Family missions can take on a number of variations, mainly falling into two categories – either the parental mission of discipling children toward Christ or going on a evangelistic/service missions trip together as a family. Both are right and good, but they are not the only ways a family can be missional. Home discipleship being an inward focus and mission trips being an outreach focus, I would like to ask you to consider a combination of the two mentioned, the invitational focus of Spiritual Adoption.
Maybe you have encountered a young person who is asking all the right questions about who God is, what this life is all about, why is everything broken, who can fix it, and who they are supposed to be… it seems that they are genuinely seeking the truth about God but they lack a church, they lack a Bible of their own, and they lack someone to teach and show them the love of God. Though they seem ripe for salvation and maturation there lack of a spiritual leader hinders them their growth.
This is where Spiritual Adoption comes into play. Spiritual Adoption is when a family brings someone into their home life so they would know Christ (John 17:3). These spiritual children, so to say, do both big and small home life with the family: they go to church as the family, they go on vacation as a the family, they share meals as the family, they serve others as the family, they go to the zoo or a Giants playoff game or the movies as the family, but most importantly they talk through and apply the gospel together as the family. Scripture shows us the spiritual benefit of this in two ways:
The making of disciples – We see a picture of this in Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” Paul goes on to detail how they shared their lives with the Thessalonians, by the gentleness of a mother and the instruction of a father. Paul, Silas, and Timothy acted as spiritual parents to the people of Thessalonica. To what end? Thessalonians 2:12 says so they people would be called by God into His kingdom and know how to live accordingly. Spiritual adoption gives the love and instruction of the Lord to those who would otherwise miss out on it.
The maturing of disciples – We see Paul’s post-salvation efforts with Timothy in Acts 16 and 2 Timothy 1:5-6. Timothy, a young convert, grew up with a faithful grandmother and mother but no father. Paul stands in that gap by spiritually fathering Timothy toward maturity in Christ. Though Timothy had come to Christ he needed someone to help Him mature in Christ. Paul does this through shoulder-to-shoulder time, bringing Timothy with him on his journeys, which, going full-circles, brings them to Thessalonica where they minister together in the fledgling church.
I’ve mentioned it before, but adoption is the picture of the gospel. For church families to invite those outside of the Church into their families, that operate like mini-churches, they can bring those outside God’s kingdom into His Kingdom.