The most effective on mission Christian to yourneighbor may be the one
gazing backat your child in the mirror
By Tricia Goyer
When many kids hear the phrase “on mission Christian” they think of adults
who work at soup kitchens or travel to the inner city to tell others about God.
What kids need to realize is that we don’t have to travel out of our town to
share Jesus with others—or even out of our neighborhood. Being on mission is a
lifestyle, not a one-time event. In fact, when we give our lives to Jesus, He
wants to use us wherever we are to spread His love with others and at whatever
age. Sharing our faith in Jesus shouldn’t begin when we’re older.
Of course, it’s up to us as parents to teach and model this concept. Moms
and dads can stress that the most effective on mission Christian to your
neighbor can be the one gazing back at your child when he or she looks into the
One of the things my husband, John, and I have attempted to do with our
children is to build within them a sense of community—connecting with people
around us to share Christ. We volunteer weekly at church and in our town. We
open our home to neighbors, and unchurched friends.
We’ve also reached out to John’s coworkers in numerous ways, such as
creating special Christmas gifts or inviting his coworkers to a homemade lunch.
We’re training our children to be on mission in our sphere of influence with
hopes that as they grow older they’ll also feel more comfortable sharing Christ
in their state, throughout North America, and the world.
Many churches have mission education programs such as Mission Friends, RAs,
GAs and Acteens, but it’s also important for parents to capture teachable
moments to bring the point home.
“The first thing parents must do is create an awareness,” says Jim Burton,
team leader for Mission Education at the North American Mission Board. “We need
to help our kids understand our world’s need for Christ and model our desire to
share the good news.”
When children hear stuff on CNN, or read about a specific area, we can help
them think “missions” by forming connecting points. Ask questions like, “How do
you think this recent event will affect what the missionaries in that area are
doing?” Or “What needs do you think those people have that missionaries can
It can be overwhelming to see these huge needs and feel as if there is so
little we can do. There always will be neighbors, friends, and even family
members who need Christ. Prayer helps children to understand we can take every
need before God and trust He has the perfect answer.
The second half of praying, of course, is listening and being aware of God’s
desire for us to obey in following through in reaching out to the people He
places on our hearts. We tell our children that if God continues to place
someone on our mind it’s time to take action, whether it means inviting that
family over for dinner or even calling them up to see how they’re doing. As we
model this, we see our kids doing the same. Recently my daughter asked if we
could go by the bookstore to buy a Bible for her friend who was going through a
Teach your children to pray for missionaries and their needs. Go for a walk
around your neighborhood and pray for each household you pass.
In a world where spending on ourselves is the norm, giving our money to
others is a good way to get our kids’ attention.
An easy way to teach your kids about giving is to start a missions fund at
home. Collect loose change that you find around the house or in the laundry and
store it in a jar. You can give the money you collect from January to June to
the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®, and July to December to the Lottie Moon
Christmas Offering. Or have a yard sale and give the proceeds to your church’s
Once your kids are primed to meet a need, it’s important for parents to help
with the going—actually putting feet to their faith. Some families do this
through summer mission trips. Many families have found this to open their kids’
awareness to those who have great needs, especially spiritual ones. Check out
Families on Mission at www.namb.net/fom.
Of course, there are always other opportunities closer to home. At Christmas
involve your kids in making cookies to give to neighbors with the Jesus video.
Teach your kids that they can be a physical example of Jesus wherever they go.
It’s important to see every moment as an opportunity to reach someone God
brings into our lives. OM
Tricia Goyer is a writer living in Colorado.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC