Welcome to the 31 Days of Global Missions with Kids series! Click here to check out all the posts in the series.
We know it’s important to involve children and teenagers in global missions. We’ve talked about developing global awareness, but there’s another part of the “foundational stage” that I want to discuss before we move on into specific ways to serve in global missions with kids: raising “World Christians.”
When we talked about developing global awareness, that was mostly in the sense of teaching geography and learning about other countries – something both Christian and non-Christian families might like to do.
When we talk about raising World Christians, we’re specifically talking about Christian families developing an attitude where we want to advance His kingdom reign throughout the globe.
I first heard the term “World Christians” through an article by Noel Piper. I also like the term “kingdom kids!” (But didn’t want to include teenagers from this important concept.)
Here are ideas for raising World Christians with the young people in your life:
- Teach Bible verses about God’s heart for all nations.
- Go through a missions devotional curriculum like the Perspectives Family Journey and Compassion’s Step into My Shoes programs together.
- Read missionary biographies and talk about stories of modern-day missionaries.
- Talk about the persecuted church (more on this next week!)
- Listento music with a kingdom mindset. Here’s my Global Missions with Kids playlist and my (short) Cross-cultural Music playlist on Spotify.
- Visit or join a multi-ethnic church. Look in your community (or just type in your city name + “church” on Google and see what comes up.) Many ethnic groups have churches with services in their language – Spanish, Chinese, Korean, etc. Take a day to visit one of these churches. Prepare your children ahead of time that they may not understand. Also, some ethnic groups have a different view of time than you may have… you might want to be prepared for the service to start late. Check out some general tips for surviving worship services with your kids here – these would be especially helpful in a new setting.
- Serve in global missions together. Starting this week, we’ll begin to look at specific, practical ways to serve in global missions together with your kids, like prayer, packing a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child, sponsoring a child, purchasing fair trade gifts, supporting overseas missionaries, blessing refugees and international students, starting a backyard Bible club, helping people in poverty and pregnant women, supporting the persecuted church, and doing missions overseas, whether on a short-term trip or as a career.
- Teach an overarching view of Scripture as a story that points to Jesus and His love for all nations, rather than just a series of disjointed stories. Sometimes we have a tendency to just pick and choose stories from the Bible, teaching Noah one week and David the next, without explaining the connection points between them. There are some excellent resources for teaching the Bible as one big story, including The Story initiative or the Jesus Storybook Bible.
- Gently encourage participation in “world Christian” activities, but don’t force them into it.
- Offer exposure at an appropriate level, and don’t dismiss your child’s fears and uncertainty. It can be scary to talk to someone in another language or someone who is poor or who smells bad. So don’t force too much. One of my favorite bloggers, Crystal from MoneySavingMom, recently took her kids to South Africa on a mission trip, and I was surprised to hear how her kids were freaked out about the lengthy plane flight, because I love long plane flights! It was a good reminder that kids may be concerned about something that doesn’t even cross our minds.
- Teach – and model – a mindset that other cultures are equal to your own. Be careful to avoid an attitude that “we” are better than “them.” Another culture is not worse because they are different. They are not worse because they are poor or have less resources available. As your child processes learning about another people group, share gentle reminders of the value of those other cultures: “Did you know that Mr. Jose was a lawyer in his home country?” or “Let’s look at pictures on the internet of this famous landmark from our new friend’s home.”
- Make your global missions efforts fun, but avoid teaching self-centeredness. Remember, the purpose of missions is glory to God and Christ made known… not me feeling all happy inside. Let your kids know that you’re proud of them for serving the Lord and serving others… but you don’t need to go on and on, putting them on a pedestal. You don’t need to emphasize the warm fuzzy feelings after we serve someone. Instead, you can emphasize continued prayer to the people you served.
For additional ideas on raising world Christians, check out this excellent article on Home-Grown World Christians by Noel Piper.