The role of the family in ministering to those around us

Lindsay has a wonderful post up, entitled Where have all the families gone? Here is an excerpt:

One session I attended was titled, “Raising Kids on the Mission Field
and the aim of the class was to supply us with tools for how to make a
smooth transition. I was eager to hear from an experienced mother on
some practically ways I can adapt my children to the field in the
future. I was sourly disappointed to discover that her main emphasis
was to relate how she sent her children to boarding school and they
preferred being with their friends than working together in ministry in
the areas God had called for them. She said she would have to drag the
kids, kicking and screaming, to do family ministry together because
they would rather be with their friends.

At the end of the session, I asked, “would you have considered
homeschooling? And do you think that would have made any difference in
their attitudes towards serving together?” Her response added to my
disappointment. She basically said she never considered that idea, and
it would have be difficult to minister if she had been homeschooling.
Did I hear you right? Are you saying that God gives us conflicting
obligations? God calls mothers to be mothers! How can this be separate
from the family mission?

…America has lost its value of the family as one of the primary
institutions for a successful society. Without this fundamental
establishment, every other aspect of society is falling apart. We are
sending children away as much as possible, their own school, their own
Sunday school event, youth group, etc. Where have all the families gone?

Since becoming a mother myself, I have been dismayed to realize that in the Christian church today (yes, I am about to make a generalization- I refer you to Amy’s well stated post on said topic) it is deemed more important for a woman to participate in ministry opportunities and programs outside of the house (leaving her children in the care of others) than it is to be focused on serving the needs of one’s family.

I would strongly agree with Lindsay that God has not given us conflicting obligations. In fact, I believe that by being a keeper of the home, and remaining home-centered as I serve my husband and my children, I am more enabled to reach out and share the love of Christ with others than if I were to leave my children with a sitter and take part in outreach programs. Let me explain.

First of all, I am able to be faithful to serve those closest to me who do not yet know Christ- the very children that God has given me! How can I justify leaving behind these littles ones, in whose life I have the greatest level of influence and to whom I have the greatest level of responsibility, in order to witness to others? And yet, I am still called to minister to the lost, the poor, the sick and the needy. How shall I do it? Through my home and family!

The home is to be central in our ministry- a place for hospitality, for extending warmth and friendship to the lost, for caring for the sick and needy, for giving generously to those around us, for displaying the love of Christ through our marriage and family, and one day, for sending out our "arrows" (our children) to minister to others on behalf of our family!

The household is the God-ordained seat of education. It is the first place where we are to develop and communicate and distinctively Christian aesthetic for culture. The home is not to be relegated to a mere place for consumption, but transformed into a powerful tool for industry and production. In the household (not the state welfare agency) we find God’s true pattern for multi-generational, covenental care. The home, not even the temple or church meeting house, has always been the God-ordained primary locus for daily worship. Our homes not only provide us with a platform to honor God’s non-optional commands for one-anothering and hospitality, but they were designed to be the most powerful forums for evangelism and discipleship in the Christian’s arsenal.
(Doug Phillips, as quote in Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God)

As a family, it is our responsibility to model to our children the ways that we share the love of Christ with others. If we feel that we can only do so by leaving our children at home, how will they ever come to learn to serve others themselves? How will they grow to be ministry-minded Christians with a deep love and compassion for the lost if they are not discipled in this and encouraged to minister alongside of us? Let us reject the notion that fulfilling our roles as mother and servant of Christ are incompatible, and instead embrace this highest of callings that we have been given! 

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  1. I am so saddened by this missionaries attitude towards family involvement in missions. My family and I are missionaries and our children absolutely love going to tell people about Jesus. Thank you for helping others see that boarding school in not the only option! We homeschool and really enjoy it!

  2. What you said is so true! Thanks so much for writing a post on this.

    Another sad aspect to all of this is that many missionary wives/pastor’s wives are pressured by the churches to be more active in the ministry than they possibly should be. I’ve heard people criticize missionary wives who spend most of their time with their kids, rather than doing Bible studies, going on visitation, etc. We, as the missionaries’ supporters, need to be an encouragement to them when the wives decide to spend the majority of their time at home with their kids, and not pressure them to meet a particular mold or requirement that would keep them out of the home.

  3. Great post. I too, read Lindsay’s post. I remember being told as a single on the mission field that those days would be over once I had a few kids. It seemed strange to me to think I had stop mission work becasue I had kids, just take them with you, teach them at home etc. To me it was much harder to consider raising them in suburbia then overseas. It is a sad state when the church wants to farm out our kids to “do” ministry.
    On the other hand, as a homebody who is very content being at home alone, I need to be very purposeful not to forget to open my home and reach out from within my family.
    I just now made the connection between your blog and Lindsays….my brain is a little slow….need sleep:o)

  4. Thanks so much for this post. As a minister’s wife and mother to a little one, it can be a hard balance in ministry. Churches often expect minister’s wives to be just as involved in the ministries of the church as her spouse. When my husband first started in ministry, we had no children and I plugged in everywhere they asked. I had a hard time saying no. Once my son came along, it was expected that I continue with those ministries. It was very difficult and I could see the strain it was putting on our family. As we soon begin ministry at a different church, I am putting my family as my first priority. I know that it is the right choice and I pray that this church will understand our responsibility to our son and any other children that follow. Our home should be our first place of worship and ministry.

  5. Wow, this is really good. I live and minister in an inner city neighborhood and I’ve really struggled with how to continue the things I know God has called me to in the community when we have our first baby this summer. We waited to have kids for a while for a number of reasons, one of which was that I had the idea that my work and ministry would be done when we had kids. I’ve slowly been seeing that while it will be transformed, it will not be over, and that as a parent I will be able to work more effectively with some of the kids in my neighborhood as well as their families. There are other things at church and with the non-profit I work with currently that I will no longer be able to do, but there are lots of other good things that we can do as a family.

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