Nathan Schneider

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Family Ministry and God’s Mission

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?

  1. Teach the Missio Dei. Christopher Wright, in his book The Mission of God, argues that a central theme of Scripture is God’s mission.[1] 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.
  1. 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.

[1] 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.


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Cleveland Update: Trip Recap

This has been a great week! We saw all of our students step up and step out of their comfort zones. There were people who prayed to receive Christ and, most importantly, a number of people who heard the gospel clearly. The gospel was shared more than 50 times, whether through surveys or conversations on the street.

The team bonded, made an impact, and was trained in gospel sharing that will multiply in impact as we return to Mobile.

I’m proud of our entire group!


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Cleveland Update: Day 6

We wrapped up our mission work today, but the ministry continues in East Cleveland. Keep Pastor Ben Shelton and his family in mind as you consider the people of Cleveland.

Our team is leaving Cleveland with joy as we saw God work in and through out students. We began today with worship and setting our hearts on what is most important: Jesus and His mission. Students responded by praying for others, fixing their eyes on Jesus, and making amends with others in the group that they had hurt during the week.

With clear minds and thankful hearts, we moved out into the community. Our students took bold steps to proclaim Jesus, whether that be interviewing a person on their own or sharing the gospel of God. I’m proud of each of them!

The gospel has been proclaimed faithfully on a number of occasions and it will be great to see the impact of these witnessing conversation later. It was also exciting to see the fruit of prayer during our time together. One group prayed for a woman and her son who hadn’t spoken in a while and as the team encountered later, she said that her one son had called after they left. There are plenty of other stories like that! 

We’ll see you tomorrow!


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Cleveland Update: Day 5

today was our second day of major mission work in East Cleveland. God work through our students in a powerful way as they canvassed the various neighborhoods. As the teams came back to the church for dinner, students Saturday round sharing of the way that God had worked for their teams.

The gospel was shared a number of occasions through our students asking basic questions about cultural issues. The people were receptive to giving up their time to answer some questions and God was faithful to open up doors for sharing the good news of Jesus to those people. There were those who responded in faith and many more who wanted to find out more about the church being planted.

We have one more day of all-day mission work and we’re excited about what God is going to do! Keep praying for our team and the longstanding faithfulness of God through Redemption Church.

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Cleveland Update: Day 4

Your prayers have been obviously felt. It was evident in the fuel for our mission today. We had a great time prayer walking and canvassing the same neighborhoods, engaging the community and sharing the love of Jesus in a variety of ways. Our team shared boldly in the community and everyone took a step out of their comfort zone to interact with some different contexts than what we’re use to. Even in conducting interviews, we saw people turning in faith to Jesus Christ.

Keep praying for this team and this community!


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Cleveland Update: Day 3

This has been a unique year for our team in the sense of bonding as a unit. After two days of traveling, multiple meals together, and a fun afternoon at Cedar Point, our team has built significant relationships. One of the exciting things for me has been to see ALL of the students become involved in these relational connections. This unity will be a major fuel for our mission moving forward. Continue to pray for these relationships and team unity.

 Tomorrow we begin our intentionally planned mission work around East Cleveland. We will connect with another church, FBC Concord, and do two things: 1. Prayer walking in the morning, and; 2. Doing interviews in the afternoon. 

I love being your Student Pastor!


“the LORD be magnified!” Ps. 40:16

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Cleveland Update: Day 2

We’re in Cleveland, OH!

We arrived in Cleveland around 5:00PM, after driving from Bowling Green, KY. We were able to meet with Pastor Ben (Gateway Heights Church and Redemption Hill – our partnership church), Jay (Coordinator for Cleveland Mission Teams), and Pastor Bruce (South Euclid Baptist Church – our hosting church). Each gave a vision for what they’re praying for and we’re excited to be around them over the next few days. 

Be in prayer alongside of us.