Guest Post by Charity Rios
Ever wonder if your kids are too young to participate in living on mission in your community?
I was at the park with my three boys, chasing my crawling 10 month old, when I noticed my 3 year old animatedly talking to another toddler at the park. Hoping that he was being kind, I tuned in to the scene. Finn (my 3 year old) was exclaiming, “He was in the tomb, there were purple shadows but then He rose again and Mary found Him, He’s alive!” I realized he was telling the little girl about Jesus’ death and resurrection which we had been talking about as a family for months. Finn then repeated this story, complete with enthusiastically waving arms to declare “He’ alive!” The girl stood transfixed by this pint sized story teller and then they continued to play.
I giggled watching this sweet moment and my heart thrilled. When I was first pregnant with each child I immediately began to pray for their salvation and for them to grow more and more in love with Jesus everyday for the rest of their lives. I know it’s easy as Christian parents to breathe a sigh of relief when our kiddos accept Jesus as Savior. This should be prayed for, celebrated and rejoiced in.
However, salvation is not the end of our spiritual coaching work as parents. It is the beginning of leading them into a great adventure with Jesus.
Our number one goal is to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ and the power of the gospel everywhere we go.
I have to show them through my own beliefs, values, and worldview the most important thing in the world is to love God and obey. If I am living missionally, than it will be natural for our family to live with a vision for the Kingdom of Heaven to come to earth; a fulfillment of how Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. He prayed “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Just a few days before the park, we were sitting outside at a favorite taco place where I personally fall in love again and again for their “GQ” (Guac + queso = bliss). Eating on the patio and watching the kids play, we struck up a conversation with an elderly gentleman eating alone near us. As we got ready to leave, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to ask him if I could pray for him. Our conversation had only briefly touched on what church we attended, but nothing else was mentioned about faith.
It felt awkward, but I wanted to be obedient, so I asked if there was anything I could pray for him. He responded that he didn’t want prayer for anything, which of course made me feel more awkward. Our family prayed for this gentleman in the car on the way home that God would meet any need he had and for him to know the love of God in an even deeper way.
Obedience is never wasted.
Just a few days later Finn shared the story on the playground.
I felt like God told me Finn is free and unafraid to share about Jesus because I have modeled boldness, like at the taco restaurant. I have shown him the norm in our family is to offer the love and encouragement of Christ to those around us. Every time I have chosen to sacrifice my comfort to obey the Holy Spirit, I am sowing a seed of boldness in the ground that my children can now stand on.
Does this mean I have always obeyed the Holy Spirit in this way? No, I haven’t. There have been many times I ignored his prompting because I was afraid. I’ve used the excuses that I was too busy or too tired to obey.
It can be easy to think that living missionally has to be saved for a “missions trip” or for those “called to full time ministry.” These lies from satan stop believers from engaging people with the love and hope of Jesus in their own communities.
If living missionally is just another check mark on my Christian parenting to-do list, I will lose my passion and desire to fulfill this command in scripture: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
We weren’t made to be controlled or live a contrived or staged life.
We may be living in a Insta world, but what we crave is an authentic relationship with our Creator and an adventure He could only conceive for us and lead us in.
Here are some practical ways we can stir our own hearts and the hearts of our kids to live missionally:
(I mentioned earlier my kids are young – 3 under 4, two still in diapers. So these ideas can definitely be expanded as your children get older and have a greater capacity, but I want to show you that it is possible to start shaping your family culture right now).
- Cultivate your kid’s relationship with Jesus by reading the Bible together, praying, and worshipping together. Some simple missional-minded questions your kids can ask Jesus are, “God what do you want to tell me today?” “God who can I show your love to today?”
- Consider taking your children to buy supplies and gifts for others in need. Every year I take the kids to pack shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse with toys and toiletries for kids in need around the world. The boys love the opportunity to be a part of picking out tangible items for another child. While it would be simpler for me to just send money, my kids would miss the joy of learning to give to others.
- Talk with your spouse and pray about giving money to missions. While your kids may not know what that means now, as a couple you can speak from a place of authority about the importance of sharing and sacrifice when you are giving to missions. Where our money is there our heart will be (Matthew 6:21). It is easier for me to remember to pray for missionaries that I am supporting financially.
- Learn about a missionary’s location on the globe and pray for them.
- Pray for other nations by checking the news and see which nations are suffering from natural disaster, war, poverty etc. Then you can start praying for them!
- Sponsor a child through an organization like Compassion International and pray for them. Write letters with your kids.
- When your children encounter others who are unkind or difficult, talk to your child about why they may be harsh. I always tell my kids that people are unkind because they need to encounter more of the love of Jesus. I then encourage my kids to pray for that child. I have seen my four year old go from not liking another child who was consistently unkind to him, to praying for him, forgiving him and reaching out to him in friendship. Recently he told me, “Mama I’m not afraid of ‘Billy’ anymore.”
- Have your kids help you sort through clothes and toys and donate them to a family who can use them. We donate to a local group that supports foster families and single parents. I explain to our kids that we are giving because God owns everything and we get to be good stewards of what He has given us. We do this by obeying when He tells us to give things away. I explain their toys/clothes are going to help kids and families who need them.
- Pour generosity onto those in need in your friend circle/church.
- Make it a habit of immediately stopping with your kids and praying for anyone you hear is sick, i.e. their friends, family etc.
- Make it a habit to pray for healing, peace, and wisdom anytime you hear a fire or police siren.
- Step out in faith and ask God to show you one person you can reach out to. Whether that is offering to pray for your checker at the grocery store, or encouraging a mama at the park. Let your kids see you do this. Talk to your kids about how they can share the love of Jesus with people around them too.
- Have your kids ask: “Jesus, is there anyone we should pray for?” Pray together for that person, make a video of your child praying, and send it to them! Their day will be made, guaranteed.
- Consider taking a short term missions trip together.
- Practice serving: bring a meal to a family who just had a baby, bake welcome cookies for a new neighbor, or go with your kids to help an elderly person. Explain, “we are helping this person because we love Jesus and He commands us to love one another. A way we love each other is by serving them.”
- Support a foster family by setting up a meal train, babysitting, or giving baby/kid supplies.
Teaching kids to live missionally = teaching, modeling and training our children to live on mission with Jesus.
I pray for my children to fall in love with Jesus more and more everyday, and to learn the joy and adventure of hearing God’s voice and obeying Him.
What are some ways your family is living on mission with Jesus? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments!
I would love to send you a FREE Audio & PDF Guide with Simple Ways to Grow Your Kids Faith. Click HERE for this FREE GUIDE!