Families break out: growing kids’ passion for mission and evangelism
As Christians, we're called to 'break out': mission and evangelism is a crucial part of our faith. Part of parenting our kids for faith is helping them become passionate about mission and evangelism so that they care about it and own it.
In this seminar, we’re going to help you find your family’s next steps on that journey. It will look different for every family and because you are the expert in your family, you will be able to pick what will work for you.
Expose them to the fruit first
When we’re thinking about mission and evangelism, we often jump to activity. What missional activity can we do? What resource might be useful? But if we jump straight into doing mission, we can skip the discipleship of the heart: understanding the WHY of mission. If kids haven’t understood the beauty of a life transformed by God, mission can sound like a chore: ‘We do it because Jesus asked us to, or because we want people to know God, or because we’re called to do that.’
But we want our kids to be motivated to do mission, not see it as a chore. So surround your kids with stories of transformed lives. Share your stories of transformation; gather people and ask them to share their stories of how God has transformed their lives. Ask older teens, grandparents, friends at church, so that your kids feed on that fruit. Feed them stories of international and urban mission, where whole communities are transformed. Find video stories, read books about mission, research mission organisations. If you expose your kids to the fruit, they will get the ‘why’.
Help them understand what we’re talking about
We all know that the words ‘mission and evangelism’ come with baggage. We have our own experiences and preconceptions that colour our attitude to it. We might associate it with street preaching, or being dragged half way across the world, or embarrassing conversations with friends. So it’s important to frame for kids that the essence of evangelism and mission is that it is what bubbles out of us when we are full of God.It’s an expression of our relationship with him, not an obligation or a performance. At its core is the idea of being prepared to share your life and talk about it.
So sometimes it will be jetting off across the world, but it might also be an unexpected conversation – and everything in between. And the best way to help our kids understand that is to share the stories of the ups and downs of your experiences of mission and evangelism; what the fruit was, how you felt; what happened. This gives your kids a window that shows them mission is an ordinary part of an ordinary walk with God. And then also expose them to other expressions of mission so they get a full picture of the range of what mission and evangelism is.
See the difference between passion and giftings
God has designed each of us for particular purposes, which include times when we will be engaged in mission. As you encourage your kids, it can be tempting to see their giftings – she’s an amazing musician, he’s great with kids, they are natural leaders – and gently direct them that way. But rather, start with what your kid is passionate about, what is naturally bubbling up in them. Some are natural evangelists, some are passionate about justice. In scripture we see that God takes people’s passions and then gives them gifts to facilitate the passion. Our passion and call come first; our giftings follow.
So as we explore with our kids what evangelism and mission might look like for them, help them identify their passion. You might notice what’s on their hearts and stirs them. Or you might want to suggest they chat to God about his call for them. And you can ask questions to help them hear their heart, questions like if you had £50,000 to spend on someone else, what would you spend it on; if you could change one thing about the world what you do; if you could snap your fingers and change something about this community what would it be. Expose them to different issues and help them spot their passion, because kids will work hard for things they are passionate about.
Surf the waves of whatever they are currently passionate about
Kids’ interests ebb and flow as they grow: that’s a natural part of their development. They’ll be passionate about apologetics, then that will crash. Then something else will come along and they’ll be interested in water aid. Don’t worry about these changes! That’s a completely normal part of kids’ faith and our job as parents isn’t to force a wave of interest to continue but to jump on board with waves – tiny or huge – and facilitate them with that. For as long as the wave of interest lasts, facilitate it and encourage them. And keep an eye out for the next wave.
And also pay attention to what you as a family, a team, are naturally passionate about. Your kids have their own journey of mission, but your family has one too. Once you’ve discovered that, you know what you are naturally positioned to do for the body of Christ as a family.