“Mom, can I go on a missions trip?”
This question came from my 10 year old son after hearing a presentation in church from some congregation members who had been in the Czech Republic for two weeks. After hearing about how they taught VBS and participated in service projects, he was very eager to hop on the next plane!
I’m so excited to see our son’s desire to help others. Mission trips are a great start, yet there is so much more!
My husband and I strongly believe that raising mission minded children is an incredibly important part of parenting! If you want to raise children who think outside their own little world and have a desire to share the gospel with the unreached, I’d like to share with you five ways we are cultivating this type of mindset in our own home with our four children.
Teach Them the Why Behind Mission Work
As we start sharing the importance of missions with our kids, it’s essential that we teach them the “why” behind mission work. It isn’t so we can look brave or make a name for ourselves but it is truly about following the Great Commission and “making disciples of all nations.”
These instructions of Jesus are spoken to all of His disciples because in His wisdom, Jesus knew that ambassadors were needed to spread the good news to all corners of the earth. Meeting physical needs is an important aspect of mission work. Yet we can see in Scripture that the ultimate goal of any kind of mission work is to share the Word so that others will hear the law and gospel, repent and be converted to Christ.
Teach Your Children that Mission Work Takes Place Anywhere
Those who enter foreign missions are blessed with a daring and challenging calling! But it’s also important to remember that we are all missionaries! Our own hometowns have a great need for the gospel, and so we want to teach our kids that they shouldn’t feel obligated to go to a far-off land in order serve on a mission field.
God has given each of us a vocation, or calling, right where we are. For some, this means starting a Bible school in an African nation and for others, this means sharing the gospel as a doctor, teacher or a stay at home mom.
When we emphasize to our children that each of us can be a witness to the great commission any time and any place, it helps them to view their jobs (vocations) with an eternal perspective.
Remind Your Kids That Being a Missionary is Not Always an Easy Task
Often the picture of missions that forms in our children’s minds is one of going to an exotic country, having fun with their friends, doing a couple of building projects or teaching Sunday School and then coming home with an emotional rush. This is not, however, all there is to being a missionary.
In reality, mission work can be dangerous, difficult and spiritually exhausting. It can especially take on these characteristics if you’re called to be a missionary in a country that is suspicious of church workers and hostile to the gospel. There are even times when missions are not well-executed and it’s important to encourage our children to look to Scripture to find the model for mission work. (There’s a resource we are using to help us do this in our home that I’ll share in just a bit!)
My husband and I are praying that God will lead our children to accept His will for their lives, even if that means leaving familiar comforts and heading overseas. That also means being real with them about what it could mean if they receive that type of calling.
Being honest and upfront about some of the risks of missions also helps us as a family remember to pray for our missionary friends! They face strong spiritual battles and it is good for us to “pray without ceasing” for their work. Again, this allows our children to see life outside their own comfort zone and recognize the value in being a missionary, whether at home or in a different country.
Find and Support a Missionary Family
Missionaries, especially those who are removed from their family and friends, need so much encouragement as they go about their work! I’d encourage you to “adopt” a missionary family. For us, adopting a missionary family means that we pray for them by name each day, send them care packages whenever possible and check in with them often.
Some of our dear friends were in missions in Eastern Europe for several years and the kids LOVED sending them cards and letters and looking at their picture, naming each one’s needs as we prayed. Those friends have now moved back to the United States and are involved in a church plant, another type of missionary work! Coming alongside “domestic” missionaries with your prayers and support is important too!
Teach Your Children About Well-Known Missionaries and How God Helped Them
Sometimes looking at the past is the most effective way to prepare for the future. When we learn about the lives of missionaries throughout history, it gives us a broader picture of how God has used people to share the gospel and minister to the needs of all His beloved.
We are currently using a resource called To Every Nation: A Study of 12 Missionaries and Their Great God for our family Bible time. It’s a bit hard to get the 2 year old to pay attention (as with most toddlers!) but our 4, 7 and 10 year old children are eating it up.
What I absolutely adore about this missionary study is that not only does it tell the story of the life of 12 unique missionaries (both men and women), but it teaches Scriptures that relate to a character trait that God cultivated in each of these individuals. This is a very effective way of connecting the Word of God to the many purposes of mission work and how God uses our circumstances to strengthen and refine us in our faith.
There are journaling pages that kids can use during their personal devotional time or during family devotions (which is how we’re using them). They have questions about each missionary and the country they lived in, as well as a chance to dig deeper into the life of each of the missionaries. We have not yet used the Scripture verse copywork (we just say the verse out loud) but that is another great addition to further the study!
To Every Nation is by Kim Sorgius of Not Consumed. If you haven’t used any of her studies or books in the past, I would highly, highly recommend them. She has a variety of Christian parenting materials and Bible studies, with To Every Nation being her latest. They are packed with solid, biblical material and if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that we are incredibly picky about the Bible studies we bring into our home!
You can grab your copy here or click the picture below to find out more about it!
From perseverance to compassion, To Every Nation is a 12-week study of real missionaries and their walk with God through the struggles of life. Through the study of the biographies of these precious warriors your family will grasp the depth of God’s provision, deepen their faith, understand suffering and become equipped to walk through life’s trials.I hope you’ve found some helpful tips that will be a great springboard for teaching your kids to be mission minded so that they want to share Jesus with others!