Teach Your Children Well: A Step-by-Step Guide for Family Discipleship, By Sarah Cowan Johnson alt

Teach Your Children Well

A Step-by-Step Guide for Family Discipleship

by Sarah Cowan Johnson

Teach Your Children Well
  • Length: 240 pages
  • Published: August 02, 2022
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0381
  • ISBN: 9781514003817

*affiliate partner

Christianity Today Book Award—Marriage and Family

Half of Christian high school students walk away from their faith after graduation. But parental involvement is the most influential predictor of a child's spirituality throughout their lives. How do we parent our kids in ways that lead to lasting faith?

Sarah Cowan Johnson unpacks how parents can have an active discipleship role in forming their children's faith, with age-appropriate insights and strategies for different developmental stages. She shows how we can identify God moments, facilitate spiritual encounters, clarify emerging beliefs, and encourage new faith habits in our children.

Filled with exercises and activities for families to do together, this handbook is an essential resource for discipling children with confidence and creativity.

"What a beautiful book, full of hope, practical wisdom, and real stories that help navigate spiritual parenthood. I'm so grateful for a resource that coaches parents on how to approach spiritual parenting with lots of challenge, grace, and invitations to freedom. It's not anxiety, fear, or shame that motivates, but the real hope of Jesus being present to our children, no matter their age, and in all the ways they are uniquely made. May we all be better equipped to love our children so that they may know the God who loves them, their friends, and their communities."

Sarah Shin, author of Beyond Colorblind

"We would have loved to have Teach Your Children Well when we were rearing our own children. This is a practical book, a boots-on-the-ground book, from a mother who has practiced what she is writing about. Sarah is funny, wise, thoughtful, and great with diagrams that provide a path forward in parenting the child you have. This is not about making the 'ideal Christian child.' It is about how you receive the child you were given, so you can partner with God in growing, training, and celebrating this child. If you are looking for a theologically sound and developmentally savvy resource in your parenting, Teach Your Children Well is for you."

Doug and Adele Calhoun, coauthors of Spiritual Rhythms for the Enneagram

"Teach Your Children Well is written for anyone who knows a child. While aimed at parents, any adult who shares a passion for leading children into an adult relationship with Jesus can benefit from this content. Sarah understands the influence parents have on the direction of their children at every age and stage of their development. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter for parents, pastors, and church leaders provide a process moment for immediate practical application. My prayer along with Sarah's is that we indeed teach our children well."

Virginia Ward, dean of the Boston campus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"This book is so chock-full of good ideas that they started falling out of the pages. A grace-filled reminder that when it comes to discipling children, there is no substitute for a parent. Amen to that."

Justin Whitmel Earley, business lawyer and author of The Common Rule

"Sarah Cowan Johnson's instincts are absolutely right: parents can be the most important pastoral presence in their child's life. Our children need something real to grab on to—from our own life with God, from their own encounters with God, and from the everyday moments when God is close. God is always very close to us. This book is a very practical guide helping parents facilitate the practice of encountering God in the tiny moments of everyday life. This book will absolutely help parents in the work of the spiritual accompaniment of their children."

Jared Patrick Boyd, author of Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide to Your Child's Spiritual Formation

"If we're honest, we've long outsourced much of what it means to raise our children to familiar institutions: schools, media, and churches. We don't mean to do this; it's simply the norm we've come to accept. As a result, even well-intentioned parents miss opportunities daily to form the hearts, minds, and faith of our children. In Teach Your Children Well, my friend Sarah Cowan Johnson offers a better path. Drawing on experiences from Johnson's pastoral and parenting life, this book provides strategies that are theologically robust and incredibly practical. This is a timely resource that will give parents the clarity and confidence to be the primary disciple makers of their children."

Shaun Marshall, pastor and author of Transition Decisions: How to Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Make Your Next Move Now

"If you are looking for a book that equips and empowers parents to train children for a life with God, this is it. Sarah Cowan Johnson brings together head and heart in this insightfully instructive manual for the discipleship of children and families. Teach Your Children Well is filled with creative ideas and authentic stories for every developmental stage."

Lacy Finn Borgo, author of Spiritual Conversations with Children and All Will Be Well

"For such a time as this, for such a world as this: Teach Your Children Well by Sarah Cowan Johnson is a timely book that will revolutionize how you parent your children and think about discipleship toward young people. Beautifully and honestly written, Sarah shares her parenting journey and offers a biblical, relevant, and clear 'discipleship GPS' that points to a healthy parenting ecosystem. Sarah provides a real pathway focused on a foundational spiritual parenting practice while at the same time addressing the real-world issues that are faced by parents every day. Dig in deep—this book will change how you parent your children."

Tim Ciccone, director of youth ministry for the Evangelical Covenant Church

"Equipping parents to disciple their children may just be the most important thing we do to prepare the church for the next great move of God. This book is my first choice for that task. It thrills me to imagine how this book could equip a generation of families facing one of the most spiritually challenging periods in our country's history."

Ryan Pfeiffer, lead pastor of North Coast Calvary Chapel and coauthor with James Choung of Longing for Revival: From Holy Discontent to Breakthrough Faith

Read an Excerpt



1. The Bad News
2. A Little Yeast
3. The Good News
4. Responsive Discipleship
5. Yucky Hearts and Aslan Anxiety: Leading Our Kids Through God Moments
6. Proactive Discipleship
6¾. An Introduction to John Westerhoff
7. Ages Zero to Six: The Experiential Stage
8. Ages Seven to Eleven: The Affiliative Stage
9. Ages Twelve to Eighteen and Beyond: The Searching and Owned Stages
10. Using the First Path Guide
11. Steal These Ideas: Shared Family Practices
12. Following Through

Appendix A: First Path Guide
Appendix B: Family Path Guide


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Sarah Cowan Johnson

Sarah Cowan Johnson is a ministry trainer, consultant, and coach who works with church planters, pastors, and ministry leaders across the United States. She leads seminars for parents on family discipleship to help their children walk in the way of Jesus. She served with the Evangelical Covenant Church as the executive pastor for Sanctuary Church in Providence, Rhode Island, and previously was a staff trainer and an area director for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She is the cohost of The People of the Way podcast. She and her husband have two sons and live in Providence.