{Teaching Our Children About Missions}

Monday, May 25, 2009

I have yet to meet a mother who does not desire to expose her children to the needs of others. Very well intentioned parents take their children to serve a meal at a nearby shelter. Some even plan family mission trips.

I love these ideas, and plan to do the same with our family as they get older. It is truly my desire to lean our children's hearts toward loving others and counter their natural selfish bent. And perhaps, to encourage them to consider missions as a life-long pursuit.

But an article in last month's U.S. Center for World Mission's publication, Mission Frontiers, changed the way I think about teaching my children about missions.

A common myth Christian parents believe about exposing their children to missions is this:

Children's hearts are so tender, and if we just help them visualize the needs in this world, they will respond unselfishly.

The truth is that our little ones are self-serving and more often than not, immune to others' needs.

A second but most important truth is that:
"Missions is first of all about God, His redemptive purposes and His intention that there be worshippers at His throne from every people group on earth." Nancy Tichy, Mission Frontiers 31:2)

So how do we teach our children to put God's glory first while teaching them to show mercy and compassion? I covet your ideas!

Pajama Mama's Note: I asked my blogging friend, Joy at SAH Missionary to continue the discussion. Check back here tomorrow to hear (or read) her ideas for teaching our children about missions!

4 Creative People Had This To Say:

Jenni R. said...

Hi Kristen: I'd like to think about this some more and maybe comment again, but here's what came to mind right away: The mission trips I took as a high schooler and college student were life changing, the first one especially. I can remember truly being confronted with the needs of others like never before--that I could live for something besides myself! We live in Germany, running a missionary retreat center ministry. So our children are exposed to missionaries often (and living in a different culture themselves). We try to keep the need for others to come to know Christ before them daily as we pray for people we know to know Him. Our hope as they get older is to include them in sharing the Gospel, etc. I look forward to hearing what others say!

Jenilee said...

This was a great post. So true! My husband and I are children's pastors and I want to share this post with our parents! Our long term goal is full time missions and this is the heartbeat of our family. Thank you for passionately sharing about having missions minded kids!

Molly said...

I just recently found your blog and am so encouraged! Thank you! This topic is close to my heart and I am looking forward to hearing what suggestions others have. One of the big things that we are focusing on in our house right now is serving the other people who live right in our home...mainly meaning siblings, which is, oh, so hard for them at times! :) We are all tempted to think only of self, but when we are constantly stretched to be thinking of others God helps us to change those selfish habits into ones that are pleasing to Him. As they grow in their faith, that outlook will help them to focus on the needs of others outside of their home, neighborhood, church, country, etc.

Another suggestion is to get your children involved in ministry in your local church in whatever ways possible...whether that be helping you with a S.S. class you are teaching (could even be cutting things out at home ahead of time or praying for the children, if they can't be in the class), taking meals to someone, visiting others, picking up trash they find at church, and many other ways. We see in the Bible that when Timothy was called to missionary service that he had a good reputation among the brethren, which tells us that he had to have been busy right there in his local church. A lot of times we get romantic ideas about missions in a far off land when we are not involved in our own local church right where God has planted us.

Another practical and fun way is to write to missionary kids...via snail mail or e-mail. It not only helps your children learn about real life from a "missionary" their own age, but it is great fun for the missionary kids, too! :)

Kristen, The Pajama Mama said...

Oh, I love the ideas!!!!

Molly-serving our siblings! Genius!!!! Our home could use a deliberate focus on that about now!

Keep 'em coming! I love it!