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© First Baptist Church of Milford.

Australia and the Islands of Oceania

Raising Mission-Minded Kids

We discovered that “mission-mindedness” is having a Great Commission mindset fanned by family participation in outreach opportunities.
 |  Ed & Debbie Barclay  |  Australia/Oceania

Our perspective on raising mission-minded children did not come from textbooks or seminars. It began in the pulpit of our own church where a missionshearted pastor hammered weekly messages of the importance of missions. These messages were both direct and others more subtle. Missions was a normal theme and missionaries were special people. It seemed as though each week we heard from or about another missionary. At an early age, our children were fascinated with missions due in large part to our pastor’s heart for it and his emphasis on it. We remember them eagerly tugging at us after yet another missionary presentation saying, “Can we go? Can we go?” Missionaries were unashamedly given front-row seats in our children’s lives and hearts. We soon learned that t h e y quickly pick up on what we value. This was especially true in our church where missionaries were coming and going regularly and our children saw it as a part of everyday church life.

We discovered that “mission-mindedness” is having a Great Commission mindset fanned by family participation in outreach opportunities. A good church with plenty of opportunities for ministry is essential, and that has always been the case here at First Baptist Church. We took advantage of all the areas of service where we could best minister together. We began working in the bus ministry when our children were very young. They went with us on Saturday visitation and rode each Sunday. We attended Great Commission Night together, worked at Vacation Bible School, and various Scripture projects at Bearing Precious Seed. It was a great training ground as they learned the value of souls and teamwork. We established a family routine of serving the Lord together. Our church’s Master Club was of utmost importance in the early years of our children’s lives. It reinforced what we believe and why we believe it. It gave them avenues to get involved in ministry like teaching a Bible lesson, sharing a testimony, presenting the Gospel, and preaching a message.

The annual Missions Conference was an event we looked forward to with great anticipation. We always made sure to attend all the meetings. We used these times to have missionaries stay in our home. We got to know them as people and our children bonded with them. We have fond memories of many shared meals and special times. Our children were impacted by the stories they heard and the friends they made. One missionary in particular made her famous guacamole each time they stayed in our home. A notable guest was a national pastor from Mozambique. Our children were affected in big ways and small by each relationship we fostered with missionaries. After the Missions Conference was over, we tried to keep missions in front of our children at home. We were positive about missions, prayed for missionaries, and kept their prayer cards in plain sight. We encouraged our children to go on various short-term mission trips where they developed real and lasting relationships with the missionaries. They returned imitating their zeal and even their teaching styles. The value of those trips was immeasurable as we consider the opportunities our children had to minister alongside the missionaries and to see their passion demonstrated up close and personal.

We tried to encourage our children when they demonstrated an interest in missions and not douse their enthusiasm for missions in any way. Our daughter recently reminded us that we always believed in her, that we took seriously her missions interest and God’s calling on her life. As parents, we did not dismiss our children’s desire to serve God with their lives in any capacity. We sincerely tried to fan the flames, not extinguish them.

Our pastor once said, “God has not called all of us to be foreign missionaries, but we should all struggle with the possibility.” We simply sought God’s will for our children and taught them to do the same. We tried to be mindful to pray even as Jesus did, “not my will but thine be done.” We seek to be prayer warriors for our children and grandchildren and to be involved in as many facets of the ministry as we can, both here and around the world.

Now, some twenty-three years later, our adult children are serving the Lord and promoting missions in their respective corners of the world: Beth Anne in her church in Fairfield, OH; Edward as a church-planter in Loveland, CO; and Kristen as a missionary in North Africa. For us, raising mission-minded kids has not only been about being in the right place at the right time, but also about doing the right things.

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