The “How” of Kids and Missional Communities

This article was originally posted on the Verge Family Channel. Thanks to author John Murchison for allowing us to share it here. 

 

Being a family that is part of a Missional Community is not only possible, but in many ways helps both your internal mission to your kids and your external mission to others. In other words, being a part of a Missional Community is a great way to be on mission to and with your kids.

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In a Missional Community, you are on mission TO your kids by involving them in a Christian community where they can see the gospel on display by the way that you love each other in Christ. “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 ESV

A Missional Community also gives you the opportunity to be on mission WITH your kids. Your children have the ability to open doors to talk to people that might normally be closed. In addition, the activities you do with your children often put you in close and regular contact with other parents that might not yet have heard and believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some families are reluctant to even try to have a Missional Community because their lives are so busy with their kids. Others, however, are eager to be a part of a small group of people on mission, but don’t know what that would look like. For these families, they don’t have a “want to” problem, they have a “how to” problem.

To support and equip these families, I am starting a short series on what it might look like to include your kids in a Missional Community.

No “One Size Fits All”

I say “what it might look like” because there is no “one size fits all” model for how to do Missional Community in general, much less how to do Missional Community with kids. However, I hope that offering some thoughts on different types of group gatherings will be helpful, and that each family can take some ideas from this series and apply them to their specific community.

At The Austin Stone, we encourage our Missional Communities to pursue three main practices:

  • To gather as a community in a Family Meal
  • To gather as disciples in Life Transformation Groups, or LTGs
  • To gather as missionaries in a Third Place

If you’d like to read more about what these practices are, check out this series by Todd Engstrom. Todd is the Executive Pastor of Campuses and Communities at The Austin Stone and has written extensively on these practices and how to apply them in your group. When you get to his resources page, scroll down to the section titled “Practices of Healthy Missional Communities.”

In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting on each of these practices, sharing how I have seen families be successful at being a part of each of these types of meetings.

Hold Your Expectations Loosely

Before I close the introduction to this upcoming series, I want to encourage you to keep an open hand on your expectations of kids and Missional Community. Many times, we get in our heads that a successful church meeting consists of a very calm meeting where everyone sits in a circle, takes turns speaking, shares what they are learning, and prays very solemnly before everyone goes home. If you’re hoping that your kids will fit into a meeting like that, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. I suppose God could perform a miracle and have your children sit quietly for the duration of that type of meeting – He has parted a sea and raised people from the dead, after all. However, I’ve never seen it happen.

But that may be okay. Because real life community doesn’t usually consist of people sitting in a circle and taking turns talking. For me, real life with my friends looks like a conversation that gets interrupted every five minutes by one of our children. Real life looks like taking a break from the party to change a dirty diaper. Real life looks like finding places to meet friends where our kids can play off to the side while we catch up on life. And it is in real life, not in some alternate reality, where we must live our Christian lives – in community, on mission, together.

So it’s okay if it gets a little crazy. It’s okay if it doesn’t go as expected. It’s okay because God can and will still use your community for your sanctification, for your discipleship of your children, and for your mission to others.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share John’s insights into the practices of family meals, Life Transformation Groups, and meeting in a third space. In the mean time, what are your thoughts? Share your opinions or experiences with the community by emailing Cailey Morgan or posting a comment on this blog.

If you’d like some help getting kids involved in missional life—or getting your church on board with the idea—Sherry Bennett would love to chat with you. Sherry’s the coordinator of the CBWC’s Children and Families Missional Network (CFam).

 

John Murchison

John Murchison

John Murchison is the Director of Children’s Ministry at The Austin Stone. He is husband to Sarah and father to Waverly and Lucy. He is passionate about making disciples of children rather than “mini-Pharisees,” and about teaching children the gospel over morality. He desires to help parents see themselves as missionaries on mission to and through their children. He’s also a fan of Pixar movies, all things Disney, comic books, and video games, and uses his job as an excuse to do “research” in these areas.

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