Two of the greatest things parents can do for their children are to instill in their hearts eternal priorities—specifically the priority to reach the world with the gospel—and help them understand the world-wide focus of our mission as Christians. We are to witness to our neighbors and reach the world.
How can you help your children keep a Great Commission focus? How can you help them develop a love for missionaries and a desire to be involved in missions? I suggest five activities.
1. Help Them Meet Missionaries
Acquaint them with men and women who are engaged in taking the gospel around the world. When missionaries come to your church, take your children to meet them, to ask them to sign their Bibles, to look at their pictures and listen to their stories.
2. Encourage Them to Ask Questions
Questions are part of the learning process, so help your children formulate questions to ask missionaries. In addition to inciting curiosity in their minds, questions will give them an opportunity to interact with missionaries. Young children may wonder how old kids in another country are when they go to school. Teenagers may wonder how difficult it is to learn a foreign language or what people in another country think of Americans. They may wonder about the specific challenges of living in another country. Encourage them to ask questions.
3. Pray for Missionaries
As you meet missionaries, get their prayer cards and set a system in place where, as a family, you bring missionaries to the Lord in prayer. Perhaps it would be rotating through one missionary card as you pray for each meal, or maybe you would incorporate prayer for missionaries into your family devotions. Praying for missionaries as a family holds the needs of both missionaries and mission fields before your children’s eyes.
4. Provide Missionary Biographies
Missionaries whom God has used have been men and women who had a passion for Him and deep compassion for a lost world. Reading their stories helps to stir the same in our own hearts—and our children’s hearts. Encourage your kids to read missionary biographies and to see men and women who served on mission fields of the past as some of the greatest heroes of the faith.
5. Make Your Church’s Missions Conference a Priority in Your Schedule
What we do says a lot about what we value. I believe that families should attend every special service of the local church when at all possible to do so. But consider, in particular, the importance of missions conference for your children. During these few days, the overwhelming message given is an expression of God’s heart—to reach the world with the gospel—and an invitation to make His priorities our priorities—to partner with the Lord and with missionaries in taking the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. This is a message we need to impart to our children. This is a message worth clearing your calendar for, canceling appointments for, and bringing to the forefront of your life. Doing so says much to your children about the values of the Christian life.
One of the best ways to encourage an interest in children is through involvement. These five suggestions—meeting missionaries, asking questions, praying for missionaries, reading missionary biographies, and attending missions conference—all involve your family in the greatest work in the world. They engage your children in developing the priorities of God.