Missional Family: What is a Missional Family?

A few months ago, my husband came upon the concept of missional communities. He’d heard of them before, but hadn’t really done a lot of research into the idea. He read a little bit about some of the underlying concepts, encouraged me to read about it too, and all of a sudden we were having a discussion about making our own family more mission-minded. It didn’t take long before we knew we had to commit to becoming a missional family.

What is a missional family?

A missional family is a family that takes the Great Commission seriously, and lives as if it applies to them.

Basically, a missional family is one that does what every Christian is supposed to do:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…

It’s really not rocket science, but it wasn’t something we were really 100% living like we were invested in (as a family), before.

Wait a minute: Isn’t my family my mission?

Yes. but it’s not your whole mission.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I are all in on the idea that parents are 100% the most qualified people to help their children grow into devoted disciples of Jesus. We both spend a lot of our time and energy on discipleship parenting. I mean, the whole point of this blog is to help people learn out to focus on leading their kids to Christ.


Here’s the thing: We’ve got to teach our kids to make disciples, too. It’s true that a lot of that is modeling, and our kids are learning discipleship from experiencing how we are working with them. But showing Jesus to people outside of our home, our family, and our comfort zones is a completely different ball game. Don’t we want to teach our kids how to reach others, too?

My husband and I have decided that an important way to keep building our family identity on Christ is to show our kids that He can work through us when we put ourselves out there for Him. So, we’re trying to make and take opportunities for turning our (mostly) inwardly-focused discipleship efforts outward to the people who are all around us, but who aren’t a part of our normal bubble–and we’re involving our kids every step of the way.

What does a missional family look like?

Becoming a Missional Family: A Beginner's GuideThe short answer is that a missional family looks like YOUR family, when you’re actively and intentionally working to reach people outside of your home with the Gospel in your everyday life.

Before you envision us knocking on doors and handing out religious tracts for 6 hours every day, let me just say that there are lots of ways of being a family on mission. It can look like moving to a faraway place to reach a far-flung corner of the world, or it can look like venturing out into your neighborhood and cultivating relationships with people in your sphere.

I guess the point is that there’s no exact prescription. How your family takes on missional living is between you and the Holy Spirit. God knows exactly who you and your family are going to reach (even if you don’t have a clue), and He’s got a plan that fits your unique dynamic.

A note for the struggling mama

Guess what? Not all of us are being called to dive deeper into missional family living right now, and that’s okay. My kids are 3 and almost 5 and it has taken me this long to feel like I’m starting to become a regular person again. I still struggle with mom guilt and even some shame over not being the mother, wife, and person that I think I should be. If doing what you’re doing is all you can do, that’s okay, mama. It really is enough. Lean on Jesus and keep on being amazing. Reach out when you need to and find someone who will listen. This post is in no way intended to make you feel like you need to do more in this season.

What’s the main focus of a missional family?

The main focus on mission (which you can see by reading through the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ time on earth) is building positive relationships with people–meeting their needs, loving and accepting them (even when we don’t think everything they do is awesome), and serving them.

Sharing information about Jesus is part of being a missional family, but it’s not the main focus of being missional.

Just like, as Christian parents, we can’t give our kids our relationship with Christ, we can’t give it to our neighbors, either. Everyone must form that relationship for themselves. However, modeling the relationship each of us has with Jesus will go a long way toward showing the people around us how precious and desirable that relationship is.

It starts with inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives to work through us, bear fruit (the spiritual fruit of Galatians 5:22-23) in us, and reaching out to others to share the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control we have been given. By living our lives in relationship with the people around us, we share what growing closer to Christ as done for us in a really approachable and practical way (that requires no special training).

Can we tell people what we know about Jesus, the Bible, and Christian living? Of course! But sharing within the context of an established positive relationship is going to go a LOT farther in reaching someone’s heart than preaching to people who don’t know much about us (other than how noisy our kids are in the backyard sometimes).

Sharing information about Jesus is PART of being a missional family, but it’s not the main focus.

How can my family become a missional family?

If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking about how this is great and all, but you need actual, real-life suggestions for how to do this.

My goal is always to share something practical, so there are 5 more posts (all super practical, I promise) on this topic coming right up!

Here’s what you can expect from the Missional Family: Bread Life series

My husband and I have taken the things we learned (by reading a whole bunch, discussing any time we had a minute together, listening to podcasts, and praying) and we came up with a 5-part model that we’ve been using to help move our family, kids included, into alignment with our mission to make disciples.

Check out the Mission Lab podcast for some great information and inspiration!

We call it the BREAD model (which is easy to remember) and I’ll be sharing what each part of the model stands for and how we actually incorporate it into our very real, messy, socially-distanced lives on the daily.

I almost never do the video thing, but for this series I collaborated with my husband (on Youtube at Disciple Parenting) to make videos to go along with each part of the BREAD model. I’ll include the videos in my posts just in case you need the TL;DR, but I’ll be digging in a little deeper on Disciple Mama to be sure you get an idea of what living this out is really like for my family. (Because you need the full report, right?)

On the blog I’ll be sharing what’s really worked well for us, and what hasn’t so much. I’ll also be open about how it feels to be putting myself out there on mission as an introvert who loves to wear pajamas all day. Spoiler alert: it actually hasn’t been bad. If I can do it, you can do it.

Remember we’re all in this together, and God’s just waiting for us to answer whatever call He’s put in our hearts. Take some time to think and pray about it, and if you think He’s calling you to focus your family more fully on the Great Commission, I’ll do my best to help get you thinking about how you can make it work for your family.

Check back next week for the next part of the series: Missional Family: BREAD Life (B is for Bless). See you soon!

Other posts you’ll love:

Be the Church: 8 Ways to Minister in a Pandemic

October is Pastor Appreciation Month–Need gift ideas?

Tips for Meaningful Family Worship

7 Biblical Truths to Teach Your Kids