June 13, 2024

Should We Build Families Or Conduct Missions?

Shortly after my wife and I were married, we entertained, in our small two-bedroom apartment, missionaries to the Philippines. They wanted to share their burden for Bible translation to the Indigenous people there and were interested if we would take the step to becoming part of their team. We liked the missionaries and appreciated their mission– but then we started asking questions about their families.

The couple had two children– who were raised mostly away from them. They had children that they virtually never saw. Being very family-minded, even at that time, we had a hard time balancing the primary mission since the beginning– toward the primacy of family– and the call to Bible translation.

Turns out that this is a phase that the American Baptist churches have been going through, where we have been very focused on the world out there and making missionaries of other people and not really all that focused on the mission field in our own homes.

[T]hroughout the New Testament, whenever gospel doctrine is expounded, the realm of application first addressed is the household economy. When we send missionaries to the end of the earth, we’re sending them not only to labor for the conversion of individuals but for the transformation of whole families into the likeness of Christ. The lost who come to the saving knowledge of Christ will then be enrolled in the lifelong school of discipleship, and their basic curricula will involve such things as loving and cherishing their spouses, rearing their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and humbly serving the needs of one’s dependents. And in this grand tapestry, singles are not excluded but are to be woven in the organic life of the church and her mission, not treated simply as expendable free agents. God intends to renew the earth, and he does so not only through isolated individuals floating through the world like atoms but also through molecular structures which form the social fabric necessary to any nation.

The Nations and Natalism | ABWE

Individualism is a core component of the American experience– and is wholly absent in the Bible. God created Adam and Eve because it wasn’t good for man to be alone. He had relationships woven into our very existence and anyone who reads the Bible sees that family is important to God.

There’s a reason that the church is called brothers and sisters, and Jesus is described as One who sticks closer than a brother. If you look at the qualifications to be in the ministry, family is all over them because they are your first mission field. They also reflect a lot of who you are and what you believe.

So the answer to the title is “Yes”. We should be building families that are in turn reaching out and reaching other families with the Gospel. We should be in a family mindset– with families reaching families for Christ.

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