Let's Read: Helping children and young people see their role in God’s mission

Monday, 4th March 2024
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Let's Read: Helping children and young people see their role in God’s mission

By Claire McNabb 

When you think of a mission trip, what immediately comes to mind? Is it a team of 15 young people going to Africa in the summer for a couple of weeks to help in an orphanage? Is it running the children’s programme at a big conference? Yes, of course, but it’s more than that. It’s sharing the hope of the gospel at the food bank down the road as you hand out essentials, or by visiting the homeless centre, the nursing home or the prison to tell them about Jesus. Going on a mission trip doesn’t have to take you to another country, neither does it have to be with 15 other young people. It’s about sharing the gospel wherever you are, with the people around you—including your family!

The final chapter of Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission focuses on mission which I think is a great place to finish this book on discipleship because as Kennedy says “discipleship must move beyond the church and home” (p.185). Kennedy looks at Christ’s command that we go and make disciples, as well as God’s role in mission.

So, how do we “join God on mission—controlled and empowered by his love to be gospel-fuelled ambassadors to the world” (p.185)? Well, we need to teach children about mission and then give them opportunities to serve. Does your curriculum teach about God’s mission and our role within it? Do your believing children and young people know that they have the responsibility and the privilege of sharing this message with their family, friends, classmates, and others? I’m involved in youth weekends and summer camps and one of the ways we try to do this is by having a missionary project—we tell the young people about the need (whether it’s a person or a project) and then help them to get involved by praying, giving or going to help. It’s amazing to see them grasp that they have a role to play, and it isn’t just something for older Christians to help with. Take Kennedy’s suggestion seriously and set up a FaceTime with a missionary that your church supports or get the kids to bring in items for a care package. Help them from a young age to learn to give their money generously to further the gospel.

“Faith should move kids and families to be ambassadors for Christ who love their neighbours and take the good news to the world” (p.185). We want our children and young people to be gospel spreaders wherever they are, and therefore we want to give them opportunities to do that. Take a look around you at what the needs are in your town and help families get involved—is it visiting the local nursing home, or the homeless shelter? Could you bring your teenager along as you do door-to-door work, or go along with your child to give out invitations to the Holiday Bible Club? In whatever context you find yourself create opportunities for your children and young people to actively share their faith alongside you!

Perhaps you could pray, with Kennedy, the following prayer for those in your church family:

Our prayer is that the next generation will be empowered by God’s Spirit to reflect the kind of multi-cultural—every tribe and tongue—community we’ll encounter when the kingdom comes (Rev. 7:9). May they be a generation that does not seek comfort but instead lives radical lives of faith in Christ. May they do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God (Mic. 6:8). (p.193)

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