Cultivating Your Child’s Heart Towards Missions

by Brett Stowe

A picture of a map in a Bible

In Deuteronomy 6, when Yahweh was establishing His pattern whereby multiple generations of Israelites would pass on the teachings given to them, He tells His people, “You shall teach them (the commandments) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (6:7, parentheses mine).” The implication is that any teaching that is desired to be passed down from generation to generation must come from the parents. If dads are the head of the home, then the responsibility ultimately falls on them to lead in this initiative (Eph. 5:23-24).

One of the teachings that Christian dads should work to prioritize is that of missions. It is at the very core of our faith, yet, without intentionality, it can be a neglected topic. One of the reasons for this is because the topic of missions is often neglected in our own lives as fathers. If we are not careful, we can separate missions as something that other people do or consider but not us. So, dad, as you seek to implement the following ideas, don’t neglect to cultivate a heart and desire for missions in your own life.

1. Teach the Scriptures With Missions in Mind.

If we want our children to understand why the topic of missions is so important and foundational to the Christian faith, we must stop treating it as a separate category of sanctification or something we think of as “next-level Christianity.” The way to do this is to understand the big picture of the Scriptures. God has revealed Himself and His redemptive plan in the Bible, and it is our responsibility to study, learn, and do what He has revealed. This requires that we go deeper in our study of the Scriptures so that we move beyond the Biblical narratives and moral principles to the missional thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation. We then see texts like these…

  • Exodus 9:16 - But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
  • Amos 9:11-12 - In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, declares the LORD who does this” (Quoted in Acts 15:16-17 in reference to the Gospel advance to the Gentiles).
  • John 10:16 - And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
  • Revelation 5:9-10 - And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Once we see this missional thread throughout the Scriptures, we can then teach the Biblical narratives and moral principles to our children within the scope of God’s redemptive plan.

2. Encourage Your Kids to Read Missionary Biographies.

One of the most effective tools that I have found in cultivating my own heart for missions is that of missionary biographies. There is something about reading the stories, testimonies, and journeys of faithful, yet flawed, saints who have gone before us that ignites Gospel passion in our hearts. Many of the stories that I know today were read to me when I was a child, and I continue to find encouragement in my own ministry by reading the stories of those whom God has used to build His Church. If you are looking for some missionary biographies to begin with, you can start with these…

  • To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson, Courtney, Anderson
  • Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa, Vance Christie
  • Through Gates of Splendor, Elisabeth Elliot
  • By Searching: My Journey Through Doubt Into Faith, Isobel Kuhn
  • Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, Howard Taylor.
  • Christian Heroes: Then & Now series by YWAM Publishing

3. Host Missionary Families.

Allowing your children to rub shoulders with families who not only live overseas but also serve in Gospel ministry is an incredible blessing. This teaches them biblical hospitality, but it also gives them the opportunity to hear, around the dinner table, what God is doing in other parts of the world. For some families, the idea of hosting may seem a bit daunting, but this doesn’t need to be complicated.

If you are not able to have the missionary family over for a meal, consider taking them out to eat. Perhaps, dad, you and the missionary father could connect for coffee and bring your children along. If the missionary couple is younger with children, then consider having a play date while you guys chat. The important point here is that you are intentionally placing before your children those who have committed their lives to laboring overseas. I promise, your kids will remember this!

4. Take Your Children Overseas.

This idea might seem like the most daunting, and it is, but the impact that it will have on your children is far worth the investment. When your children are able to see and experience a culture outside of their own, they learn how small they are. This lesson can be redirected to teaching them how big their God is.

When your children come face-to-face with kids their age that have very little and are unsure where their next meal will come from, they are changed by this. When your children see that they don’t need an air-conditioned building, padded seats, musical instruments, and a coffee shop (although I am sympathetic), to do the work of the ministry, their mindset is transformed. Taking your children overseas may be one of the most expensive investments you make, but the return will be worth it as their hearts are stirred for the cause of Christ.

5. Pray for Missionaries.

Another way that we can encourage our children to grow in their love for missions is to pray for missionaries. As we pray for missionaries, we are reminded that there is a need for the Gospel to be proclaimed worldwide. There are many tools that can be helpful in following the needs and requests of missionaries.

It’s possible that your church has a missionary prayer booklet that you can use to pray through. You can receive monthly or bi-monthly newsletters from some missionaries. The discipline of praying for missionaries can help develop your child’s heart for the Great Commission.


We are totally dependent on God to stir our children’s hearts towards missions. We can teach the Scriptures to them, read biographies to them, expose them to missionary families, and even take them overseas, but unless God does a work in their hearts none of the previously suggested ideas will matter.

So, after hearing all of these recommendations, dads, I encourage you to pray! Pray first that God would save our children’s souls! Pray that Christ would be the Treasure of our children’s hearts! Pray that God and His mission would be the overwhelming passion of their life! And, pray that whether they go or stay, they will serve Christ with their life!

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