A few weeks ago, we were getting back from Tijuana, Mexico and our church’s family mission trip. Those words don’t always go together–“family” and “mission trip.” But our church is committed to ministry that is done with the entire family, which I love and which also makes me feel like we are slightly crazy. Crazy because we had children from six months of age to fourteen on this trip–and between the three Antioch churches that connected together to serve our sister church in Tijuana, there were nearly 100 of us in Tijuana. With lots and lots of small kids running around in a foreign city, in a place where most of us don’t speak the language, there was bound to be some chaos. Some kids got sick, some kids got really tired, some kids got really cranky (let’s be honest: a lot of us adults got really cranky).
And that, I found, is ok. Church is for the whole family, not just those who are old enough to sit quietly or travel well or eat whatever is put in front of them. Being on mission–serving others and sharing the Gospel and intentionally seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus in a place where you don’t know your way around town–this is not just for people who are old enough to tie their own shoes and talk about faith competently and theologically.
Church is for the whole family. Which means that being on mission is for the whole family. Which means that it is worth it to take my one-year old on a trip she will not remember to a nation where we know no one and share the Gospel with people in a language we barely speak. Because we are a family. And I refuse to keep my child out of church and out of doing what the church does until she is “old enough.”
Was it challenging and difficult at times? Yes. Was it fun and exciting and rewarding at times, too? Yes.
I want church and ministry and mission to be so woven into the fabric of our life as a family that it is Ella’s baseline for normal. And so she does church with us now. We show up every Sunday for service, even when it interrupts her nap. She comes to small group and plays with the college kids on Tuesday nights. She dances while Mom and Dad play worship music in the house. She listens while Daddy practices his sermons. And she comes with us when we go on mission trips.
And she is learning a lot of things, even now, that she doesn’t have words for. And it is worth it. Because He is worth it.
(And, praise God for the Ergo. And for squeezie pouches that make it through customs. Amen.)