Occasionally, when the subject of missional living comes up during a conversation with a young parent, I will hear something like this:
One way you can be “missional” is to raise good children. Thats what I’m doing.
The idea is that being a responsible parent and instilling the right attitudes and behaviors in your child is an important spiritual responsiblity. Thus, “missionality” is recharacterized as going about the critical task of child rearing without regard to the reaching out to the marginalized in society.
But it seems to me that this recharacterization does a serious disservice to our children.
As a parent, my job is to raise my children to be disciples of Jesus, and Jesus’ life was about reaching out into the margins of society. How will my children ever learn to imitate Jesus in this way if they (a) never see their parents doing it and (b) are never given opportunities to learn how to do it themselves?
Rather than serving as a free pass for avoiding the marginalized, the responsiblities of parenthood ought to be urging us toward greater commitment to serving those who are weak and powerless in our communities.