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Found this at Matt Ritchie’s blog “Running with the Lion” and thought it relevant to part of what I’m struggling with, and what I’m sure many others are dealing with.

Occasionally, when the subject of missional living comes up during a conversation with a young parent, I will hear something like this:

One way you can be “missional” is to raise good children. Thats what I’m doing.

The idea is that being a responsible parent and instilling the right attitudes and behaviors in your child is an important spiritual responsiblity. Thus, “missionality” is recharacterized as going about the critical task of child rearing without regard to the reaching out to the marginalized in society.

But it seems to me that this recharacterization does a serious disservice to our children.

As a parent, my job is to raise my children to be disciples of Jesus, and Jesus’ life was about reaching out into the margins of society. How will my children ever learn to imitate Jesus in this way if they (a) never see their parents doing it and (b) are never given opportunities to learn how to do it themselves?

Rather than serving as a free pass for avoiding the marginalized, the responsiblities of parenthood ought to be urging us toward greater commitment to serving those who are weak and powerless in our communities. 

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2 Comments

  1. The only way for “raising good children” to be a missional act is be redefining the term “good”. If we mean raising kids who fit the status quo, don’t rock the boat, and are “good citizens” of the U.S., then we risk becoming the opposite of missional. If, however, we raise kids to serve others, to love their neighbor, to be a “friend of sinners” with all the risks that brings, then we perform a missional act.

    In other words, we have to follow the example of Abraham, who knew the best thing he could do for his son was to give him up to God.

  2. Well. . .
    Our aim as parents is to be missional. But even if we are good examples – and even if our kids follow suit, we are still fallen and we are going to mess up. I don’t know that the attraction is so much our personal goodness (serving, loving, befriending) as it is that we are real people with a certain hope. I can’t stand on the pedestal of “good” — it’s small and it will hurt a lot when we fall off!

    I think that being real – with the good, bad and ugly that “real” brings, in spite of our best intentions – is what gives us ground to relate. City on a hill, yes. But not a perfect one! Could it be that winning credibility has more to do with how we are the same than different?

    Food for thought.


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