By Alyssa Jones
“We’ve got a lot of unbelievers in this house.” My husband’s words surprised me at first. We were sitting in the living room of friends from church. We had been gathering weekly for community group with four other couples, and we are all believers. Then I heard them—the running footsteps and the laughing from our collective 10 children playing upstairs.
We were talking that evening about Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” What is our Jerusalem? we wondered. Is it our neighbors? Our coworkers? The strangers we pass on the street?
My husband’s comment challenged us to look even closer to home—to look inside our homes. It’s not that our neighbors or coworkers or fellow Nashvillians are excluded from our Jerusalem, but we have before us a mission field in our own homes: our children.
As I thought about the children upstairs—my own son included—the idea that these young people are our primary mission started to make a lot of sense.
Kids are willing to learn.
Kids are like sponges! They love learning new things. Younger kids especially need to hear things over and over. Our one-year-old would ask almost every night for his “Bible” at bedtime, and I tell the same story over and over: “The Bible is about Jesus. Jesus is God’s Son. God sent Jesus to earth and gave Him a family … ”
Encourage kids to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you don’t know the answer. Read the Bible with them. Learn alongside them. The Bible “is shallow enough for a child not to drown, yet deep enough for an elephant to swim.1”
Kids need to hear the gospel.
The Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:30-31)
It won’t do any good to teach kids Bible stories as moral lessons if we don’t lift up Jesus as the greatest treasure. Real heart change—not outward behavior modification—comes from the living Savior. The reason Jesus’ death and resurrection is good news is because there is first bad news: our sin separates us from God. “If we somehow think we never were in hellish danger, we might still admire Jesus, but we won’t love him.”2Not only do kids need to hear the gospel, they need to see it worked out in our own lives. Click To Tweet
Not only do kids need to hear the gospel, they need to see it worked out in our own lives. Pray and ask for the Holy Spirit’s power to guide you in how you think, how you react to situations, how you lead your kids. Be quick to repent and ask for forgiveness, especially from your kids and your spouse. Rest in the sovereignty and goodness of God.
We’re not on our own.
My husband and I pray daily that the Lord would save our son. And if He does, Elijah’s testimony might begin “I grew up in a Christian home …” but it won’t end there. He won’t be a believer simply because his parents are believers. It can start with us—we can plant the seed—but the Lord will make it grow.
Before the Lord ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He gave them a command. Jesus didn’t tell them to get to work, to put their nose to the grindstone and start converting people. Rather, “He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise” (Acts 1:4). Then He told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
That is where our power comes from. Not somewhere within ourselves, but from the Father through the promised Holy Spirit. We are not on our own! Set aside all feelings of inadequacy and fear and let the Lord work through you. The end result isn’t up to you. Whether you are teaching your own kids or a classroom of kids at church, their salvation does not rest on your shoulders. It is a gift from the Lord, and He is happy to give it.
So where do you start? If you’ve never before thought of your kids as your primary mission field, the idea can be daunting. In his book Family Worship, Donald S. Whitney writes, “Family worship is simple: Just read, pray, and sing. You can do that!”
Alyssa Jones worships and serves in kids ministry with her husband at Refuge Franklin, a church plant outside of Nashville, Tennessee. They have three children.