Once upon a time I lived in the jungles of Papua New Guinea where lanterns lit our house and a wood stove warmed up rain water from the tin roof for bucket showers. Fast forward twelve years, add one husband and six kids and you get life as I know it here in my American home which lights up at the flip of a switch and heats its own water! Until last week, that is. Last week severe storms left our town without electricity and I was painfully reminded how easily an attitude of entitlement can slip in! We get comfortable, we get complacent, and when someone or something dares to interfere with our plan, we complain. I complained all the way to the hotel where we crowded our small tribe of children into a room and roughed it for the night. (By roughing it I mean sleeping in a King size bed, waking up to breakfast that I didn’t have to make, and taking the kids swimming before leaving a messy room behind for someone else to clean up…wait, what was I complaining about again?!)
I want my children to understand that life is about so much more than comfortable living, luxury items, and the coolest new gadgets and gizmos. They may not spend their childhood on the mission field, but I want them growing up with a missional mindset regardless. I want them engaged in God’s global movement and the spread of His gospel around the world. As our kids grow, we want to continually bring mission work from the furthest corners of the Earth home to our front door. There are so many ways to do so, but for this post I want to focus on the Missional M&M’s: “Missionary of the Month” and “Missionary Mondays.”
1. Pick a missionary of the month. If you have a friend on the field or a family your church supports, start with them. If you need one to get started, check out the families featured here. Think about connecting with mission families involved in a ministry your family will relate to or who has children similar ages as yours. If you have dramatic kids or athletic kids, find a missionary family using street theater or sports programs to spread the gospel. These little details will make “The Missionary” seem a little less out of this world and more relatable.
2. Kids LOVE food, so make the first Monday of the month “Missionary Monday” and cook up some traditional foods from the country your “Missionary of the Month” ministers in to serve for supper. Use conversation time around the table to introduce the details of that month’s missionary and spend time praying for them.
3. Have your kids find a new fact about that country or people group (history, traditions, ect) to share at the dinner table on each of the following “Missionary Mondays” for that month. This involves them in the learning process and may ignite a passion for a particular people group or method of ministry! Again, make time to pray for them together before everyone scatters their separate ways.
4. If you homeschool, incorporate that country or people group into history reports, research reports, or choose a book for reading class that relates to that culture. Check out these fabulous resources for more ideas whether you homeschool or not! (8 Resources for Teaching Missions)
5. Kids also learn by doing. If possible, contact the missionaries in advance and learn what kinds of games or activities kids in that area enjoy. Spend time after supper on one of your “Missionary Mondays” to play that game as a family.
6. In your communication also ask what the missionary family misses from their home country and plan a family shopping trip to put together a special package. Or if they have specific needs like a new pair of shoes for their son, have your kids do extra chores around the house to earn money and let them pick out the shoes and mail them. Missions with a side of service and generosity? Yes please! (Sidenote: Sometimes shipping costs to certain countries can double or triple the cost of what you are sending, so passing along the funds for that specific purpose is another option. Maybe the missionary could send home a picture of what they picked out with the money your kids gave!)
7. Consider planning a family service project to benefit the ministry that month’s family is involved in too. If their village is trying to build a bridge, let your kids come up with a creative fundraiser to help. The more specific the need, the more connected your kids will be to the service project. Sometimes the best ways to engage their HEARTS is to engage their HANDS!
The best version of the Missional M&M’s (“Missionary of the Month” and/or “Missionary Mondays”) is the one that works with your family schedule. I like focusing on one specific missionary and ministry at a time and also centering it around supper time since we’re all together around the table anyways. You may prefer to narrow your focus to two or three missionaries or ministries and cycle them through again three or four times a year. I am looking forward to finding new ministries that magnify the many ways God is being glorified in the spreading of His gospel around our world. I hope engaging my kids in the experience will teach them how BIG our God is and the importance of using the special gifts He gives each one of us to share His LOVE wherever we are!
How do you make missions a reality for your kids?
Have a favorite ministry you would like to highlight? Share with us by commenting below!!