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Living On Mission With Kids

"You can’t be on mission to your kids, if you don’t take your kids on mission." Tweet this

Our church family is blessed with a lot of kids. I mean, seriously, a lot! Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3)… and sometimes it feels that way. Sometimes just looking into the face of a child can remind you of the goodness of God. Sometimes the things our children do can teach us about God’s character. Sometimes we grow in ways we never would have before by teaching our children.

But look, I get it - sometimes the reality of raising our kids is downright difficult, stressful and hectic. Sometimes the simple thought of getting our kids dressed and out of the house seems completely overwhelming. So it’s no surprise that one of the biggest obstacles we come across as a church striving to engage in God’s mission of reconciliation to the world is the question, “What do I do with my kids?”

One of the more encouraging answers to that question is the reminder that your kids are part of the mission, too. We are called to train our children up in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) and to be diligent about teaching them God’s Word, both in intentional times of study and in teachable on-the-go moments (Deut. 6:7). Basically, we're called to disciple our children, just as we're called to go and make disciples of all nations. Children are unmistakably part of God’s mission of reconciliation.

It can be a great comfort to tell yourself you are not engaging in missional living in other areas of life or with the church, because you are currently devoted to being on mission to teach and train your kids.

It can also be a copout.

If we are going to be on mission with our kids and disciple them in the ways of Christ, we must do this in the same way we are called to make disciples of any other person - in the same way we ourselves need to be discipled - in the same way Jesus discipled.

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Jesus called people to follow him and to live life with him. Along the way, he not only taught them but he took them on his mission. He showed them how he came to heal the sick, restore sight to the blind and raise the dead. He didn’t just tell them of it through Scripture. He showed them. Then, he asked them to take part in it. He sent them out two by two. He asked them to see what resources the crowd had before he fed the five thousand. Ultimately, he sent them out with the power of his Spirit and asked them to do things they never could do on their own.

Your discipleship is no different. And neither are your kids.

If you’re going to disciple your children, to teach them God’s Word and how to live in God’s ways, then this teaching must include doing. The learning must include action. Your children must see you living on mission and answering the great commission Jesus gave to go and make disciples. Our kids must see us feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, serving our church family, and speaking Good News to those around us.

Then, ask them to take part in it with you. You will eventually have to send them out on their own, so equip them now by asking them to live on mission with you. Ask them to take part in things they could never do on their own, because you are there to help - and more importantly, so they can learn what Jesus said; that he is with them always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

Discipling your kids and training them up in the way they should go is inseparable from taking them with you on God’s mission to bring Good News of reconciliation.

Don't be afraid of bringing them along to serve with your missional community. Allow your missional community to help you with your kids and be part of discipling them. Take them along with you to serve others. Don't wait for the perfect missional opportunity that is easy for kids or entertaining for them. Bring them into God's mission in everyday life.

Pray for Our City

Last night at the dinner table our three-year old asked if she could pray. Her words were simple and convicting: “Jesus, make it not sinful in our city. Make it a new city, Jesus. Bring us a new city."

Wow. I was blown away…and humbled. It was a reminder that sin is everywhere in our city. It was a reminder that Jesus cares for the city of Phoenix and cares for the souls of those we are surrounded by each and every day. It was a reminder of how I need to be consistently praying for Phoenix and every other city we occupy. It was also a reminder that I'm called to make disciples throughout the city God has placed me--the city God has has placed our church.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah prophesied that God’s people would be held captive in Babylon for seventy years because of their sinful and rebellious hearts toward God. With that being the case, God told the Israelites that they should make the best of the situation.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare" (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

“Seek the welfare of the city” or “seek the shalom (peace) of the city.” The term shalom conveys all aspects of peace, safety, security, welfare, and prosperity. Even though God’s people were captive in a city not their own, God commanded the people to get married, have kids, plant gardens and build new lives in Babylon. The exiled Israelites were to care for the city and the people that surrounded them.

Just as the Israelites lived as foreigners in Babylon, we, too, live as resident “exiles” wherever we are, and we are to abstain from the sin and lusts that bring down those around us (1 Peter 2:11-12). As God’s family of missionary servants, we are called to show the city around us the marvelous light of Jesus, doing good works and seeking peace where we can (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 12:18).

Are we seeking the welfare of our city? Are we praying that the Spirit of God would transform the hearts of the over 4 million people who live in the Phoenix metropolitan area? Are we praying for our city's leaders? Are we praying for our neighbors? Our colleagues? Our teachers? Our first responders? Our coffee shop baristas?

How are we personally seeking the shalom of our cities? Are we engaged in our communities? Do we know where brokenness lies in our city, and are we intentionally seeking to bring new life to that brokenness--through education, politics, business, finance, foster care, recreation, etc? 

I'm thinking and praying through these questions (and more!), and I'm asking God to show our Church of the Cross family how best to bring shalom to the Phoenix Metro area, both in gospel word and gospel deed.  Will you join me in this prayer?

As we live our everyday lives with gospel intentionality, let us press on to remember that someday Jesus is coming to make a new city—a new Jerusalem. This city will no longer be marred by death, injustice, racism, pain, pride or brokenness. Jesus is coming to make a new heaven and new earth, and he will dwell with everyone who belongs to the family of God (Revelation 21:1-4).

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to pray with my daughter that Jesus takes away the sin of our city—my sin and your sin. And I’m going to encourage my daughter to keep praying for Phoenix as we seek together to restore and renew all things for God’s glory.