Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Ann Dunagan's book, The Mission-Minded Family: Releasing Your Family to God's Destiny, (Authentic Books, 2007).
God's call to reach lost people with the Gospel is for all believers – adults and children alike. Your whole family can go on a lifelong mission together to share the hope found only in Christ. Answering God's call to focus your family outward can bless each of you as you all bless others.
Here's how you can pursue mission work as a family:
View your family as a vehicle for ministry. Your family isn't an obstacle to missions ministry work, and you don't have to neglect your family to pursue ministry. Your family can actually become stronger as all of your family members devote themselves as a team to serving others outside your family. Your family and missions work are compatible and mutually supportive of God's purposes. Your family can play a valuable role in helping to expand God's kingdom!
Seek God's plans rather than your own. Instead of asking God to bless your plans for your family, pray for God to show you His plans for your family. Then base your decisions on God's plans.
Release your kids. Let go of your own agendas for each of your kids' lives and be willing to accept whatever God wants for them, trusting that He knows what's best for them. Help your kids discover God's purposes for their lives, and encourage them to fulfill those purposes – no matter where God may take them in the process. Just as God released His Son for you, you need to release your kids daily to pursue His eternal purposes.
Focus on eternity. Rather than focusing on what you can accomplish in this world, focus on what you can accomplish that has eternal value. Be most concerned about pleasing God and preparing for the moment when you'll meet Him in heaven.
Live in submission. Submit yourself completely to God and His purposes for your lives. Trust and obey His guidance in every area of your lives – spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc.
Strategically aim your family in the right direction. Get to know the specific spiritual gifts and natural talents of every member of your family. Then ask questions to help discover God's direction for your family as a team. Consider such questions as: "Is your family called to hospitality?", "Is your family called to active leadership within your local church?", "Is your family called to specifically impact your neighborhood?", and "Taking into account your family's specific gifts, abilities, and resources, what are ways you can participate in God's Great Commission?". As your kids grow, pay attention to how they're developing spiritually, mentally, and physically. Challenge them to take risks to try serving in new ways whenever you sense they're ready to do so.
Pay attention to life's rhythms. Alternate between work, rest, and play so your family won't be stressed by an unhealthy lifestyle. Devote your time and energy to various activities whenever God leads you to do so, and your family will achieve a healthy balance appropriate for different seasons of your life together. Check in with God about your schedule daily, since He sees the whole picture and can guide you to what's best for all concerned.
Intercede effectively for people in prayer. Pray regularly as a family for God's purposes to be released and fulfilled on earth. Acknowledge your sin and the fact that you can stand before God as a righteous person only because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross for you. Come to God with an attitude of total surrender and humility, keeping your heart clean and open before Him. Avoid broad, general, and vague requests. Instead, make your prayers specific, knowledgeable, and on target. Learn as much information as you can about the people or situations about which you're praying. Search the Bible for God's will and seek His direction on how best to pray. Make your prayers fervent and intense. Pray for lost people as if they're depending on your prayers and you're the only one praying for them. Create a prayer list your family can use together, to pray for individuals (like unsaved loved ones, and government leaders), ministries/organizations (like your church and school), and geographic areas (like your city and other nations). Use a two-fold strategy for intercession: First, come against evil and its influence on the people or situations for which you're praying. Then, pray for God's power to flow to accomplish the work He wants done. Whenever you sense God calling you to intercede in on an emergency basis, be willing to stop and pray right then and keep praying hard until the burden leaves and you get a sense of peace.
Use international holidays to help your family pray. Study the many different holidays throughout the world and the traditions around them. Then use specific days of the year to target different groups of people for prayer.
Manage your money to support missions well. Teach your kids the reality that all of your family's money – just like your time and talents – ultimately belongs to God. Allow the Holy Spirit to challenge every aspect of your lifestyle so you can make wise financial decisions for your family. Give generously to support full-time missionaries you know, and hold creative fundraisers to help earn more money for missions. If you and your family decide to become full-time missionaries yourselves, trust God for the financial provision you'll need.
Prepare and share testimonies. Encourage each family member to write down his or her own story of coming to faith in Christ and share it with other people effectively.
Plan creative outreach events. Think and pray about some innovative ways to gather people together to hear the Gospel. Have your kids reach other kids and plan some fun events for them.
Make use of your family's skills. The ways God can use you in ministry work are as diverse as the talents He has given you and the skills each of your family members possess. Try to connect each of your family's skills to some ministry work. If you've got computer skills, conduct training seminars or teach full-time missionaries how to use a new software program. If you can build well, take a missions trip and help construct a new church or orphanage. If you've got teaching skills, hold some workshops.
Release your family to God's destiny. Every day, renew your commitment to fulfill God's purposes in your lives. Work together the best you can, relying on God's strength, and look forward to the new adventures He has in store for you each day.
Published January 9, 2009.
Adapted from The Mission-Minded Family: Releasing Your Family to God's Destiny, copyright 2007 by Ann Dunagan. Published by Authentic Books, a division of STL US, Colorado Springs, Co., http://www.authenticbooks.com/.
Ann Dunagan is a homeschooling mother of seven and an international minister alongside her husband, Jon Dunagan. In 1986, Jon & Ann Dunagan founded Harvest Ministry. Ann has personally ministered in more than 25 countries throughout the world and she enjoys teaching children, speaking to women, and encouraging parents and teachers. The Dunagan family is based in Hood River, Oregon.