In my conversations with families, particularly those with small children, I’ve found that the idea of being a part of a Missional Community* while leading and shepherding a family seems overwhelming. When challenged to live their lives on mission, it’s easy for parents to feel defeated before they ever begin.
Being in a Missional Community and being a good parent are not mutually exclusive. In fact, being part of each can actively benefit the other. However, many parents don’t feel this way because they’ve believed two lies that the modern American church has unintentionally communicated over the years.
Click to Tweet:“Being in a Missional Community and being a good parent are not mutually exclusive.” @johnmurk
Last week, I wrote a post on the first of these two lies, the lie of Christian age segregation. This is the lie that says that ministry and worship is best done by separating God’s people by their age. While there are certainly occasions for children and adults to have separate worship and teaching times, much of the Christian life can and should be lived intergenerationally.
Today, I want to focus on the second of these two lies.
The Lie of Event-Based Ministry
In the interest of serving the people of God, churches today tend to make an event for everything. Want to pray? Come to prayer meeting! Want to meet other members of our church? Come to our potluck! Want to study the Bible? Come to Men’s/Women’s Bible Study! Want to serve others in the city? Come to our Saturday Serve Day!
Events are useful, and they can’t and shouldn’t go away. However, I worry that what the proliferation of Christian events communicates is that the Christian life is lived in spurts of specific activity. Subtly, and unintentionally, the lie is told that ministry is primarily made up of discrete, individual events.
Click to Tweet:“The Christian life can and should be lived intergenerationally.” @johnmurk
For a person who knowingly or unknowingly believes this lie, it’s easy to see how overwhelming the Christian life can become. If you try to block out individual time blocks for Bible study, evangelism, serving the poor, prayer, discipling younger believers, investing in dating your spouse, growing in knowledge of God, volunteering at church, connecting with Christian community, accountability, teaching the Bible to your kids, praying as a family… and on and on… it’s easy to see how your iCal can reach its breaking point pretty quickly.
When you add to the calendar all the other events of family life, from sporting events to dance practices to orchestra rehearsals, it’s easy to see how many families opt out before even trying. Because of the lie of event-based ministry, many parents feel there’s just not enough time in the week for a Missional Community.
Relieving the Pressure
The Bible calls us to all of the things I listed above, and more. However, the Bible also emphatically states that our walk with God should not be burdensome. As Jesus says,
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, ESV)
This is good news for those who are feeling overwhelmed by the activity of the Christian life. Yes, we are to serve and lead as the Bible calls us to, but this should result in rest for our souls, not burden. But how can we get there?
The truth is that a Missional Community, when properly lived out, can help dispel the lie of event-based ministry. Rather than one more thing to add to your schedule, it can be a way to integrate these many activities together. Through a Missional Community, you can encourage other believers, learn from God’s Word , serve others in the community, share the gospel with nonbelievers, and disciple your children. All these can be integrated together, over time.
Through dispelling the lie of event-based ministry, Christianity stops being a lot of things you do, and starts being an identity that you live.
In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting some ideas on how a Missional Community that includes families and kids might look.
*A Missional Community can be defined as a small group of disciples of Jesus on mission to make more disciples of Jesus. For more information, click here to download a free e-book titled “Missional Community made simple.”