After glimpsing pain in my neighbor’s eyes my curiosity was stoked. That moment has led us to five years of immersion into the lives of those in closest proximity to us. We immersed ourselves in the rhythms and relationships of our neighborhood. We anticipated some great opportunities, but we didn’t anticipate training our kids to be missionaries.
Most parenting training is fear-based. It’s focused on what to keep our kids away from. We want to immerse our kids in a vision bigger than stress, consumption and self. Some parents might think we’re crazy, or at least think we have too much on our plates. We wouldn’t go back and change a thing.
Here are the four consequences of training our kids for mission through immersion …
- We have immersed them continually in the mission of God. They are ministry partners with Julie and me as we serve, bless, pray and participate in God’s global mission unfolding locally. We serve those we are in proximity to as a family.
- Our family actually knows our neighbors and we love them. Our kids are growing up around neighbors who have also become friends woven into their lives. They have inter-generational relationships. We are part of a community, not just a neighborhood.
- My kids have gotten to experience beauty and brokenness. Once you’re in proximity you can’t hide pain and dysfunction, but you also can’t hide beauty. They have gotten to experience hospitality, generosity, cuss words, divorce, pain and community. They have gotten to taste, see, smell, feel and hear the Gospel in tangible ways.
- Our home has shifted from a refuge from ministry to a hub for ministry. I’m a pastor, my kids are pastor’s kids. Our home could easily turn into a refuge from the perils of ministry. Instead, we want it to be a hub for ministry where life, grace and love spills forth into others’ lives. We want them to learn to practice welcoming the sojourner in and welcoming the wanderer.
Parenting is a beautiful space for immersion-style mission training. Don’t miss the opportunity. Many times your kids will “get it” more than you will. Invite them into a bigger vision for their lives, localize their view of ministry and arm them to bless others. My kids have hugged people closer to the Kingdom of God than my wife and I ever have.