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Parenting, Education and Mission

Recently, I was chatting with a member of our church who has been intentionally living on mission for several years amongst unreached people groups in Austin.  He has children that are similar in age to mine, so we struck up a conversation about school.  In that conversation, I was incredibly challenged by his faithfulness to consider the schooling choices of their children in light of the mission, and I asked him to write his thoughts for me.

We have deliberately kept his identity anonymous because of the sensitive context of his ministry, but I pray that his story encourages and challenges you to live all of life in light of the gospel!


Parenting and Missional Communities

Am I a good parent?

When we began to consider where to put our son into school, we were sobered by the many options and opportunities.  What would a good parent do?

Our life in Austin had placed us among a diverse group of friends and we saw many positive routes to go whether it was public or private schooling or homeschooling.  We saw great parents in all those options.

So the question came, “what does God want for us – for our son?”

Initially in preschool, we used some Christian schooling options.  These were positive experiences and quite honestly, there was a number of non-believing families that chose to place their kids there.

I had heard some sermons on the internet by a pastor I had great respect for.  He teaches his congregation that parents must choose a specific schooling option in order to faithfully steward their children.  But do we place this same expectation on “goers”?  Do you expect the missionary to keep his children out of the culture he is seeking to reach?

As we approached the decision about entering Kindergarten, we began to ask many other folks to pray with us about this decision.  We desired to make a decision that was not based on the advice of others, or the desires of our heart – but rather the priority of The Gospel.  God has demonstrated so much  kindness and forgiveness to us.  We believe that the worship of His name among all peoples should take priority before any other.  He is worth that.

I have experience with many believers serving overseas and have seen many of them rely on either ex-patriot private schools or homeschooling.  However, I also met some who were sending their children to secular school.  They believed that this would better prepare their children to be witnesses for Christ, both learning culture and language.

In the end, we decided to send our son to a school that is run by people with an entirely different worldview than our own so our entire family can continue to live and minister amongst those whom God has called us to. Practically speaking, it’s been hard!  We have to invest more time in discipling our son, and also are having some conversations that are difficult for a first-grader to grasp.  But we know we’ve been obedient.

Our heart really wrestled and prayed over the decision we made.  Honestly even as my son approached his first grade year, we continue to ask ourselves if we’re doing the right thing.  But the answer always brings us back to The Gospel.  We could make a decision based on what is in our children’s best academic interest alone.  We could not make a decision that gives us the most comfort.  The Gospel called for us to follow Jesus no matter where He led.

Choose Against Comfort 

Jesus gave up His royal status in heaven – a place of privilege and everything due Him.  But he chose against comfort.  He chose to love those who were different from him – sinners.  He chose to love people outside his own culture.

In our experience with the Gospel, we have found that we must bring every decision to the light of the Gospel.  Decisions on how to discipline.  Decisions on how to instill character and cultural manners.  And yes, even decisions on how to educate academically .

Should our son be protected and kept apart from the secular world?  Should he not learn discipleship and evangelism from a young age?

And as a parent, do I compartmentalize the decisions for my children?  Those decisions which are only for me and not for them? We asked ourselves, “Can we separate our lives and decisions from the truth of Revelation 5:9-10 and God’s plan for Jesus’ return contingent on the preaching of His Gospel to every people group on earth?”

Recently we planned for my son’s birthday party.  We realized many of my son’s friends have lots of vowels in their names and they look nothing like him.  He shared with us recently about one of his best friends who doesn’t like it when he talks about Jesus, but he shared a Bible story and his friend really liked it.

So are we good parents?

The Gospel reminds us that we are not good people or parents.  In fact we are sinful parents who desperately need the Gospel to guide us in all matters.  So our hope is not in making the most shrewd academic or social decision for our son – our hope is that he will be a part of God’s worship party when every tribe and tongue are present.   That he will be used in greater ways than we can imagine to bring God more worship.

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Soccer and the Kingdom of God

I played soccer up until high school, and always enjoyed the game, so when it came time to put Micah into sports, soccer was a natural choice.  After a few stints at the YMCA, we joined our neighborhood league and I volunteered to help coach our team.

It’s been an interesting few weeks in the fun world of coaching U6 soccer.

Thus far the kids have had a blast, but some of the parents have been difficult to love. Our team is a microcosm of the brokenness of our neighborhood.  We’ve got overly competitive dads, passive-aggressive couples, absentee fathers, and a “Christian” who is slandering and gossiping.  It has come to a head this week with what amounts to a coup d’ etat  – one of the parents invited the former coach to “help out” with practice.  Seriously?!?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are also some amazing parents who are incredibly supportive and encouraging, but it’s a little discouraging to see people ruining something so fun for Kindergartners.  As I’ve been processing the situation, the Lord has been gracious to teach me a few things.

  1. The economy of God’s kingdom is radically different than the economy of the world. I decided to help coach the team because I simply wanted to serve my neighbors. In the kingdom of God, the posture of service is pursued and celebrated.  In the world, people often treat you like a servant if you adopt a posture of service.  The Spirit empowers us in these moments to remember Jesus’ service, and lovingly and graciously continue to serve.
  2. The Kingdom of darkness is alive and well in suburbia.  Although it often looks different than brokenness in under resourced communities, there is a deep need for the gospel to set people free from their captivity to their sin.  It’s manifested in a need for glory through others, self-importance derived from little kingdoms of 6 year olds, and a slavish desire to have every expectation met.

As I have processed through the experience, it has all made me love my neighborhood more and beg God to establish His kingdom.  Without a gospel presence and a gospel witness, the kingdom of sin, Satan and death continues to reign. I pray that God would raise up more faithful followers of Jesus to declare and demonstrate the kingdom of God in these everyday places – youth soccer leagues, PTA boards, and suburban neighborhoods.

Mission doesn’t require spectacular circumstance, but supernaturally empowered every day people.

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2012 Verge Talk – Who is the Missionary?

At Verge this year, I referred to the video above from Verge 2012 as the reason why we are pursuing missional communities. It’s a simple argument for the need for new forms to engage our cities with the gospel.

What do you think needs to change about how we gather as the church?

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Refreshing Perspective | The Blueprint

I’ve really enjoyed reading Jaeson Ma’s book The Blueprint: A Revolutionary Plan to Plant Missional Communities on Campus.

Jaeson is certainly cut from a different theological tree than I am, but I have been challenged and refreshed by his perspective.  The book is essentially broken down into three sections: Prayer, Evangelism, and Missional Community.  The whole book is saturated with the Holy Spirit, and it has been a good challenge to me to consistently pray for the presence and power of the Spirit in my life.

I just finished the second section, which is an application of a life that is solely fueled by the prescription of prayer that he outlines in the first section.  The section focuses on practical demonstrations of the Spirit’s power on campus through worship, evangelism, prophetic preaching, and healing.

Although I’m not sure I agree fully with the strategy Jaeson advocates, it’s a great challenge for me to consistently push myself and students to be more bold in their witness and take much greater risk with the gospel through demonstrative action that is Christ-exalting.

I’d recommend reading this book, simply because it is a refreshing challenge and a great story of what God has done through Jaeson’s ministry.  Bottom line, he’s in love with Jesus and desperately wants to see campuses transformed.

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Lessons in Evangelism | Gentrified

Logan is doing a quick set of posts on Evangelism at Gentrified.

Below is an excerpt:

I am far from gifted in evangelism, if there was such a thing as ungifted that would be me, but I’ve learned that Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “do the work of evangelist” likely means Timothy wasn’t either, but the command is still the same. I am starting with the question of “Why should I evangelize?” because it deals with the motivation of your heart which in turn reverberates through the actions you take. Evangelism always felt simply like a command (which it is) and a duty, which left me feeling guilty and ashamed of not doing it more, but my motivations for evangelism have been changing so that it is starting to feel normal.

I’ve come up with 3 changes in motivation that explain why I have evangelized more:

1) I love God and His gospel.

2) I’ve started to actually love and care about the people around me.

3) It causes worship in me and exalts His name.

Click here for more.

I have watched the last few months as Logan has been ignited with a passion for this, and it is an encouragement and challenge for me to continue to share what God has done in my life, and the power in the cross of Christ.