Family on mission: God’s business over busyness

Posted on August 20, 2019 by VMMissions Staff

Skip Tobin (third from left) leads a huddle for couples that helps integrate the often separate spheres of family and mission. Photo courtesy of Jacob
By Carol Tobin

Family is such a loaded concept—the mere mention of which can stir our deepest pains and our deepest passions. It can be the fountain of life or the heavy chain of dysfunction from which we long to escape. It means different things in different cultures. In our culture, it tends to be nuclear, insular and isolated. But, families can be creatively expansive in their embrace—bringing energy and nourishment to the broader community. We read in Psalm 62 that God places the lonely in families. We are hard wired to long for the intimate family place of knowing and being known.

According to the North American secularized mindset, the various arenas of life are meant to function independently of one another. Thus, we become adept at juggling work, school, family, and church. If we juggle well, we might even have a little extra time to look about and ask, like Mr. Rogers, “Who are the people in my neighborhood?” But all this juggling is tiring especially if we are attempting to juggle both family and mission.

But what if, as followers of Jesus, we took a hard look at the kind of life that began to percolate back there in Jerusalem, after Pentecost? The believers first met in homes, which were themselves beehives of vocational activity—complexly interconnected households, rather than the nuclear family enclave from the world that we tend to envision. These extended families found themselves extending family to others. It is this oikos—Greek for household—structure which housed the phenomenal growth of the church in the centuries up until Constantine.

We have a steep learning curve ahead of us in trying to reclaim what has been lost through our acquiescence to secular culture. Some of us have the hard work of giving back to God what has become an idol. Others will face the hard work of reclaiming the hope of being part of a healthy family, biological or otherwise. My husband Skip and I believe that God will pour his life through us in dynamic ways as we take steps to integrate our family lives into the family life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit—directing our energies into the business enterprise of that family—the very mission of God!

One place where we see deep desire for this kind of integration family life with God’s mission is in a “family on mission” huddle that we host in our home every other Tuesday morning. Huddles are accountable learning communities in which we focus on giving an account for what we are hearing from God and how we are taking steps forward in obedience. This particular huddle includes husbands and wives representing five different families. Toddlers trip over toys on the floor, and an older child or two bend over home school books nearby. There, with our tea and toast, we experience a safe place to process, encourage and pray together.

There have been some beautiful outworkings from the deep stirrings within these five families, each a signpost of hope that the integration of family and mission is possible. One family offers a weekday morning Lectio Divina time at their house, followed by a simple breakfast. Another family makes it a priority to build relationships with both parents and children in their ethnically diverse neighborhood, often offering special events and regularly visiting home to home. Another family hosts family-friendly tours to their farm and facilitates a monthly mom’s support group for other young mothers eager for connection.

For each of these families, it is not a matter of doing more within the frustrating constraints of time and energy. It is a matter of recognizing that God is brilliant enough to bring the pieces of our lives together for his purposes. Then we have the joy of watching him work with what we offer!
Carol Tobin is Asia Regional Director and Mission Advocate for VMMissions.

Filed in: All posts, Transforming


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