When I think of establishing a gospel-centered purpose for my family, I am drawn to the words that Joshua spoke to the nation of Israel at Shechem. The occasion of the public gathering was a covenant renewal before the Lord. Israel was reminded of God’s faithfulness to his chosen people through the generations and his expectation of their faithfulness in serving Yahweh and rejecting the false gods of the land. It is in this context that Joshua declares “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh 24:15). Here, Joshua leaves no room for his family to acquiesce to the gods of the people around them.
Neither should we leave any room in our family life for chasing after the idols of this world. Our earthly sojourn is a limited one and every moment must be redeemed for the cause of Christ. It is said of Joshua, after his death, that he was “the servant of the Lord” (Josh. 24:29).
This leader of Israel knew that serving the Lord entailed more than individual faithfulness; to serve the Lord is to serve together. One of the primary places that believers practice serving together is in the context of the Christian family. Such service has a lasting effect on children. Strong relationships exist between the Christian commitment of parents-particularly fathers’ service in the church-and their children’s continued participation in church after high school. Not surprisingly, family meals and family discussions about faith during teenage years also impact whether young adults continue in church.
But how, at a practical level, can families develop a clear vision for how they will be used in God’s service and mission? Here is one simple possibility: Develop a family mission statement. The precise process of developing such a statement may vary from family to family. The parents in the household, and particularly the father, are ultimately responsible for the content and implementation of this statement. At the same time, this is a process that your family can undertake together.
As you consider the process, do recall that God has already made his central mission clear in the ministry of Jesus: His mission is his own glory (John 17:1-5, 22-24). Rightly understood, any Christian family’s mission statement could begin with “Our family exists to glorify God by … .” With that in mind, here’s one way to begin the process of developing a clear mission statement for your family:
- Discuss your values. Ask your family what is most important to each of them and record the answers.
- Evaluate your values. Ask your family to evaluate each response in light of Scripture. Rework or eliminates responses that are not in agreement with Scripture. Together, perhaps over a few weeks, pray and reflect on what will become your family’s core values.
- Compose your family mission statement. As a husband and wife, allow the Scriptures to shape the direction and language of your family’s mission statement (see, for example, Gen. 12:1-3, 18:19; Josh. 24:15; 1 Kings 2:1-4; 1 Cor. 16:15). If you have children, discuss the statement with them; clarify your family’s expectations based on this Scripturally-shaped statement. How your family will engage in outreach and evangelism should be essential to this statement.
- Make a family commitment. Work with the entire family to memorize the family mission statement.
- Establish a game plan. Parents-and especially fathers-must take the initiative in planning and setting goals to implement the mission statement in specific ways in daily living.
Few Christians are clear about their personal place in God’s plan; even fewer families can clearly articulate how they plan to proclaim God’s glory to the ends of the earth. Family mission statements can provide direction in decision-making and stir a missional passion for the expansion of God’s kingdom.
 Wesley Black, “Stopping the Dropouts: Guiding Adolescents toward a Lasting Faith Following High School Graduation,” Christian Education Journal: Series 3, Volume 5, Number 1: 34. See also Wes Black, “Youth Ministry That Lasts: The Faith Journey of Young Adults,” The Journal of Youth Ministry, 4, no 2: 19-48.
The above article is an excerpt from Michael S. Wilder’s chapter, “Building Missional Families,” in Trained in the Fear of God: Biblical Foundations for Family Ministry, edited by Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones.
Michael S. Wilder (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor and Associate Dean of Doctoral Studies in the School of Church Ministries at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Michael is the co-author of Transformission (B&H) and Perspectives on Your Child’s Education (B&H). The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book, Trained in the Fear of God: Foundations for Family Ministry, edited by Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones.