Each time I talk about raising mission-minded kids, I see moms’ eyes go wide. They envision their precious babies leaving them bereft and alone, and surely taking any future grandkids to a far-off tribal location where they’ll probably die of some third-world disease.
RELAX. I have no intention of stealing your children or guilting you into releasing them to demise. Quite the contrary, actually. I want you to be blessed. I want your children to be blessed. How do we do that? By loving God fully and participating in what He is doing.
And what is God doing? He is pursing the hearts of the lost and growing the hearts of His children. That’s missions. It doesn’t have to include a jungle or deep-fried cockroaches. It’s simply a willingness to love Him fully and share Him with those who need Him.
The Great Commission Starts at Home
The Holy Spirit challenged the early church to be “witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. “ (Acts 1:8) Looking at a map of theselocations, you’ll notice this call expands in concentric circles. This presents a great pattern for us, too. The Great Commission starts at home, then spreads outward, perhaps to your neighborhood, then your broader community and so on. You don’t have to rush to Siberia. Look in your backyard first. It’s the perfect place to start.
Raising mission-minded kids involves three things:
- Exciting their spirits
- Equipping them to share
- Elevating their global awareness
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Share engaging stories. Get them excited about God’s goodness and the extent of his love with truths from the Bible and contemporary examples. Read biographies of missionaries or historical figures that have made an impact on the world around them. Tell them about Paul and Barnabas, about the glories of grace and truth, the miracles of redemption and salvation. The stories of Jim Elliott, Corrie ten Boom and Amy Carmichael are excellent options. Search Christian Children's Book Review for age-appropriate choices.
One of my favorites is The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews. This book is not about missions, but about history and the rippling impact of small actions. A sparkle of hope ignites my kids’ eyes as we read it. They see that God wants to use them to reach the world right where they are. I love it!
How to Equip Them to Share
Get out of the way. Kids naturally share what they believe and what excites them. If you excite them about God and what He’s doing, you’ll have more trouble getting them to stop talking than getting them to start sharing. Trust me. When we switched to public schools two years ago my daughter, then seven years old, accosted everyone she met with the love of Jesus. It was a beautifully fearsome thing to behold.
Be an example. If you share Christ freely, your kids will, too. You don’t need to start a street ministry or go door-to-door with tracts. You can, if you want to, but natural evangelism tends to work best – and it’s far less intimidating! Simply be open with your faith. Look for opportunities to incorporate elements of the Gospel into everyday conversations. Point out tangible examples of grace. Ask a friend if you may pray with her or for him about a present trial. Inquire about their beliefs and listen. Ask God to provide open doors and the courage to walk through them. And let your kids watch.
How to Elevate Global Awareness
This step I find most fun. So fun, in fact, that I don’t have space to tell you about it here! You’ll have to come back Friday for tips about prayer walks, pen pals, international dinners, and active partnerships. If you’re a Christian homeschooler, you’ll love this. The resources cross-over geography, social studies and Bible study.
Your Turn: I want to know what you find to be the most exciting truth about God’s character. How can you share that with your kids (or your neighbor) tonight?
Armed with three ridiculous French phrases, Tanya Dennis taught ESL to Chinese students in German-speaking Switzerland. This after working as a church planter in urban Philadelphia and a humanitarian worker in war-torn Bosnia. Her current role, as mother of two, has proven to be the most challenging. Learn more about her and what she's doing now at www.TanyaDennisBooks.com.