28: Missionaries or Mission Fields

Question: The question on my mind is, "Am I training my kids to be missionaries?" I hope they always obey me, but I really want them to love God and follow Him wholeheartedly. It is hard to believe that they could turn out wholehearted for God when I'm so divided in my loyalty. But, that is what I'm praying for and aspire to direct them

Response: For those who are not familiar with this concept, let me give a little background information. In our group of churches there is a saying that says that your children will either be missionaries or mission fields. I don’t know who said it first (Rick?), but it’s a powerful concept. Your children will be actively trying to reach someone else, or someone else will be trying to reach your children. They will be proclaiming the word of Christ, or they will be having some other teaching proclaimed to them. They will be visionary or will be open to someone else’s vision.

That’s a scary thought! I actually talked to a young missionary once who belonged to a group that I would consider a cult. He had been involved in a Christian church in his youth, so I asked him how he got involved in his church. He said that when he was a teenager some missionaries came by the house and preached to him and convinced him of the teachings of his new religion. What a graphic picture of this concept! How his parents must regret not equipping him to face such false teachings!

So how can you equip your kids to be “missionaries?” Here are a few practical ideas:

  1. Have them memorize some basic gospel verses. (We start with the following ten passages: 1 John 5:13; John 3:16; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; James 2:10; Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 5:8; John 3:36; John 14:6; John 5:24)
  2. Have your kids pray daily for their friends and neighbors who have not yet believed in Christ. This will help them develop a heart for those who are lost.
  3. Teach your kids an outreach program like The Romans Road, How to Share Your Faith Without an Argument, or The Outreach Class.
  4. Get a bunch of Christian biographies for your kids to read. The Trailblazers series is great at telling the stories in a readable fashion. (Not all books in this series are appropriate for all ages.) This will help your kids see Christianity lived out at it’s fullest as it looks from several different vantage points.
  5. Be actively involved in a church where a faith-filled Christian life is lived out and demonstrated by a majority of the members. You and your spouse are only two parts of the body of Christ. Your child needs to see people expressing a whole variety of gifts that the two of you may not demonstrate strongly.
  6. Model it! Devote your own life to wholeheartedly living for Christ and to spreading his message of forgiveness to all who believe.
  7. Have your kids develop a habit of reading their Bibles daily. (Of course you’ll need to model this for them.)
  8. As your kids get older have them read faith building books like More than a Carpenter (Josh McDowell), Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Josh McDowell), and Five Crucial Questions about Christianity (Tom Short).
  9. Talk often with your kids about their purpose in life. If they do not have a strong clear purpose to live for they could give their life to anything and anyone.
  10. Most kids are followers or leaders. While we would like all of our kids to be leaders, some are not naturally bent that way. We tell our kids that they need to lead out, or at least follow people that are making good choices. We would be very reluctant to let a “follower” be overly influenced by peers until we are confident that they can lead out with a gospel mindset. Don’t release your kids too soon.

Of course it is hard to give a definitive ten point all inclusive program. Those are just a few starter ideas. The reality is that we all need to seek God’s guidance and wisdom with each of our kids. I would not assume that passing on our faith or heart for God is going to be an automatic slam dunk. Being evangelistic (or even just different) is not easy for most of us. This will be a fierce battle for our kids especially when they hit the teen years which is when kids are so easily obsessed with what others think of them. Pray for wisdom. This is no easy task.

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