Genesis 12 marks a significant shift in the biblical narrative, from the beginning of our world (and its brokenness) to the calling of a man God promised to make a “blessing to the nations.” The man called of God was Abraham and the promise was through his descendants. The Lord, through an angelic encounter with Abraham makes the specifics of the plan clear:
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Genesis 18:17-19
As the church moves to a model of ministry more aligned to equip families, it must not lose sight of the ultimate goal. Although protecting our children and teaching them solid, moral values are noble tasks, they cannot be the ultimate motivation for our resurgence of intentional family ministry. The goal of partnering with parents has to be aligned with God’s design for families and discipleship: the advancement of the gospel to the nations.
It’s not that our intentions are misguided; they are too small in light of the God who thinks about and cares deeply for all people in every nation. Churches and leaders must think about encouraging parents toward a role grander than could be imagined by parents outside of God’s mission, which is attested to throughout the biblical narrative.
How can churches intentionally move parents to think more strategically about the way they raise their children to be missionaries?
- Teach the Missio Dei. Christopher Wright, in his book The Mission of God, argues that a central theme of Scripture is God’s mission. From the original blessing to mankind to “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28) to the command to “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19) to the promised, multicultural experience of worshippers of every nation and people group in heaven (Revelation 7:9-10), God is a God who thinks and operates globally. Our parents need to be inspired by this vision.
- Give Families Opportunities to Serve and Go Together. Operating as silos within the church will not result in shared experiences in the home. Children who participate with their parents will see that mission matters for their parents. Recently, a mom and her 13-year-old daughter went on mission together to South Africa. Upon returning, they were already making plans to return the next year. As they began check in at the airport the mom was restricted from traveling because her passport would expire too soon after returning from traveling. Having already made the trip together once, the mom (along with her husband) signed papers to release their daughter for travel. Now, at 14, she has caught a glimpse of God’s glory among the nations, first seen in her mom traveling and now, seen in her parents’ willingness to risk safety and comfort for the advancement of the gospel.
Family ministry models do not go far enough. Churches and ministries must think globally in their attempt to encourage parents towards greater faithfulness in raising their children.
 Wright says, “Mission is what the Bible is all about; we could as meaningfully talk of the missional basis of the Bible as of the biblical basis of mission.” Wright, Christopher J. H., The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 29.