual discipline and practice. There are 2 types of Workouts: Family and Student. Family Workouts are designed to help families ponder, pray, and practice Big Truths together. Student Workouts are designed to help students establish personal disciplines.
The charge to teach your children to “love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might” is not an easy one, but one worthy of our diligence. While there are so many things involved in a family discipleship plan, there are four categorical aims that every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, guardian, or even child can lean into during this process. They are Know, Feel, Do, and Want.
The “Know” section of the Family Discipleship Plan is built around knowledge about God and His Word. These are things that are crucial for every child and family TO KNOW about the Lord during each phase of life. The goal is that every family would have a comprehensive knowledge of who God is, the main storyline of Scripture, what it means to find your identity in Jesus Christ, and how to leverage the influence of your life for God’s glory. Ultimately, it is our desire that every child and family would have a love for and comprehensive understanding of God’s Word.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:2
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”2 Timothy 3:16–17
The “Feel” section of the Family Discipleship Plan is built around experiences that lead to affections for God. These are things that are crucial for every child and family TO FEEL towards God during each phase of life. The goal is that families would leverage events, trips, experiences, and the everyday moments of life to become a catalyst for affections of wonder, awe, delight, burden, and love for God and others. Ultimately, it is our desire that every child and family would experience the unconditional love of God and would respond in an authentic lifestyle of worship.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!Psalm 103:1
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”Ephesians 3:17–19
The “Do” section of the Family Discipleship Plan is built around capabilities that are attained through a personal pursuit of God. These are things that are crucial for every child and family to have the ability TO DO in response to God and His Word during each phase of life. The goal is that every family would be equipped to do things like study and memorize God’s Word, be able to articulate the message of the gospel, and be able to serve others with the spiritual gifts that God has given them. Ultimately, it is our desire that every child and family would be able to leverage their life for the glory of God.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”James 1:22
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”Ephesians 2:10
The “Want” section of the Family Discipleship Plan is built around convictions that flow out of an abiding relationship with God. These are things that are crucial for every child and family TO WANT during each phase of life. The goal is that every family would have desires that would motivate them to do things like wanting to know more about who God is, wanting to study His Word, and wanting to share the gospel with those who are far from God. Ultimately, it is our desire that every child and family would be driven by convictions that flow out of an understanding of who God is and what He has done for them.
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”Psalm 37:4
“For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”2 Corinthians 5:14–15
Big Truths & Big Ideas
The Bible reveals the truth about who God is and who He has called us to be. Family discipleship diligently teaches and purposefully talks about these truths (Big Truths) and their implications (Big Ideas) to build up one another in the pursuit of Christlikeness (Deut. 6:4-9 and Eph. 4:11-15) . From Preschool through High School, the FDP helps families get started, remain consistent, and developmentally grow in this pursuit.
Each week the FDP guides families to diligently teach and purposefully talk about one Big Truth from the Bible. The Big Truth is the primary focus of the week revealed in the Bible Verse and Reference List.
Use the Big Truths as the main point throughout the week. Bring it up repeatedly. Pray through it as a family. Write in a visible place in your home. Talk about it on your way to school or while you eat dinner. Simply stated, normalize family conversations around God’s big truths. Watch the section about Big Truths in the video!
The Big Truths of Scripture have implications on our lives. They transform our mind and actions. In the FDP we call these transforming implications Big Ideas. Big Ideas guide our meditation and application.
Use the Big Ideas to advance FDP aims: Know, Feel, Do, and Want. Guide your family to understand meaning with increasing wisdom and depth. Capture their emotions, desires, and actions with the revealed truths of Scripture. Watch the section about Big Ideas in the video!
An FDP Guide is the weekly resource carefully designed to help families teach and talk about God’s Big Truths from Preschool through High School. Guides contain the following: Big Truth, Bible Verse, Reference List, Big Ideas, Bible Story (Preschool – Elementary) / Bible Passage (Middle School – High School), Aims, 1-page Commentaries on the Bible Verse / Big Truth and each Big Idea, as well as Hooks in Preschool and Elementary).
At first glance a Guide can appear intimidating, but it is designed to function like an accordion. When folded together in its simplest form it is easy to handle. However, if you want to unfold the layers, there is more to experience. A family’s familiarity with the Big Truth and Big Ideas will also determine what aspects of the Guide are most helpful week to week.
To learn more about FDP Guides and how to use them, watch Family Discipleship Explained.
Devotions & Workouts
Devotions and Workouts are downloadable .pdfs accessible at the top of the Guide landing page
Through the Preschool and Elementary years, the FDP supplies a weekly Family Devotion tool that parallels the Guide. Family Devotions are a good way to kick off each week and introduce the Big Truth, or to review at the end of the week. Family Devotions are written with flexibility in mind. They can facilitate a focused devotion or a conversation around a family meal. Whether you use the Family Devotion as the start, end, or mid-week support, it is a helpful resource. Try a few different strategies until you determine what works best for your family. Watch the video about Family Devotions!
A resource for students with weekly exercises to encourage students to Ponder, Pray, and Practice the Big Truth. Workouts are designed to help students begin to develop independent spiritual disciplines and healthy practices. Watch the video about Workouts!
A resource for parents, grandparents, and guardians designed to complement the Student Workout. The Family Workout parallels the Ponder, Pray, and Practice frame while positioning parents, grandparents, and guardians to provide exemplary leadership, support, and accountability. Watch the video about Workouts!
Hooks are illustrations and experiences that help parents and leaders engage Preschool and Elementary families to understand the Big Truth and Big Ideas each week. Every family is different. Not every hook will work for every family. You don’t have to use them all. You don’t have to use any. As you grasp the Big Truth and Big Ideas, you’ll be led to contextualize and create hooks that best help your family engage.
Hooks are organized according to FDP aims: Know, Feel, Do, and Want. Some hooks are designed for church use, while others are more purposed for home use within a single family. Watch the video about Hooks!
About the FDP
The Family Discipleship Plan is a weekly resource carefully designed to help families teach and talk about God’s big truths from Preschool through High School.
“Would you send your children to a school that lacked an educational plan?” That’s what we asked hundreds of parents in 2014. Of course, all of them said no. The education of our children is too important to be merely reactive. However, when we asked parents, “What is your discipleship plan for your children?” most did not have one. Burdened, we set out to better equip families to talk through God’s truths with greater diligence and consistency.
Paul Mermilliod, Ph.D., Daniel Broyles, Ph.D., and Tri-Cities Baptist Church’s (TCBC) Family Ministry Team began working with the families of TCBC, partnering with Jennifer Thurman, a gifted writer and educator with twenty years of family ministry experience to develop a Family Discipleship Plan. Focused on guiding families to teach and talk (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) about God’s truths, two things were certain. First, the Family Discipleship Plan had to uphold the Bible as the absolute authority; Big Truths are proclaimed in Scripture. Second, Big Truths have implications (Big Ideas) that should be prayed through, pondered, and practiced.
From the beginning, the easy framework of Big Truths and Big Ideas alongside devotions, workouts, and commentary guided parents to teach and talk more frequently, normalizing conversations around God’s Word. As time passed, growth became clear. The Family Discipleship Plan was strategically equipping parents in ways we had been neglecting. More parents, grandparents, and churches began utilizing it and as demand grew, we launched www.familydiscipleshipplan.org, making our plan more publicly accessible.
We pray it helps you and your family make much of Jesus every day, from morning to night and throughout all the journeys in between.
The more faithful we are in handling Scripture, the more meaningful and immediate the impact. Establishing diligent and careful practices of biblical interpretation is essential in discipleship. While the Family Discipleship Plan doesn’t often use words like hermeneutics, it purposes to teach healthy practices of biblical interpretation. These practices are woven into the terminology, format, and varying methods throughout the full 18-year scope and sequence.
First, every Guide begins with a Bible Verse and Reference List. It is the Bible that proclaims Big Truths, not us. Second, words have meaning, and Scripture interprets Scripture. It isn’t enough to know what the text says, we must seek to know what the text means. Big Truths are interpreted by the whole counsel of Scripture. Most of the Big Truths highlighted in the Family Discipleship Plan are not isolated to one or two verses. They are repeated in principle and prescribed in multiple passages which help prioritize the whole counsel of Scripture.
Third, the Big Truths of Scripture have implications on our lives. They transform our mind and actions. In the FDP, we call these transforming implications Big Ideas. Big Ideas guide our meditation and application. They are sometimes explicitly communicated with the Big Truth in the Bible passage. Other times, Big Ideas are general implications of the Big Truth.
For example, the Preschool Bible Verse is Deuteronomy 6:4 which says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” The Big Truth is “There is only one God.” The reference list provides additional support from the whole counsel of Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 1 Kings 8:60; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 4:6; Jude 25). The first Big Idea is “There are no other gods.” It is clearly communicated in the text itself, but conceptually unpacked to ensure the 3 year old grasps the implication, that since God is one, there are no other gods. The next Big Idea is “Since there is only one God, He is the most important being – past, present, and future.” The text doesn’t explicitly state this Big Idea like the first, however it is a general implication of the Big Truth proclaimed.
Using Big Truths and Big Ideas, the Family Discipleship Plan helps families teach the truths of Scripture and talk through the implications while holding out healthy hermeneutical practices with a developmentally appropriate strategy. A studious theologian will notice aspects of systematic and biblical theology as well as mixed methods of study. Throughout the FDP there are intentional doctrinal, meta-narrative, word / topical, and book studies, all exegetically presented around Big Truths and Big Ideas.
The Family Discipleship Plan is the property of Tri-Cities Baptist Church. Tri-Cities Baptist Church affirms the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. We also affirm the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and the Nashville Statement on Human Sexuality, Sex, and Gender.
“We have used the FDP for years and it has made talking about Jesus and God’s Word a way of life for our family.” Dustin & Rebecca
“I’ve seen my friends go from not reading the Bible at all to reading every day through the FDP.” Sarah
“The Family Discipleship Plan is a remarkable gift for Christian families. While most parents understand that God has called them to be the primary spiritual equippers in their children’s lives, they are often paralyzed by uncertainty. What should we do, and when would we find the time? These are honest questions from those who haven’t had spiritual models or mentors in their own lives or whose lives have few margins. The FDP is a trustworthy resource that provides solutions for these dilemmas. It is doctrinally sound, developmentally appropriate, comprehensive in scope, and intuitive in its approach. I am confident that the faith and spiritual understanding of future generations will be recognizably stronger, for those families that commit to follow this plan.” Karen E. Jones
“Churches desperately need guidance in helping families disciple their children. Now we have it! The Family Discipleship Plan is what we have been waiting for. It is biblical, comprehensive and doable. Churches and families will be greatly blessed by this excellent curriculum.” Daniel L. Akin
& The FDP
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