My children are missionary’s kids, not missionary kids. But this does not mean I exclude them from missions. Rather, I limit their involvement to healthy and biblically appropriate activities that cultivate joy-filled participation instead of reluctant obligation.
Be a Great Commandment Family
The Great Commission is temporary, but the Great Commandment is eternal (Matthew 22:37–40). I repeat this phrase to myself daily. As a parent, my primary goal is not to raise Great Commission Christians. My goal is to raise children captivated by the glory of God in Christ (Hebrew 1:3). My aim is to raise children who are Christians delighting in God. This is an important distinction given our sinful propensity to do for Christ, rather than to abide in Christ. If we confuse these priorities, we will not only hinder our children’s involvement in missions but their overall spiritual vitality.
Therefore, before we can be a Great Commission family—one that involves each member in the missionary task—we must be a Great Commandment family. Being a Great Commandment family ensures our children’s missions engagement flows from deep communion with Christ (John 15:4). The goal of missions is the worship of God by every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.
As a parent, my primary goal is not to raise Great Commission Christians— it’s to raise children captivated by the glory of God in Christ.
This means that eternal life is knowing God (John 17:3), missionaries are stewards of this message, and the gospel is the power of God for salvation, not the missionary (Romans 1:16). Being a Great Commandment family produces Great Commission Christians who faithfully encourage others to join them in joy-filled worship (1 Corinthians 9:16).
To accomplish this, you must develop daily fellowship with Christ before engaging in the day’s ministry agenda. Immerse your family in the Word. Demonstrate the centrality of Scripture in missions. Organize your time to grow in Christ and his Word (John 17:17–23). Know the Word, love the Word, and obey the Word! Together, share the Word. Drinking deeply from the fountain of God’s revealed glory in Scripture overflows into fruitful missions engagement (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Pray for Missions
Many factors contribute to the success of missions, but none are more important than prayer. For this reason, devote significant time each week to praying as a family for gospel advancement. Pray God will send missionaries to the unreached and unengaged people groups (Matthew 9:37–38).
By involving our children in our prayers for the nations, they will learn that the success of missions is in the hands of the One who governs all things
To pray specifically for unreached people groups use resources like Who are Frontier People Groups?, Let All the Peoples Praise You, or the IMB’s Loving the Lost Prayer Guide. Pray for salvations (2 Thessalonians 3:1; Romans 10:1). Pray for churches to be planted and multiply. Pray missionaries will proclaim the gospel boldly and clearly (Colossians 4:2–4). Pray for their protection, perseverance, and encouragement (2 Thessalonians 3:2; 2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
By involving our children in our prayers for the nations, they will learn that the success of missions is in the hands of the One who governs all things (James 4:13–15). Moreover, mission-specific prayers expose our children to the scope of the unfinished missionary task. Be sure to include prayers specific to your context and celebrate together when God answers!
Include Them in Your Ministry
Last year, my daughter started gymnastics. At the first practice, her coach asked, “Liliana, why do you want to be a gymnast?” She said, “Because my mommy was a gymnast.” Children imitate their parents. Every parent can give examples—some good, many embarrassing—of their children mimicking their mannerisms, rhetoric, and routine, and a missionary’s children are no exception.
As a result, allow your children to accompany you in the field. I understand it can be challenging, but while many families struggle to make the Great Commission tangible, God provides missionary parents an unparalleled opportunity. For children, nothing will capture their hearts for the nations like watching mom and dad faithfully obey the Great Commission.
Hearing our evangelism, listening to our gospel conversations, experiencing firsthand the reality of lostness, and witnessing gospel transformation will reinforce the biblical truths we teach in the home and provide an example to emulate. If you want to foster a lifelong commitment to God’s global renown in your children, you must include them in missions.
Broaden their Understanding of Missions Involvement
Every Christian has a personal responsibility in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. As John Piper says, there are three choices: “Be a joyful sacrificial goer, be a joyful sacrificial sender, or be disobedient.” Unfortunately, due to our context as missionary families, our children may see only two choices: be a goer like mom and dad or be disobedient.
We combat this misunderstanding by reminding our children that God uses a broad range of talents and vocations to accomplish his global redemptive purposes. Therefore, avoid limiting Great Commission obedience to vocational missionary service. Instead, learn your child’s interests and connect them with missions activities where their passions and talents can flourish.
Ultimately, our greatest joy as parents is not that our children become missionaries but that they walk in truth, supporting missions in a manner worthy of God (3 John 4–8).