Why is it that people can come back from an exhausting mission trip and tell you it was one of the best experiences of their life?  It has to be more than the beautiful scenery, or else everyone who comes back from a cruise would have the same glow.  No, there’s got to be something more to the story.

If you are familiar with this blog at all, you know that I am an outspoken proponent of foster parenting.  This hasn’t always been the case.  About 3 years ago I finally agreed with my wife that we could take open our house to a child in need.  3 years and 7 different foster kids later, I’d tell you it’s one of the best decisions we’ve made for our family.

“Fostering is great for kids, but transforming for families.”  I’ve said this to many people as they’ve asked what it’s like to have a gaggle of kids running around the house.  To me, it’s not about the fostering.  It’s about our family living on mission – together.

I was reading the book, A Heart for the Community: New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry the other day when a chapter title jumped out at me.  It was this – Unleashing the Family: Safe Families For Vulnerable Children.  The chapter title aptly described a book I hope to write in the future.

Listen to what the authors say at location 7655…

There are few opportunities today for an entire family to minister together. Church programs and ministries are usually divided by age and sometimes gender. This is helpful in meeting the specific needs of various groups. However, when possible, ministering together as a family promotes unity and allows our children real experience in living out their faith. The Christian family is one of the most powerful sources of change in our society. Our homes are a powerful change agent. Rather than sheltering our families, we need to unleash them for ministry. It is easy for us to see our families as fragile, requiring us to handle them with care by defending and protecting rather than unleashing.”

Dogs are similar to families because they both need to be…. unleashed.

I know, cheesy pun on words.  But true none-the-less.  Having a foster child in our home has been a rallying cry for my entire family.  Our kids share in the joy and the pain of fostering.  They get to see the smiles on our foster kids’ faces when they play in the sprinkler together, but they also experience the frustration of noisy crying babies or toddlers that fight over their toys.

At either end of the spectrum – the joy and the pain – our family is unified in the purpose of caring for the fatherless.

What purpose does your family share?  It could be:

– Your family is hospitable.  You are constantly inviting friends, neighbors, and maybe even strangers into your home.  They learn what it means to welcoming.

– Your family is generous.  You include your kids in giving to many different people or organizations.  They learn what it looks like to be a faithful steward of what God has provided you.

– Your family serves.  You and your kids help people often.  You help neighbors with yard work, or serve meals at a local shelter, or volunteer with your church or charities.  They learn that worldly recognition is not what life is all about, and they gain a greater understanding of the nature of a servant.

There’s a myriad of ways your family could be unleashed on mission together.

At location 7669….

When a family is given a life-changing purpose that requires the involvement of every member, new life and energy is breathed into the family. Some have said that their family now has a purpose beyond just raising the next generation.”

We can’t expect our kids to understand what living out their faith looks like.  We need to show them.  What a great opportunity to do this – together.

What are some other purposes that families might share?

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