Peripatetic Parenting?

Peripatetic Parenting?

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:7).


The term peripatetic is an adjective for someone who moves around, trekking from place to place. And in history, peripatetic has been often used to modify a style of teaching.


In other words, a teacher who instructs while walking along, from place to place.

Such a peripatetic teacher was Aristotle. The ancient Greek thinker, philosopher and polymath (4th century BC) was known for tutoring his students as they literally followed along behind him. His school became known as the Peripatos denoting the pathway at the north end of the Acropolis in Athens, a favourite meeting place for roving students and teachers.

But of course, the greatest example of such mobile teaching was Jesus of Nazareth.

Capernaum was His ministry home-base, but His was a peripatetic mission: After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him (Luke 8:1).

The disciples of Jesus had to learn on the move, soaking in His words, example, and ministry interaction with people from every strata of Jewish society.

This provides additional nuanced understanding for Jesus’ frequent use of the directive: Follow Me!

Those that did, submitted themselves to His rabbinic teaching in the context of the peripatetic life.

It is therefore no coincidence that later, the Apostle Paul frequently employed the verb walk as an analogy for living a life of discipleship under the Lordship of Jesus.

…even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).

For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

I…beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (Ephesians 4:1).

In each example above – and over 30 times in total – Paul used a form of the Greek word peripateo to illustrate or contrast the Spirit-fuelled life of the Christ-follower.

So, what’s the connection to parenting?

At Bethel this past Sunday, we conducted a child dedication rite for 11 families.

In doing so, we were emphatic that this tradition does not confer salvation on the children – in this case kids from newborn to 8 years old. Those children will enter into an eternal relationship with God through the Person and work of Christ, if – and only if – they embrace the Lord Jesus by repentant faith. 

But the purpose of the practice – and we’ve done it several times in recent years – is to formalize the commitment of the parents.

These mothers and fathers covenant to raise their children for Christ.

They are promising about their children – before their faith community, family members, and ultimately before God – to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 4:6).

So, how does a dad or mom do that in the 21st western world?

Doing so is not very different from how the ancient Hebrews provided spiritual education for their children as they were about to enter the Promised Land 35 centuries ago.

First, is the love for the Lord exampled in the lives and the marriage of the parents. The Deuteronomy 6 passage is emphatic in the words later quoted by the Lord Jesus as the Greatest Commandment:

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (v.5).


The next verse speaks to the intentionality and priority of orienting one’s life to be purposely lived in whole-hearted congruity with one’s covenant relationship with God: 

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts (v.6).


Finally, the result is that the supremacy of God in all of life is to be an essential part of the family’s talk – and the family’s walk.


Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road (v.7).


Takeaway: Peripatetic parenting can begin with 2 practices:

a) at any age, drawing kids attention to the glory of God expressed in the world around us – in creation, in the arts, in science, in history and the events of the day; and

b) teaching them to understand the glory of God evident in every person, as each is created in His image for the purpose of refracting something of His glory.


Each affords an easy transition to explaining –  and together as a family treasuring – the Gospel of Christ.


~graphic by Spekulator at

About Us

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28 The community at Bethel includes a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Young and old, families and singles, English-speakers and those with a French mother-tongue, various ethnic and religious backgrounds. We reflect the make up of the city of North Bay. More importantly though, we are a group of people who Jesus has saved through his work on the cross. By God's plan of redemption we were all brought into one family as brothers and sisters in Christ, given a mission to reach into our world and make disciples for Him. We hope you will find at Bethel a friendly, loving group of people striving to live for Jesus Christ. Whether you are visiting for the day or trying to find a permanent church home, you are welcome to join us as we together seek out Him.