How Parents Can Teach Kids About Missions

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From the time they were born, I knew I wanted to teach my kids about missions. My husband was an IMB Journeyman and now directs Southeastern’s Center for Great Commission Studies. I grew up going on short-term mission trips and felt called to missions in my early 20s. Though we are stateside at this time, we desire to raise our kids first, to believe the gospel (Lord willing) and second, to know what to do with the gospel after they believe.

The gospel is good news for the whole world. We want our children to be aware of the vast need for worldwide gospel proclamation and how God is working through missionaries to make His name known among the nations. Perhaps one day, He may call them to serve Him in this way, too.

Our kids are 4 and 3, and I’ve found various ways to expose them to the nations in age-appropriate ways. In case you’re at a loss for where to start, here are six suggestions:

1. Read the Bible and books about missionaries and other countries.

You can begin reading the Bible and Bible stories to your kids starting from a young age. Point out how God is redeeming the nations through His people. Focus on the Great Commission passages and ask your kids how they think they can obey Jesus’s command to make disciples around the world.

Reading books to your kids can serve two purposes. First, it can expand your kids’ knowledge about the world (both geographically and culturally) and teach them how people from history have sought to share the gospel around the world. Second, it can spark conversations in which you can help them critically think about and apply what they’ve learned from those books. I made a list of books here to get you started. Bonus: you can find application questions and discussion guides on the publisher’s website for many of the missionary biographies found in this list.

2. Get involved with the nations in your neighborhood.

If you live in the vicinity of a major city (or even a smaller one), chances are, there are communities around you comprised primarily of people from other countries. Check with your local church leaders and ask if they know of any ministries that serve refugees and other international peoples in your area. There’s a chance you can serve with those ministries and involve your kids, too. For example, one ministry in my city serves refugee families in a variety of ways. One of these is offering homework help to elementary through high-school age children.

A few other ways you can introduce your kids to the nations in your neighborhood is by taking them to eat at an ethnic restaurant, visit a cultural center, attend an international festival nearby, or visit an international place of worship (Christian or otherwise—but call or check online to ensure it’s open to the public).

3. Introduce your kids to present-day missionaries.

Admittedly, this is easier for some than others, depending on where you live and how involved your church is in missions. If you know a missionary, try to stay in touch with them, put their prayer card on your fridge, and talk to your kids about what they are doing. Try inviting stateside missionaries over for dinner, or encourage your church to invite a missionary to come speak during a worship service or small group gathering—one that includes your kids.

Let's teach our kids Christ's last words to the church and help them learn that they, too, can participate in God's mission to see people from every nation worshipping Jesus at His return.

4. Pray about missions and for missionaries.

You can always pray with your kids for the work of missionaries around the world. I placed this suggest after the ones above because each of the previous suggestions gives kids a specific example to remember as they pray for the missionaries they have met, for people from other countries to know Jesus, or for God to help them know how they, too, can obey the Great Commission. You can also check out the IMB’s website for prayer guides and information about unreached people groups.

5. Contribute financially.

Growing up, my church faithfully collected the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering every year. As a kid, I got involved in this offering via little rice-bowl-shaped piggy banks. I would collect my coins and try to fill that bowl as full as I could. On a designated Sunday, we would carry them to church and bring them to the front as our small contribution to a vitally important offering.

Though the rice-bowl-banks have gone by the wayside, you can still involve your kids in giving financially to support missions. The first step is to give them a vision for what their money goes toward—the suggestions above can help with that. Help them understand that the money is not for them to keep, but encourage them to get excited to give it away! Then, help them think of creative ways to raise money for missions. For older kids, a lemonade stand, car wash, or bake sale can be a fun way for kids to earn some cash. For younger kids, you may give them a small allowance for simple chores.

6. Go on a short-term mission trip.

Consider going on a short-term mission trip and take your kids with you. There are all kinds of variables to consider: your child(ren)’s age(s), abilities, school schedule, available childcare, etc. Once kids are old enough, though, a short-term mission trip is a great way to give practical and tangible exposure to God’s work around the world.

My husband, by nature of his job, leads several short-term mission trips a year. Our kids are too young to go with him. So, when their dad is in another country, we try to show them on a map where Daddy is going, explain what he’s doing, why he’s going, and tie it back to books we’ve read with them about other missionaries who are obeying the Great Commission.

As we say here at Southeastern, “Last words are lasting words.” Let’s teach our kids Christ’s last words to the church and help them learn that they, too, can participate in God’s mission to see people from every nation worshipping Jesus at His return.

Check out Meredith’s children’s book, Go Tell Everyone: 9 Missionaries Who Shared the Good News.

Find Meredith online at meredithcook.net.


  • Discipleship
  • Great Commission
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  • Women
Meredith Cook

Meredith Cook is married to Keelan Cook and mom to two tiny redheads. She is the Grant Coordinator for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she earned an M.Div. in Missiology. Meredith is the author of "Go Tell Everyone: 9 Missionaries Who Shared the Good News," a children's board book about the Great Commission and some missionaries who sought to obey it. You can find her online at meredithcook.net and Twitter.

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