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Becoming a Mission Minded Family
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Becoming a Mission Minded Family

By Ann Dunagan
Guest Writer According to the latest Barna survey, only 11 percent of all churchgoers have been on a short-term missions trip. That’s only 2 percent higher than the overall percentage of Americans who have been on any kind of brief service trip. To make matters worse, the majority of those who have gone on a missions trip did so more than five years ago—which amounts to 8 million adults out of the 228 million living in the United States.

Among the most active short-term missionaries are evangelical Christians, 23 percent of whom have ventured out to share the gospel. Interestingly enough, only 1 percent of Americans have taken a missions trip as a family. [, 10/6/08]

Ann Dunagan, author of The Mission Minded Family, tells how parents can teach their children about the Great Commission and lead in being "Mission Minded."

Q: How would you describe a mission-minded family?

In a mission-minded family, there’s a God-infused energy. There’s a focus on God’s worldwide purposes, and there’s a passion for the lost. There’s a spiritual depth and hunger that reaches beyond the maintenance mode of cultural Christianity. A mission-minded family emphasizes leadership, calling, and destiny. There’s a prevailing attitude of self-sacrifice and an emphasis on total surrender to God’s will. And there’s an unmistakable and contagious joy.

As you focus on God and His Great Commission, everything will be radically altered—including your thoughts about the world and those in need, your prayer life, your eating habits (including what things you’re willing to “try”), your disciplines in health and fitness, your family’s stewardship of faith and finances, and your decisions regarding your children’s education. A missions mindset will impact—for eternity—your focus on the future.

Q: What led to your writing of The Mission Minded Family?

In writing The Mission-Minded Family, my heart is to help families to discover God’s potential. God doesn’t want our families to be self-absorbed. He created us to glorify Him. All of us want happy families, lasting marriages, and good kids; but what I propose in The Mission-Minded Family is that in order for our families to truly be successful in God’s eyes, we’ve got to focus on God’s purposes. It’s not enough to merely “look good” in our yearly Christmas photo, or to raise super-smart, scholarship-winning kids. It’s not enough to just make money or to live in a cute clean house.

For over 20 years, our family’s been active in international missions. Although we’ve always lived in the United States, we’ve ministered around the world; and we’ve seen – with our own eyes – some heart-wrenching situations, as well as some thrilling opportunities for outreach. All along the way, we’ve been raising our seven kids... loving babies, training toddlers and teens, and sending big-kids to college. Having a missions perspective has impacted all of us; and for my husband and me, this viewpoint has definitely influenced our parenting.

Q: Do you think every Christian family is called to be mission-minded?

Every Christian, and every Bible-believing Christian family, is called to participate in God’s Great Commission to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Mark 16:15). Obviously, we won’t all be called to live overseas as long-term foreign missionaries; but we’re all called – 24-7, 365-days-a-year, to be fulltime mission-minded believers. Regardless of our current location or occupation, we are all called to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ (II Cor. 5:20) and God’s light in a dark world. Our next generation will need godly leaders in every realm of society: in the media, education, government, business, and in ministry – both locally and internationally.

Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China, once said, “The Great Commission is not an option to consider, but a command to be obeyed.”

Q: As mission-minded families, how can we balance our passion for missions with our hearts for our homes? Do we have to choose between “raising our kids” and “reaching the lost”—or is it possible to do both?

As parents, we’re called to raise our kids; and as Christians, we’re called to reach the lost. We really can’t fulfill one of these callings, if we choose to neglect the other.

As I was writing The Mission-Minded Family, I felt especially led to evaluate the homes and family-lives of well-known missionaries. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to realize that many missionary heroes with families were not heroes of the family. Some of the most prominent names in mission history had horrible problems at home; while other leaders (such as William and Catherine Booth of the Salvation Army or Hudson and Maria Taylor) found a powerful ministry-family balance.

As I began to delve deeper into these examples, I searched for clues and common-denominators for those godly world-changing leaders who had God-glorifying homes. And I believe I found the key. It’s PRAYER. The men and women of God who focused primarily on seeking the Lord and their personal devotion to Him (rather than focusing on a merely a successful ministry) seemed to find God’s divine balance for each day. As a result, not only did their ministries glorify God, but their families did as well.

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