Five Ways to Engage Kids in Missions
Kids value what their parents teach them to value. In my house, I want that value to be the Great Commission, flowing out of a commitment to the Great Commandment. In fact, I tell my kids that the purpose of our lives together is to love God, serve people and reach the world.
That commitment has led my wife and I to a lot of thinking and experimenting: How can we make the mission real to them? How can we create an environment in our home that encourages it?
Here are five ideas we’ve been working on so far:
- Saturate the home with mission reminders. I love adding books about missionaries to the shelves in our living room, which my 9-year-olds eat up as fast as I can provide them. We also have a big world map hanging in the kids’ play area, framed pictures of our sponsored kids, and plenty of international memorabilia around the house (including wooden elephants from India that take a lot of abuse from my five-year-old).
- Share mission updates with the kids. We’re on multiple mission mailing lists, including (obviously) India Gospel League’s. I love reading about what God is doing, and I also enjoy reading the various appeals for special projects and opportunities. But rather than tossing that material after I look over it, I’ve started handing it to the nearest child – “Hey, here’s some mail you can read, all about India!” They love it, and they usually come to me with questions, or even later ask if they can make a contribution.
- Help them meet people from other cultures. Since South Asia has been our family focus in prayer and giving, my kids are very interested in interacting with anyone they can from that culture. One Indian man approached me recently, and with a smile on his face exclaimed, “My, your son knows a lot about my country!” Apparently my 7-year-old found a family from India, and he boldly went ahead and struck up a conversation! He spent a few minutes telling this family about the various mission projects we’ve been a part of and about the barefoot pastors we support through IGL.
- Make missions a daily prayer request. Each of our kids is assigned to pray for their own sponsored IGL child, and they all know about the various leaders and regions we are praying for as a family. One of the most encouraging developments I’ve seen in my kids’ prayers of late is that they have begun praying about all of this unprompted. Our rhythm of mission-focused prayer hasn’t been long or complicated – just a mention during bedtime prayers.
- Talk to them about the family giving. My kids don’t know all of the dollar figures involved in what we support, but they do know what we support! My wife and I decided that we wanted our kids to think in terms of how “we” support the work of the gospel worldwide, not just how “mom and dad” are supporting it. So, we give and pray as a family, and whenever practical, I even allow my kids to add a few of their dollars (or quarters) to our family giving. One of my sons recently was studying a list of giving options from IGL, looked up confidently and said, “Dad, I think the best deal here is the Children’s Gospel Clubs. That’s what I want my money to pay for.” And I’m not going to argue with him. The CGC program might be the best “deal” in missions today – reaching one child for one year for just $1!
Overall, I’m praying that God will use each of my kids to help complete the Great Commission in their generation, just as I’m called to work hard toward its’ completion in mine. Anything I can do to help them catch that vision, I’m game!
How are you engaging your kids in all of this? What ideas do you have that we could add to the list?