Growing up in my family meant missions was a way of life. We were led by our parents to understand, participate in, and practice missions. Weekly we attended mission education programming at our church that often encouraged mission action. Both my parents participated in domestic and international mission trips. We always understood that the great commission was an active commandment not just knowledge of a biblical location (they taught us that too, by the way).
Over the past few years I’ve grown concerned over the lack of knowledge our kids have and what I believe will result in a lack of passion for missions. Here are three areas I think we might concentrate on in order to increase awareness and very possibly aid in allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to some of our kids and whisper the calling of full-time mission service.
1. Mission Education
How will they answer if they do not know? When polled, most full-time missionaries share that they sensed a call to mission work as a child. Within the Southern Baptist denomination, many share that it was in Royal Ambassadors and Girls in Action (SBC missions education programs for children) that they first realized God was leading them to full-time Christian service.
Helping kids at an early age become aware of mission work both around the world and in their community can help to establish life-long passion for and practice of missions. Find creative ways to help kids become aware of and understand missions. Consider the resources mentioned above or seek out other resources that fit your ministry DNA to help establish a consistent effort in missions education.
2. Mission Projects
Kids today struggle with being self-centered. Mission projects (both local and international) can help raise kids awareness of other’s needs and how they might actually help meet those needs. Local nursing homes, pregnancy care centers, rescue missions, and children’s homes are always thankful for resources collected and donated to their cause.
At your next fellowship include a request for items agreed upon with an agency of your choice as a “ticket” to enter. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, baby bottles, disposable diapers, or any item collected can serve as a mission project to help heighten awareness of mission needs in your community. Financial offerings can assist these organizations, too. A penny drive, a walk-a-thon, or a jump rope challenge can actively encourage kids to personally participate in mission projects.
3. Mission Trips
Mission projects allow kids to understand needs but mission trips actually involve kids in mission action. Mission trips help kids understand the principle, “where the rubber meets the road.” Mission trips can be anything from delivering the items collected through a mission project to actually participating in an off-site mission trip.
Several churches are sponsoring family mission trips where families go to a mission field (around the corner or around the state) and serve a need together. I’m also hearing more and more about Preteen mission trips. Several Kid Min leaders are organizing groups of older children to go together to serve others through a hands-on experience.
Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, HCSB).
How are you including your kids to missions in your ministry?
Since 2003 Bill Emeott has served as a Kids Ministry Specialist for Lifeway. His passions include childhood ministry leadership training and development, leading children’s Bible Study, and being an Uncle! Bill has been teaching children at First Baptist Nashville for ten years.