Two words have informed our efforts to educate our kids in the mission of the church: expose and inspire.
Expose and Inspire
Although the following statement is a generalization, a thread of truth is woven through it: Humans, by their very nature, are comfortable with and drawn to the similar and familiar. Conversely, they tend to avoid and fear the unfamiliar and different. So as we consciously implement ways to expose our kids to the unfamiliar—different people and places of the world—we begin to breed familiarity. This familiarity then becomes a tool to break down barriers of fear. The more kids are exposed to different people and places of the world, the less fearful they will be of the differences.
The goal of this exposure is to lay a foundation for them to respond to God’s call to go (Matthew 28:19). By educating our kids with a God-centered and God-sized view of the world, we are planting seeds of missional awareness in their lives. Prayerfully, these seeds will yield fruit when it comes to critical decision-making times in their lives—high school, college, early adulthood—and inspire them to leverage their education, their jobs, and their entire lives for the spread of the gospel.
In light of our desire to expose and inspire our kids for the sake of the Great Commission, there’s a question that naturally arises: What should we teach them?
What to Teach
The following is a list of specific suggestions for teaching your kids with the aim of embracing God’s global purposes:
- Map It: An easy place to start is geography. Kids can’t share, show, and teach the Word to the nations if they don’t know who and where the nations are! So have some fun learning some geography together and growing in global literacy! We call it Geography with a Purpose.
- God is Creator of the Nations: Help kids learn about God’s incredible creation—the unique and varied people, animals, and places He has created. Marvel in and value His creative genius! (Acts 17:17)
- God is Provider for the Nations: God cares about and desires to provide for His creation. Our kids need to know that God has given us Himself so that we can share Him with the nations. Help your kids understand that they are blessed so that they may bless others generously (Psalm 67:1-2). Let them know they are a part of God’s plan to care for the people of the world. Pray for compassion to rule in their hearts and then support them as they flex their servant muscles.
- God is Ruler over the Nations: It may be a surprise for kids to learn that there are many belief systems in the world, and that, in fact, most people in the world do not believe and worship the same way their family does. Expose your kids to other religions and unreached people groups in the world and help them understand the hope that we have in Christ (Hebrews 6:19). Pray with them, that the nations would put their hope in Christ too (Matthew 12:21).
- God is Savior to the Nations: Read missionary stories to your kids and let the accounts of these men and women do their faith-stretching work. Soak up the lessons of devotion, perseverance, courage, love, and sacrifice. Pray for your kids’ hearts to be inspired by these heroes of the faith so that they might take their own place in the mission of the church.
As you put effort into implementing these (and other) ways of teaching your kids, you will regularly need to be reminded why all this matters.
Why it Matters
Following her freshman year in college, my daughter spent her summer in a large, multi-ethnic city that would be considered post-Christian in terms of its general belief system. In other words, the Bible and the message of the gospel were no longer seen as relevant by most people in that city. Christianity was believed to be an antiquated and narrow belief system. And this city is reflective of an increasing number of cities in our nation. (Not to mention, a distorted gospel is often preached from many pulpits in our culture, while moral relativism, atheism, and counterfeit gospels are increasingly prevalent.)
Although my daughter grew up with a mom who wrote and taught missions curriculum, and also grew up under the teaching of the quintessential evangelist, David Platt, she still struggled to find ways to engage people effectively in spiritual conversation. Through this experience, I’ve become keenly aware of the need to start early in the task of discipling kids in the joys of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and equipping them to engage their culture in a loving and relevant way.
Prayerfully, the Passport to the Nations curriculum (www.passporttothenations.com) can be a useful tool in training the next generation to know about the people of the world, to love the people of the world, and to understand their responsibility to reach the people of the world with the hope of the gospel.