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Sarah spent her days chasing after two energetic boys under age five. Making sure they had clean clothes, healthy food, and afternoon naps sapped all her strength. Motherhood had quenched the flame in her heart to take God’s love to the world. Surely God did not want her to go while her boys were so little. How could she and her husband even consider it when they were busy with the tasks of everyday family life? Fast forward one year… Sarah and her family are living and serving among an ethnic people group that has no known followers of Jesus. 

What caused this dramatic shift in her heart?—Church leaders who gave her a bigger vision for the potential of her family to join in God’s mission, not despite the every day, but in the midst of it. 

Although families have always been strategic in God’s global plan of redemption, we don’t often consider how families—even the ones with young children—can be a central part of our church’s strategy to reach the nations. We send long-term workers, create outreach initiatives, and consider strategic approaches like church planting and business as missions. We invite adults and older teens to participate in short-term trips. How often do we think about partnering with the families in our churches, equipping parents and their children to be a blessing to ethnic groups who know nothing of the goodness of God?

God is giving the families in our churches an incredible opportunity to step into the part of his global story that is unfolding today. He created them to be a blessing to the nations of the world, right in the middle of their everyday lives. If God makes families a central focus of his mission strategy, maybe we should, too. Here are three ways to begin.

1. Talk about God’s mission regularly, and in places where parents will hear it. 

Often, when we talk about God’s mission, we unintentionally make it too top-shelf (for a special subset of believers willing to go) or too bottom-shelf (everything is mission). Parents may not engage in God’s mission with their family if it seems out of reach or irrelevant to their season of life.

To mobilize families, we need to regularly talk about God’s mission to be known and worshiped by people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, and emphasize that all believers, including children, have a part to play. We need to show how God’s desire to reach the nations is woven throughout the Old and New Testament, and how God blesses His people for the purpose of being a blessing to the nations. By providing biblical support and examples of everyday families joining in God’s mission, we can expand parents’ view of the potential of their own family to participate.

Parents cannot impart to their children what they do not first understand and believe. Parents embracing God’s heart for the nations as a biblical component of their own faith, and then knowing how to communicate this vision to their children, is foundational to mobilizing families.

2. Help families learn about the spiritual reality of the world.

Most families understand that God so loved the world (John 3:16), but very few have much exposure to the world God loves. In interactions with parents, we need to consistently emphasize that Jesus calls all believers, including their families, to make disciples of all nations —from every ethnic group in the world! We can invite families into a centuries-long movement of believers who bless the nations of their day with the good news of Jesus. Let your families know that it’s their time and it’s their turn.

It’s difficult for us to love what we don’t know. We can help families develop hearts of compassion for the peoples of the world through both existing and special events. Incorporate intercession for the nations into your church’s regular prayer times. Highlight specific ethnic groups who don’t know Jesus. Learn their names, where they live, and what they believe.

Bring the peoples of the world to life through special events that engage families with the culture of specific unreached ethnic groups (games, crafts, music, foods, language). Learn what they believe and include a prayer time. By involving families in these ways, you provide models that help parents continue learning about the unreached in their own homes.

3. Show value for all the roles families can have in God’s mission.

Many parents do not deem themselves qualified to join in God’s mission, viewing their season of life as a barrier rather than an asset. Often, this is due to a limited understanding of the range of roles believers can play in seeing the unreached come to know Jesus. We can encourage parents to be involved by introducing them to and showing value for a variety of roles.

Reaching the nations will require those who go—and prayerfully, many families will say “yes.” These families will walk through challenges and hardships as they work cross-culturally. We need to develop a church culture that celebrates and supports them well. For every family that goes, dozens more are needed to send and care for them. “How will they go unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15) Celebrate the senders, families who strategically use their finances to support workers and efforts among the unreached.

Celebrate families who are reaching the nations through faithful intercession. Prayer is the easiest and most transformative role for parents with young children.

Celebrate welcomers, families who intentionally seek and love the nations around them—refugees, international students, and business workers. Celebrate mobilizers, families who help others catch the same vision for their families.

Ask yourself…

  • How would your church culture be different if every family believed they had a strategic part in God’s story of blessing the nations?
  • How would your church be different 10–15 years from now, when children who grew up learning about the nations at home and actively participating in God’s mission with their families, became the generation of young adults in your church?

God has a grand vision for everyday families that includes the nations of the world. How are you leveraging families as part of your mission strategy? Via has resources to help you begin, or expand what you are already doing.

Parenting with a Global Vision casts a vision for the potential of everyday families to participate in God’s story and provides parents with family discipleship ideas focused on loving Jesus and joining with him in blessing the nations (6-week small group study).

Access dozens of free resources, activities, and articles about family and missions at

Karen Hardin
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