I love the local church. This is the place where God intended believers to be built up, to use their gifts in love, to be a launching ground for ministry, for sharing the gospel with those who don’t know it. Here we worship together, and we share kingdom life together.
I love our local church. This is the place where God placed our family. Unmistakably. One of the delightful things about our church is that is it a place where we can serve within a community.
My home is the adjunct location for my ministry. For many years my primary ministry was changing diapers, teaching toddlers to obey and share, and learning to love others more than myself. As my children have gotten older, I’ve had more room for other kinds of ministry.
Since our children are home, they’re a part. I like that. I want them to see what it looks like when I’m sharing the gospel with another mama over a cup of coffee. They pray for the dear friends God has brought into their lives as well as mine. They also do a fantastic job playing with the toddlers and babies who stumble over their schoolwork and eat their Legos. I am grateful for their help. I want them to understand that when the neighbor kids beg to come over to play with them, dragging their shy mama along with them, they share in the blessing of planting the seeds of the gospel because of their kindness and love.
On the other hand, in this new season, I am noticing that I must be wise in my expectations of my children’s part in my ministry. My passion and ministry is not wholly theirs. I want to be very careful as I teach them how to minister, and show them the joys of sharing the gospel and serving others, that I’m not pushing them ahead of the Holy Spirit. I want to be sensitive to their requests NOT to minister at times, and I especially want to remember that they are not the ones initiating this service.
So how do I encourage my children to share God’s love with others?
- I’m going to remember that we cannot share what we have not received. This is why I want to spend a lot of time helping my children understand the blessing of salvation that they have received. I want to teach them how to walk with God. I want them to see my joy in sharing Christ with others. A full heart cannot help but overflow into the lives around it.
- I want to help them connect service and the blessing they have received when big kids have spent time with them. They have been blessed, and I want them to know how it feels to receive God’s love through someone else.
- After the babies and toddlers have gone home, I share this verse with them, and explain that when they share their toys with a young child, it’s like they are sharing their toys with Jesus. (Who is “the least of these” to a child? Most frequently it is a younger child.)
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:
- I tell them that they have freedom in Christ to choose their ministry, as God provides. When one of my children expressed a strong desire not to sing in the children’s choir, I ultimately allowed her to choose a different ministry. We brainstormed about how a child can serve the local church, can further the gospel. I explained that she was free to choose how she served, but she needed to be doing something.
- As they have gotten older, I have planned ministry apart from them. I had a mama and her children over for lunch. We all ate together, and then I sent my children to do school work in their bedrooms while the toddlers played with Playdoh on my kitchen table.
- I do ask them to minister with me on a regular basis. We are a family, and it’s not unreasonable to make a leadership decision about how the family serves as a whole. What gives me greater joy, is when I see my children on their own initiative reaching out. This action is of far greater significance to me.
Tomorrow I’ll explain how this principle relates to our family’s decision NOT to send our children to public school or Christian school “to be missionaries.”