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What is Family on Mission? An Introduction

Family on Mission is a concept that is foundational to making disciple makers. What does it mean? How do we define family? How do we then invite that family to join us on mission? How does this concept inform the tools we employ and the metrics we use to gauge success?

Let's start by talking about the word Family. Today the word family is used very broadly. We can talk about our church family. We can talk about our relatives, or our natural family. We can talk about our immediate "nuclear" family. We can listen to CEO's refer to a company family... For our purposes we want to use family based on the greek word "oikos". Oikos has been translated into the english word "household."

You may think about how Jesus, early in the Gospel of Mark, calls his disciples next to the sea of Galilee. They leave their fishing nets and follow Jesus to the synagogue in Capernaum. From the synagogue they go to the home of Simon (Peter). At Peter's home, we see Jesus heal Peter's mother in law, and start ministering to the whole community. Jesus quickly became integrated into Peter's actual life. All of Peter's household (oikos), his family, friends, neighbors, and community all came into contact with Jesus. This is how we are using the word family.

Family is our relational network. It often includes our immediate family, our blood relatives, but it is not limited to just that. Our family is simply the people closest to us. The people you rely on when you are weak, or need help. The people who call you when they need help. The people you invite over when you want someone to hang out with. This is your family; your oikos.

So now lets talk about mission. What is it that God has called us to do? What is our/your mission? We all know verses like the great commission, that tell us:

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matt 28:18-20

and the great commandment

"Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’" Matt 22:37-39

We must realize that Jesus did not say these things to one person. He said them to a group of people. He gave this meaningful and powerful instruction to his "family on mission." This group was the collection of his best friends and family. They literally represented 3 years of Jesus' ministry investment. When Jesus did ministry it was not apart from his family. His family was his mission, and was on mission with him.

We get into trouble when we separate these two important parts of our existence as Christ followers. We, to often, have to choose to spend time with our family or spend time on mission. Jesus did not have make that choice. They were one and the same. Jesus' "family on mission" was his group of disciples and followers.

The first step in creating your family on mission is finding who in your natural relationships (friends and/or relatives) wants to participate in the mission that God is calling you to. This life of following Jesus is never meant to be lived in isolation or by ourselves. That is why so much of the New Testament is focused on building communities of faith (church planting), and unity of the believers, and maturity in leaders. All of these are group dynamics that indicate that Jesus and his followers anticipated that future generations of Christians would maintain and start new communities to engage in HIS mission together.

There is an old African proverb that says, "If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together." As we begin to dream about how God can use us to bring new communities of faith together, we must first form our family on mission. Who are the people that God has already put around us that will partner, encourage, care for, and commit to pursuing God's Mission together?

Answering that question will help you find your "Family on Mission!"

For last week's post introducing the 4 Fields click here: Family on Mission & the 4 Fields

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