Originally published Thursday, 20 March 2014.
I recently posted 12 Ways to Encourage Missionaries. In the post, I mentioned that the tips shared were the fruit of a discussion amongst some of the ladies at our church. Another component of that same discussion was how to cultivate an interest in missions amongst children.
Below is a summary of 12 ways to encourage your own children to be more missions-minded:
- Read missionary updates or portions of news to the children to generate and strengthen their interest. Often I just read the newsletters myself and don’t remember to share the news and prayer points with my kids.
- Set aside a specific day or days in the week to pray for specific missionaries or missions endeavors. Our family prays every Monday evening for certain missionary friends. Not only does it encourage our kids to take an interest in what is going on in the field, but it also forces me to be up to date with prayer requests to be able to share with our children.
- Have a map or a globe displayed in the house. If possible, mark points on the map and/or include pictures of missionaries for whom your family can pray.
- Read missionary biographies aloud as a family. Designate a regular time to read, such as every Saturday evening, or during Spring Break or Christmas break. Hearing real-life stories read aloud can spark a flame of interest in a child’s heart.
- Give your kids an opportunity to give. Tell them when there is a need, and encourage them to pray for the Lord to provide. Encourage them to set aside a portion of their allowance to give toward charity or missions. Even as adults the Scripture is true, that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If your kids part with their own money to support a mission endeavor, their interest will likely be invested as well.
- Introduce your kids to a variety of foods from different cultures. Use the opportunities to teach them to be flexible, and to educate them about other cultures unfamiliar to them. Emphasize the fact that it can be very offensive in certain cultures to refuse food that has been served, and could even have a negative effect on gospel efforts.
- Include foreign language as part of their education. If your child does decide to pursue cross-cultural work later in life, the value of having learned at least one other language early in life will make a huge difference if they have to learn another language later on.
- Teach them about world religions. Increase their awareness of Satan’s schemes and the myriad of ways he seeks to deceive people and turn their eyes away from the truth. Challenge them to think about apologetics, and how they might defend the faith against conflicting belief systems.
- Let them become pen pals with missionary kids. Take your children to the library and let them research the country where their pen pal lives. Encourage them to ask questions about the culture as they write letters back and forth.
- Find ways to seek out and befriend international people living in your region. If you live near a college campus, consider getting involved as a family with an international student society. If there are refugees or immigrants in your area, see how you can get to know them and be a blessing to them. Think about creative ways to learn about their country and culture as well as how to share the gospel with them if they don’t yet know Christ.
- Go on a missions trip as a family. Instead of heading straight to the beach or the ski slopes for Spring break, consider volunteering during your time off. The impact that such an experience will have on your children will likely be immeasurable.
- As they get older, encourage your children to go on a missions trip, either with their school or their youth group or other organization. The best way to instill a passion for missions is by personal experience!