Curiously, a previous post, “Missions Starts at Home” has gotten an awful lot of hits. The problem is, perhaps, that my title was confusing. Missions to me is a wholistic educative process of transformation. The Matthew version of the Great Commission says that we are to Make Disciples… or create learners. Part of this process is, teaching others to obey everything Christ has commanded. I decided to utilize the “Shema” from Deuteronomy 6 is part of a wholistic educative process of transformation. However, there are other ways in which Missions Starts At Home.
Here are some more:
How can children be prepared for Christian Missions?
1. Food. Don’t just feed children on spaghetti and hamburgers. The world is full of good food. When a child is 2-4 years old (and younger), they are developing a palate. Don’t just give them what they like, help develop what they like. Go to foreign cuisine restaurants. Try a wide variety of cooking at home. Don’t become dependent on restaurants (especially fast food), or on the microwave.
This is an area we, thankfully, did well. Our children do great in this. They eat balanced meals. They appreciate nearly all cuisines.
2. Money. Practice financial self-control. Don’t seek to compensate lack of quality time with expensive gifts. Don’t live in debt. Practice frugal living and joyous giving to church, missions, and charities. Bad attitudes about money are definitely inherited.
3. Education. If you as a family are really planning to be missionaries, it is good to homeschool at least a year to make sure you can do it as a family (both as parents and children). We found that we could homeschool, but one of our children was found to be very much of a social learner. Happily, when we got to the Philippines, we found a school for our children to attend… but in many parts of the world this is not possible.
Remember, EVERY CHILD IS HOMESCHOOLED in the sense that the education of a child is ALWAYS the responsibility of the parents. Parents may outsource some aspects of the education to a public school, a private school, a private tutor, a church program, and more. But parents must always recognize that they can pass on authority, but not responsiblity. Always add to education with various family activities and trips.
4. Broaden your child’s perspective. It is tough for those in the US. Media in the US is very nationalistic. Few have anything that remotely constitutes an international perspective. But parents should try their best to broaden their children’s world. American culture has aspects of beauty and horror. So do every other culture. Having a distorted view of any culture (either excessively positive or negative) is destructive. Children need to learn to appreciate different cultures while still recognizing that each has its problems. America loves dualism. There is a tendency of seeing the world in Dickensian terms. People or cultures are either the good guys or the bad guys. Helping children to see all peoples with God’s eyes is a great blessing. Cultivate relationships with people of different cultures. Americans tend to confuse culture and color. They tend to focus on “Red and Yellow, Black and White,” but a lot of these designations aren’t that useful elsewhere. Culture is more useful to focus on.
5. Spiritual. Pray for and with your children. Get them comfortable with home Bible study. I would, surprisingly, suggest not to overdo it. I have seen children react negatively to overdoing “spiritualistic” behavior in the home. Seek a balance. Also seek integration. That is, integrate a spiritual perspective into one’s life rather than turning it completely off or completely on. Attend church, but just warming pews and singing songs has little to no impact. Be involved in ministry locally as individuals and as a family.
6. Missions. Practice missions. Help those who can’t help themselves. Work with religious and secular groups that are seeking to do good. Pray for missionaries in an informed way. Email them and build relationships. Learn about other cultures. Buy an atlas and learn it. Find out how one can be involved in missions at home. Be involved in short-term missions… as a family if possible.
7. Last Thoughts. Help your children develop a value system and ethical system in line with Christ, not the dominant culture. Find joy in simplicity. Spend considerable quality time with your children. Simplify your life so you can afford to spend more quality time. Teach your children skills in line with their interests (but this does not mean a constant handing them off to different clubs, tutors, teams, and external activities). Make your children recognize that they are a loved, and valuable, part of the family team.
That seems like enough for now.