Where have all the families gone?


We attended a wonderful missions conference this past weekend and we came away with many challenges and a few frustrations as well. Aaron and I have been excited about the work of the Lord in the nations since our teens, as we both have been on several missions trips growing up, and God has really implanted a heart to see the nations come to fear and honor our Great God and King. Missions is not limited to those who God has called to the field, we are all called to be a part of missions! Missions is the extension of God’s kingdom to the ends of the earth! It is the gathering together of worshipers from every tribe, tongue, nation and people. It is God’s heart!

What happens though when we are encouraged to set our children aside and pursue our own ministry? Are Christian children jumping ship now because they have not caught the vision of ministry as a family?

Integration of Family in Mission

One session I attended was titled, “Raising Kids on the Mission Field” and the aim of the class was to supply us with tools for how to make a smooth transition. I was eager to hear from an experienced mother on some practically ways I can adapt my children to the field in the future. I was sourly disappointed to discover that her main emphasis was to relate how she sent her children to boarding school and they preferred being with their friends than working together in ministry in the areas God had called for them. She said she would have to drag the kids, kicking and screaming, to do family ministry together because they would rather be with their friends.

At the end of the session, I asked, “would you have considered homeschooling? And do you think that would have made any difference in their attitudes towards serving together?” Her response added to my disappointment. She basically said she never considered that idea, and it would have be difficult to minister if she had been homeschooling. Did I hear you right? Are you saying that God gives us conflicting obligations? God calls mothers to be mothers! How can this be separate from the family mission?

In another session I heard how one church was striving to increase a mission heart in its members. The one problem was they were taking the youth group to Mexico, the middle school students were serving downtown handing out meals, the elementary students had their own service project. I commend their efforts to serve, but what every happened to integrating the family? Where are the fathers and mothers? Are they serving in some other capacity, separate from their children? How will this passion for the establishment of God’s kingdom be passed down to the next generation if we are not working together with our children in serving the poor and needy. Are these children seeing it walked out in their parents lives if they are always divided?

The Foundation of Our Society

America has lost its value of the family as one of the primary institutions for a successful society. Without this fundamental establishment, every other aspect of society is falling apart. We are sending children away as much as possible, their own school, their own Sunday school event, youth group, etc. Where have all the families gone?

Keeping Family a Priority

I strongly believe that being raised in a homeschooling family has been key to building strong family relationships in our family. We were forced to make our siblings our friends (not to say we didn’t have others outside, but the siblings were around us constantly, and we had to decide whether to live in constant rivalry or let it all go and just enjoy being the closest of friends!). I treasure my sibling relationships now (it wasn’t always like that though, I attribute it to the grace of God in my life). I love the ways we served together as a family. We were not dragged to it, kicking and screaming as this woman described. What made the difference? Keeping family first!

My parents placed a priority on family time. We placed a priority on serving together. If one of us was invited to serve in some capacity, we had to include one of the other siblings. If one of us was invited to an event or activity, we always included one of the others. Family night on Fridays was held highly. We couldn’t miss this special night focused on family activities. We took trips around the country in our trailer, and these are some of the best memories we have! God has instilled in me a love for children, why? Because I love my siblings…I want to have as many children as the Lord would bless us with, because it was so fun! I want us all to be able to serve together in the mission that God calls us to. My first priority is to my children and not to leave them behind. This is a high and holy calling!

Thanks for letting me vent…


The Russia Team – families serving together! Aaron & I participated along with two of his brothers, one of which is married with a little one along too, my mother, two of my sisters, and others. This is one of my favorite memories!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

17 Responses to Where have all the families gone?

  1. Julie January 23, 2008 at 4:48 am #

    Great post. Have you read the book Family Driven Values by Voddie Bauchman JR? He talks about how important it is to build that relationship with your children and keep them with you. I think it goes right along with what you are talking about.
    On a seperate note I have friends who are missionaries and they keep their two daughters with them. They homeschool using the ABEKA videos. Last time they were home on furlough it was so nice and refreshing to spend time with two young ladies who had lived a life of ministry. They were a lot different than the normal teens and preteens I am used to seeing. More calm and full of joy. More eager to jump in and lend a hand. I never once saw them be disrespectful or sulky. I think the mission field is a great place for kids to learn real priorities.

    • Lindsay January 23, 2008 at 8:35 am #

      I have not read Voddie Bauchman’s book, but it has been highly recommended to me. I have heard the excellent sermon on this topic. I will post a link.

  2. donna (mom24boyz) January 22, 2008 at 6:31 pm #

    excellent post–Society or better yet Satan has a goal of tearing as many families apart as possible–he hopes to make children seem as a burdern and not a blessing.

    I cheer you on –hold tight to your blessings and train them up to honor God–He will not forsake you!

  3. Kristi Madrigal January 22, 2008 at 12:09 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post! Our family is a full time missionary family in the United States working with youth, and I wholeheartedly agree with all of your concerns in this area. We have chosen to homeschool our 3 children in order to include them in the lifestyle God has called our entire family to be a part of. I believe that if I did not teach them to be servants to the mission and to God’s will for our lives I would be cheating them out of the incredible experience and life lessons we are all learning through this. If I had decided to send them to school and babysitters whenever we had an event or a mission trip they would miss out on lessons of living by faith, standing by what you believe in, learning from good teen role models, sacrificing for the sake of the call. Not to mention the amazing miracles we have seen our Lord perform over and over again. Yes, homeschooling is hard. Being in full time ministry is, at times, difficult. Putting the two together sometimes seems utterly impossible. But I would not trade either of them because looking back I know what my children would be missing out on.

  4. Ann at mommysecrets January 22, 2008 at 11:32 am #

    Amen! My friend was at a missions conference this weekend in Atlanta – I wonder if you were there too!

  5. Stephanie January 22, 2008 at 7:30 am #

    I was going to comment, and realized I had too much to say, so I think I will link to your post and blog about it myself! :) Thanks for a great post!

  6. Jeana January 22, 2008 at 4:41 am #

    Hi, Lindsay! I found your blog through Stephanie and I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks now. I kept nodding my head throughout this whole post, because we feel the same way. It’s one of the reason I enjoy blogging so much, because I’ve found some sort of community online, of people who see family the way we do.

    Our church supports a missionary family in Brazil who homeschool. I’ve talked with her some about it, and I’m sure she would be glad to e-mail with you, if you would like to ask her some of your questions.

  7. Ana January 21, 2008 at 10:06 pm #

    I agree with you. It seems that society tries very hard to weaken family ties. Unfortunately this has seeped into the church. One great example is having services without the children and putting them in the nursery or other classes.
    I am sad that your conference was not what you had expected. On another note I attended the Maxwell conference which was such a blessing. They spoke about keeping our children’s heart and one way that they mentioned was to do things together as a family. It was such a great conference. Anyone who lives near where a conference is being held I would highly recommend it.

  8. Chrissy January 21, 2008 at 9:17 pm #

    What a excellent post. I didn’t have this upbringing on the most part. But Thank God he has put mentors in my life to show me the importance of this. We have our Family Friday’s. They are a must. We try to all work as a team. You very tastefully wrote this post and I love it.

  9. Joy January 21, 2008 at 8:45 pm #

    Wow, I recently signed up for your feed–I just found you accidentally on the web. But I think I was at the same conference! Actually I was only at the Sunday session, so I’m not sure.

    Years ago, God gave me a vision of an MK summer school. I don’t know how it will look, but the heart of it was to allow high school age students to come together for 1-2 months in the summer for the boarding school experience, but to spend the rest of the year serving along side their parents as missionaries. It would also be a service to the parents to help with difficult course work and would include correspondence work throughout the year and probably some testing to help students get into college, etc. There’s actually some support for me to do this one day at the church that hosted the mission conference, but we’ll see what works out.

    The interesting part is this all came up before I even considered homeschooling or understood what you were talking about with families staying together. I really think that’s a big part of it. People just don’t realize what sending your kid to school means for the family dynamic–much less boarding school. I really hope for my own family to be able to have the kind of community in my home that you describe.

  10. Erica January 21, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    I am being really challenged by the Lord in this area. I am a SAHM of 3…2 of whom are in school (one for half day, the other full day) and I always laughed when I heard that Moms were homeschooling their children. I personally couldn’t wait til they all were in school full time so I could have some time for myself. The latest thing God’s been laying on my heart? Homeschooling, of course! Hah…He’s giving me such a joy lately for being with my children and I am beginning to see that they are the part of God’s kingdom He’s intrusted to my hands…can I really do it part time? Did He intend someone to raise them up…or did He expect us to do it?

    There’s still a ways to go…especially with Hubby’s heart. We’ll see. If nothing, else it is good to be challenged by the Lord!

  11. Mrs. Taft January 21, 2008 at 1:46 pm #

    What a GREAT post. We are all called to minister, and while sometimes that will call us into separate things, it will never (IMO) divide a mother from her children for any length of time. How sad for that mother and their children. :(

    You look so familiar to me…are you, by chance, related to someone named Jeanette or Julie (who are sisters)? They would have lived in Seattle when younger…

    • Lindsay January 22, 2008 at 10:48 am #

      That’s funny…but no, I only have a mother-in-law named Julie and an Aunt with that name, but neither of them look anything like me. ;)

  12. Jamie January 21, 2008 at 1:22 pm #

    Wow what a great post! Thanks for sharing! I agree that serving together as a family is very important! I love your blog! Just found it a little while ago as I’m new to the blogging world! :-)

  13. Samara Root January 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Hi Linds-
    That is so true!!! It is VERY RECENTLY (i.e. last 30 years?) in “missions history” that foreign missionaries could even THINK about their children joining them. It was all boarding schools. The missions organizations assumed the wife would be full-time missionary and the children would be away (even a separate country) at boarding school. The concept I have of being not a “missionary” but a “missionary’s wife” was little-known. Praise God that this terrible idea is changing as homeschooling becomes an option and sending organizations are easing their requirements of wives/mothers. My husband’s grandfather grew up as an MK in India. From the age of seven he was away at boarding school. So sad! May God help us, as wives, to keep our husbands and children our main mission.

    Okay, so I vented too :-)


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