Home Uncategorized Evangelism–Count the Costs

Evangelism–Count the Costs

by Kelly Crawford

(This post probably needs a few qualifiers; but for the sake of length, I let it be what it is.  So many directions it could go, I hope you hear my heart.)

She said “we felt the Lord wanted us to stop after two children to focus on our ministry”.

I listened to her sincerest explanation of the importance of their ministry and how more children would have hindered the work to which they had given their lives to.  It was noble work.  But silently I shuddered at the tragic irony of her statement–the irony she didn’t even know.

Because for years, all the while this ministry was in full swing, right under their  noses, this couple’s little girl, now grown, had disclosed to me her sexual abuse while they were preoccupied.

Although this scenario may be more the exception than the rule, it happens more than parents are aware.  But even in milder situations, often children are “sacrificed” on the altar of ministry by the most well-meaning of parents because our idea of evangelism is misguided.

Evangelism that costs your children is not evangelism, no matter how sincere the intent.  And may I point out that there are 2 ways of looking at that statement.  The parents I described  lost children in two ways; they closed the womb and then allowed their ministry to keep them from their job of “guarding” the home, which includes the physical, spiritual and emotional well-being of their children.

(“All’s well that ends well” should NOT be our mantra.)

“For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul (or his children’s)?” Mark 8:36

And please don’t think I’m trying to paint a picture of fear and suspicion–that is not my intent.  My intent is a very real one, to cause us to make sure that in our zeal for evangelizing the lost we don’t lose those souls entrusted to us.  Do we remember?

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” 1 Peter 5:8

The Great Commission is so simple!  I’ve said it before, but Godly families just following the natural biological design and being faithful to disciple their own children would  turn out more missionaries  than sending folks to training school all day long.  When churches start focusing on families, urging them to bring up children passionate about Him, passionate about His Word, living out love every day, in every way–that’s when we’ll see a culture turned upside down.

As it is, the church is just  trying to keep its own marriages and homes together–how can it offer the Bread of Life to others?  We’ve got to get our own oxygen masks (i.e. healthy families) on first if we intend to point others to life.

Secondly, evangelism is disciple-making.  Disciple-making only happens in the context of relationships.  Relationships are best built in a natural setting of home life and family outreach.

I hesitate to share this, and PLEASE don’t assume any boasting on my part, but sometimes people like to see how “life evangelism” looks.  We have been really praying lately to use our opportunities.

Our family runs a wedding business in our home.  Several weekends a month we host an entire wedding, rehearsal and reception here.  Many who come here are not Christians.  “How do you know that, Kelly?”  I don’t always, but a fruit tree is usually pretty easy to identify.  One bride mentioned her dilemma of no one to marry them, then suggested the idea of her homosexual/”pagan worshiping” (??) hair dresser who had his license, but decided he’d be too busy doing the hair and makeup.  AND, in a crowd of 150, chances are pretty good that a large number of them may not be believers.  (Also, the fact that they are getting married here often results because they do not belong to a church.)  Many of the brides are co-habitating and by biblical definition, that’s a sign of a non-believer.  (If you disagree with that, no need to comment–it’s a biblical conclusion.)

I say all that to say, yes, we “mingle with the world” despite some accusations that I am “afraid” of sin and that I isolate my children from it.  Not true on any level.

The Lord has given us so many opportunities to share, in a casual way, “where our hope comes from”.  Our large family naturally sparks conversation, and they are usually asking about the children’s behavior, etc.  It’s not a matter of boasting or “look at us”, it’s a matter of people who live in darkness recognizing light–something only Christ can create.  And that is what He meant, I think, when he said to “let your light so shine before men”.

I know not everyone has the advantage of having so many different people into their home, but simple hospitality creates the same opportunities.

While there’s nothing wrong with handing out tracts, or organizing revivals or any method itself, we need to concentrate on the natural outworking of Christ in our lives as the primary means of preaching the gospel.

Just my two cents (I know, I have a really long two cents 😉

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Petra September 28, 2009 - 1:15 am

I absolutely agree with you. We have seen it ourselves; children are being sacrificed for ministry. Keep shining your light, it does attract the lost and mislead and then you have an opportunity to share the full Gospel.

KB September 28, 2009 - 1:19 am

Great points, Kelly.
A friend of mine told me quite a few horror stories about growing up in the sort of family you describe. Needless to say, it’s been tough going, but she’s making it through. I’m so glad that God gives us each other to bear one another’s burdens.

I hope and pray this family is in a position to begin the healing process, too. There truly is so much a stake.

Ann September 28, 2009 - 1:22 am

Kelly, have you ever read ‘ Man of Vision’ the story of Bob Pierce the founder of World Vision, as told by his daughter Marilee Pierce Dunker?
It is a heartbreaking story of the price his family paid. His daughter describes him as a man caught up in the ‘evangelical syndrome’ – the belief that a man can only serve God to the fullest if he is willing to put ministry before family. She says her father would say ‘I’ve made an agreement with God that I’ll take care of his little helpless lambs overseas if He’ll take care of mine at home.’ The chapter ends with this statement, ‘It sounded sensible enough, and Daddy sincerely believed it was right. Unfortunately, future events would prove that this was Daddy’s agreement, not God’s.’
I know others would say but I’m not a mass evangelist, I don’t spend that much time away from my family but I believe there are many ways in which we can sacrifice our family – just the busyness of everyday life and ‘church ministry'( so many meetings!) can rob us of opportunities to sow into the lives of our children but neither should we neglect evangelism. I loved what you said about evangelism being a natural outworking of Christ in our lives. Imagine if every Christian grasped this! I do think we overlook ‘family lifestyle’ evangelism, a God honouring family that serves together and ministers to others, whether through a home business such as yours or simply through good old fashioned hospitality is powerful, especially in today’s society which is characterized by dysfunctional, fragmented families. People are crying out for answers, they want to know how to earn the respect of their teens, they desperately desire wonderful times together, they want rid of conflict in the home. Just to spend time with a family where the atmosphere in the home is one of love and acceptance or to observe a family out and about in the community that is bearing fruit – showing kindness, being helpful, speaking to each other gracefully. It ministers to me and I know it impacts others.

Erica September 28, 2009 - 7:06 am

About 2 months ago I spoke with a girl, who is 27 which is my age. She isn’t married or anything yet. And she told me that she isn’t sure that she wants to “sacrifice” 9 months of being pregnant and 5 years of taking care of a child when she could be doing work for the Lord. I was so grieved to hear her say that. I have 4 children myself. I tried to explain to her the deception regarding children that is in the church, but she insisted that she is not deceived. It’s just so sad that some people have this mindset.

Diane September 28, 2009 - 7:20 am

Kelly, I have liked and enjoyed many of your posts… but this one I just really *love.* We believers are quick to notice those in the world putting their own priorities before the Lord, but just as quick to excuse ourselves (and even other believers) who are doing the exact same thing. Of course us believers know how to cloak our self-will in more “Godly” language, ie “it’s all for the sake of ministry.” Often if we are starkly realistic with ourselves, we realize that our choices are for nothing more worthy than the elevation of ourselves, our own desire to enrich our own lives, our *pride.* How we deceive ourselves! And how we need to go back again and again and again to the Word of God.

Blessings to you and yours today, my dear♥

wordwarrior September 28, 2009 - 8:11 am

Thank you Diane…well said. There are so many more things that could be said on the topic–maybe another post later 😉

Margaret September 28, 2009 - 8:27 am

This is such a wonderful post. I think one of the great tragedies of Western-style “ministry” is that so many families were unnecessarily sacrificed. I mean seriously, the Bible is very clear that if you don’t want to be ‘bothered’ by a wife and children, you simply do not get married, and focus wholly on your ministry. But when you do get married, you have just obligated yourself to protect and provide for the family God allowed you to have.

The founder of Compassion International is another one who has a heartbreaking story about a childhood spent mostly in boarding schools, being told not to write anything bad home to his parents because if he distracted them with his problems, that would mean little African children would burn in hell because he wasn’t a good enough Christian boy. Talk about manipulative and spiritually abusive. This carried over into the lives of native evangelists as well. My husband was brought to a mission boarding school at age 6, away from his family and out of his evangelist father’s way, because that was just the way things were done. He loves and respects his parents, and is grateful now for the education, but there is a deep hurt in him even now, and as a father he has kind of been on his own trying to figure out how to relate to his children, having missed out on several years of being with his own father.

We also know someone who got married, but then got himself sterilized (over the protests of his wife) because he felt that having children would distract him from his Bible translation work. 🙁

Lisa in ND September 28, 2009 - 8:41 am

I think that was a wonderful post, and that you have found a truly glorifying ministry in your wedding business.

Word Warrior September 28, 2009 - 8:55 am


I don’t know if it was the same man (I’m sure there are many stories) but I recently heard the adult testimony, through heart-wrenching tears, of a man who was abused in the missionary boarding school he grew up in. They tried to silence the children by further abuse and threats similar to the ones you mentioned.

Again, those these seem extreme, I think there are many forms and degrees of this kind due to the misinformation regarding the urgency of “evangelizing at any cost” and just the smaller emphasis placed on discipling the children in your home.

Word Warrior September 28, 2009 - 8:59 am

Another thing I didn’t mention…though I’m not a pragmatist, we still seem to look at “what works” as a measure of success.

Based on that alone, can we agree that with all the emphasis on evangelism, all the new programs and new outreach and new youth groups, we are NOT seeing true Christianity blaze across the culture as it should be if we compared “effort” to outcome?

Again I quote Einstein: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Ashley September 28, 2009 - 9:01 am

If you think that is bad, just think of the toll that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are having on families. It is common sense that a father or mother being gone for over a year or more at a time is going to negatively effect children. Then add to that repeated deployments. The add to that some are in harms way. Not a recipe for success.

But think about what type of people were strongly supporting the war. It really wasn’t the “non-believers” was it? No, it was the the conservative Christians. Ironic isn’t it, the very people that are pro-traditional family supported something that was harmful to families?

elizabeth September 28, 2009 - 9:44 am

Ashley – don’t believe everything you hear on the news LOL. I am a “conservative Christian” but I strongly oppose the wars and was not a fan of Bush from the very beginning. Politics and religion do not mix and politicians hit on hot-button issues to draw people to their side. Example – I am vehemently opposed to abortion but at the same time believe we have an obligation to the poor – as Jesus’ taught.

Kelly, I loved this post. I know many will disagree but I believe we are more powerful by example. How many evangelists and ministers have done “the walk of shame” and basically discredited all they spoke for? I am a sinner and cannot preach to others. But I have strengths God has given me, and when people are drawn to me, I can share what the Lord has done for me. In college I (already a believer) was turned off majorly by some of the campus crusade groups who were just way too pushy, wanted to read the bible with you, etc. Meanwhile they would be off drinking, not doing their best in school, etc. Not much of a statement. Of course this is not everyone, but a lot of the people that I came in contact with.

Charity September 28, 2009 - 10:15 am

Kelly, I too really liked and enjoyed this post. God has definitely given you a great gift to write and communicate in such an excellent way.

Two years ago this fall, we were at a small, home-Bible study. The couple leading the study had invited their sister and her husband to lead the study that night. This guest-couple had two small children and were leaving within a few weeks to head oversees to the mission field. The lady asked to hold our newborn daughter and was commenting on how sweet small babies are, and things of that sort, then she says “She’s escpecially sweet because she’s yours. I’m so glad I’m done with the ‘baby making thing’. I had my tubes tied after our second one was born…how many are ya’ll going to have? (This was our second.) We can’t afford and don’t have time for any more…were headed for the mission field, you know.” My husband and I left that night scratching our heads. It seems like such an oxymoron when people think and say things like this. It’s so “honorable” in the Christian/church circle for a couple to head oversees or what-have-you to have a ministry in the children’s home/orphanage, (not saying that anyone shouldn’t or that it’s wrong by any means) but if that same couple were to stay home and have several children then they’re looked down on and deemed crazy. I think this whole concept is wrong and surely it breaks God’s heart.

Kelly L September 28, 2009 - 10:34 am

This is a perfect post. Before my husband or I do anything at church, we ask God. If He says yes, we do it with our daughter. Whether it is serving dinner, helping in the kitchen, or helping with children. We have made it clear that if we help, she is with us and they have accepted that. It is important to put God’s will first, not just God (ie. the church/His people) first. It is a fine line distinction, but is there nonetheless.

You said, “I am a sinner and cannot preach to others.” That is a lie only an enemy would want you to believe. You were a sinner until Christ came in. While you still sin, that is not your identity or Christ died for nothing. You are a child of God, Co-Heir with Christ, A New Creature, Redeemed. I could go on and on as God did in the Bible. I know you said you can share what the Lord has done in you…that is preaching. Preaching the good news. This is a popular saying in Christianity, quoting Paul. But that was not His identity, nor is it yours. Even released felons call themselves ex-felons and they were released by their own time. How much more those of us who were released by the blood of Christ! I’m not trying to start anything, but wanted you to see who you really are in Christ, not who you were without Him.

Nurse Bee September 28, 2009 - 11:27 am

Just curious, in your denomination (or whatever you choose to call it), do you support missionaries and/or outreach programs? And how is an indvidual believer welcomed in when there is such strong emphasis on family life?

Word Warrior September 28, 2009 - 11:56 am

Nurse Bee,

Yes, we are heavy supporters of missionary work, and a few in our church have themselves been involved in overseas and local missions–we emphasize ministering as a family though–not a missionary boarding school for children.

We don’t set up “outreach programs”…besides encouraging the hospitality sort of evangelizing I mentioned, we take advantage of outreach opportunities already around us.

There are two specific ones our church is involved in right now…one is a home for unwed mothers during their pregnancy. We collect needed items for them, and volunteer to do Bible studies there and a number of other needed functions. We also buy Christmas gifts and deliver them to the girls there every year.

Then, we open our church to a neuro-development specialist who meets with local families to treat their children (kind of complicated). Families from our church volunteer to meet the families seeking treatment, serve refreshments and just talk with them during this time–a ministry that has proven very needed as many of the families are scared and desperate with the problems their children are having.

Because our church doesn’t consume family time with programs and such, and because there is a spirit of true service and outreach, so many of the families are able to sit with sick ones around them, help with service projects for neighbors, provide meals for those who need them, etc. It’s a beautiful thing to see evangelism is the setting of real life.

Individuals are still seen in the context of a family. We have several widows in our church that we have “brought in” to be a part of our family, and we have several unmarried singles who are still part of their family until they marry. If you are single, you still have a family in the body of Christ. That’s why Paul addressed his helpers as “brothers, sisters and sons”.

Margaret September 28, 2009 - 11:58 am

Ashley, not all of us think that a career in military is ideal.

However, even military service is different from a lifelong “career” ministry. Combat service doesn’t last forever, and families usually can live on or near base where the serving spouse is, even if not in their own country. They may move around a lot, but much of the time, it is still Daddy going to work in the morning and coming home pretty regularly.

Furthermore, while I don’t think military lifestyle is ideal for most families, I do recognize it as a function of a secular state. *Somebody* has to take part in the military(unless you prefer anarchy and a defenseless nation), and you can’t take a wife and children with you to the front line.

What is shameful is that people who claim to be ministering for the Lord neglect their families when they *can* take them along, and assume that a normal, functional family life hinders God’s work. Or assume that having children at all will hold God back in some way. In the military, no, you can’t have family devotions, family meals, family ministry, on the battle front. On the spiritual battle front, though, it is possible, and important, and neglecting it for “more important” ministry work is a shame to the ones doing the ministry.

Margaret September 28, 2009 - 11:58 am

did my last comment get lost? 🙁

Margaret September 28, 2009 - 11:59 am

oops, no it didn’t! I just wasn’t patient.

Mary R September 28, 2009 - 12:55 pm

This is so true !.I worked witha women whose family was into “ministry”. They had Bible studies two times a week at their home ,fed people frequently, visited the prisons every Saturday and had who knows who spend the night.{strangers etc. They lived in Nevada so there was a lot of strange people !} She actually came from a big family{6 children} and was the youngest.She said, “My mom and dad had time for anyone ,but us children. I don’t believe in a God that wants that.” She also had been sexually abused by various people her family was “helping”. She spent nights scared to sleep because one of these people might “visit”. Her parents dissmissed their childrens complaints about these people and were told to “love” them.

Amy Jo September 28, 2009 - 1:33 pm

Matthew 10:32-39
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.'”Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Luke 14:26
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

I recognize the overwhelming importance of family in God’s economy. BUT, note this point: in the NT, the spread of Christianity was NOT demonstrated through covenant families (although I am sure that this did happen). The spread of the GOSPEL message was through men and women who abondoned EVERYTHING — including family — for the purpose of the Gospel. And, like it or not, God commended this. Paul, by nature of being the “level” of Jewish leader that he was would have been required by law to have been married. However, his wife, nor possible children, were ever mentioned as a factor in his ministry. In fact, from all we can gather from his letters, he had no contact with either — at least not to any great extent.

The early Christians *allowed* their children to be thrown to lions in the rings of Rome becuase they would not renounce their faith; they were burned to death, brutalized, and traumatized — CHILDREN. Children — sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel. Were these parents neglegent? Did they not love their children? Not love God? Not obey God by raising up their children to love Him and instead allowed them to be killed before they were ever old enough to minister themselves?

I, personally, cannot fathom offering my child for such a price as this for the Gospel, but these Christians did. Were they wrong? The stories of chidlren who are abused during the minsitry of their parents grieves me beyond words. I cannot even begin to imagine such a horror. But, where does the sovereignty of God reign in these situations?

I’m not saying that everyone is called to this type of *radical* service to the Gosepl, but biblically, you cannot deny that if it suits the purpose of God, we must be willing to deny all — even family — for the sake of the Gospel.

My point is not necesarrily to dissent. However, this “issue” is simply not as cut and dry as it is being made out.

Ashley September 28, 2009 - 1:46 pm

“don’t believe everything you hear on the news LOL.”

They don’t say things like that on the news. I agree that not all Christians support the war. But most did at one time.

“families usually can live on or near base where the serving spouse is, even if not in their own country. They may move around a lot, but much of the time, it is still Daddy going to work in the morning and coming home pretty regularly.”

But that is not what happens. Daddy or Mommy or both are gone MORE than 50% of time when you factor in deployments and training. So maybeyou have a “regular” life for a year then it is 18 months of absent parents. Mommy and/or Daddy could also be called to fight at a momments notice. Is that stable? That is the reality.

Leslie Viles September 28, 2009 - 1:47 pm

Amy Jo,

I may not have taken your point the way you intended it. I do not think that the early Christians who would not renounce their faith in order to save their children from death are the same as modern day Christians who sacrifice their children because they are either to lazy to protect them or to caught up in “their ministry” (note their ministry, not God’s)

I would hope that I would love Jesus more than my children. I know this is hard, but if I love my family more then I am making them an idol. On the other side of the coin, Jesus said that what we do the least of these we do to Him. I do not believe he would condone us allowing our children to be molested because we don’t want to take precautions with the people we minister to.

i know i am a little scattered today…sorry.

Word Warrior September 28, 2009 - 1:48 pm

Amy Jo,

I’ve pondered these verses and thoughts before…my take on it is this: first, the verses about “hating father or mother” was spoken in a culture where a Jew (and possibly other religions? I don’t know much…) would be disowned from his family for leaving his religion. Jesus was saying, “you must choose Me or them”.

Then, I don’t think early Christians “allowed” their children to be killed; during that time of tremendous persecution, they were dragged to be killed–forced, and often killing children in front of their parents was part of the torture. Still, the parents kept their faith because of the verse Jesus spoke–“if I am forced to choose” is the issue here, but these aren’t arguments for willingly neglecting your children to follow Christ in any way.

Keep in mind…

“It is impossible but that offenses will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.”

Ashley September 28, 2009 - 1:50 pm

“*Somebody* has to take part in the military”

A military should be protecting a country’s borders- not going on poltical missions. America’s military should be local groups that defend our homeland- not occupy other places. If you read, you will find that the founding fathers wanted this as well.

Kris September 28, 2009 - 2:43 pm

“we emphasize ministering as a family”. That’s the whole point! And you articulated that beautifully…love the post today! God bless you and your family as you seek to serve Him in all that you do.

kimberly September 28, 2009 - 2:49 pm

In my opinion the church isn’t any less “worldly” than the world. There is just as much contracepting, and sterilization among”believers” as “non-believers” in fact, some of the most shocking and meanest comments, i have ever received about the size of my family, and nasty snide comments on my sex life, were from so-called church going people.
It is only by Gods’ grace that after 9 children, and 3 miscarriages, we still live our marriage open to life. We have been called to the mission field, it is our home

brandy September 28, 2009 - 3:08 pm

I’ve seen SO MUCH of this first hand. It’s what led us away from our last church and it’s belief system and structure. I think so many denominations or ways of “doing church and religion” are guilty of this line of thought and it IS so ironic, that I just don’t get how they keep on with this line of thinking when the proof is in the pudding (or the kids.)

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe September 28, 2009 - 3:10 pm

The boarding school for missionaries’ children sounds horrible, and I too have heard many stories of abuse. Putting children in boarding schools was the old-fashioned way that missionaries did it. I don’t know how much it is done any more. I think years ago, the mission field was considered dangerous for children, due to lack of sanitary conditions, etc., so they left them behind. Nowadays, the whole family seems to go on the mission field together. Glad that is the way it is most of the time now.

Possibly those people should not have gotten married if they had to sterilize themselves or leave children behind? I wonder if they were pressured to leave their children behind?

My husband was once credentialled in a denomination (a very well-known denomination) that made 3 children the cutoff for going on the mission field. Some missionary friends of ours didn’t believe in birth control and had 5 children. After #4, the mission board said, well ok, but than after child #5, the family was pulled from the mission field. Sometimes missions boards mandate these things, which shouldn’t be.

We are in ministry and many times churches put impossible demands on their pastors, taking up all their family time, (or the pastor is career-obsessed).

I’m thankful we didn’t have churches like that to pastor. The people we have pastored never took time away from our family, thank God, and my husband was never career-obsessed, but was happy to spend time with us.

(Actually, the church we started in our home years ago started being demanding like that, but we left that church before very long, for that and other reasons, and haven’t had one like that since.)

We have had very gracious people in that regard.

Rachel September 28, 2009 - 3:13 pm

It’s a question of balance – God gives us families, and evangelism can happen in the most natural of ways, just through living a faithful life with our families, doing our day to day business, much as you describe.

Also, children can be involved with evangelism alongside their parents. My husband’s family are very involved in open-air street evangelism, and also in beach missions. He would stand with his parents whilst his father preached the gospel nearly every week from a very young age. He says that growing up that way, with his parents, observing their passion for the gospel, played a major role in his own conversion – if my parents care enough to take me out to town on a freezing January day, just to share the gospel, he thought, then it must be something of vital importance.

I think the problem is, that people seperate out the 2 things, creating an either/or dichotomy. So, you have children who are left in missionary boarding schools whilst their parents go off to evaneglise lost tribes. You have people who don’t have children because they want to share the gospel. You can share the good news alongside your children – you don’t have to leave them/or not have children, in order to serve the Lord in this way.

“Troubled Journey” by Faith Cook, is a really interesting book, sort of on this topic. her parents were missionaries and she and her younger brother were left for years at a time in missionary boarding schools. They didn’t see their parents for years, and were treated quite badly in these schools. It’s an interesting read. She is very gracious about her parents, and points out what a shame it was that they felt that they had to leave the children God had given them to others to bring up in order to serve him. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Troubled-Journey-Missionary-Childhood-War-Torn/dp/0851518788

Rachel September 28, 2009 - 3:26 pm

Also, I have to say – it isn’t an either/or in terms of methods of evangelism. Of course, we should minister in our everyday lives, with the people we come across. We are ambassadors for Christ wherever we go.

However, I also believe that we need to be going out and spreading the gospel as well, in addition to just the people we come across in our everyday business – there are many people in our secular society who never come into contact with true christians in their everyday lives. These people need Christ too – which, in my opinion (and I’m a bit biased, because I’m involved in this sort of work) is where open-air/street evangelism comes in. It’s what our Lord did, it’s what the Apostles did. It’s what sparked many revivals – George Whitefield, the Wesleys, Christmas Evans, CH Spurgeon all preached outside to passersby in the street. In fact, Spuregon famously said that a man who hasn’t managed to capture a crowd in the open air, shouldn’t be allowed to preach to captive audiences inside a church 😉

Rachel September 28, 2009 - 3:28 pm

Not sure if my comments have been swallowed up, and I should try again?

Word Warrior September 28, 2009 - 3:40 pm


“You can share the good news alongside your children – you don’t have to leave them/or not have children, in order to serve the Lord in this way.”

Totally agreed. One of those qualifications I should have made…please don’t think I’m saying the mission field isn’t an appropriate ministry…we would love to minister in a foreign country when we are in a season to do so as a family.

I’m simply trying to address the unbalanced view of evangelism and point out that the family is itself a mission field first; and unless that is realized, our efforts elsewhere are often less potent at best, and “offensive” to our children at worst.

Word Warrior September 28, 2009 - 3:41 pm

One more thing…I’m also not suggesting that an occasional trip to the mission field without family is bad.

Taunya September 28, 2009 - 4:39 pm

-Amy Jo

I thought about the verses you referenced when reading this post. While I agree with the heart of what Kelly has written in this post I must admit that I believe that some of the teaching coming out of a small segment of the homeschooling community concerning family is a bit over the top.

The idea that evangelism is mainly through families is not supported in Scripture. That said, sacrificing your family for the sake of your “ministry” by putting children in boarding school or becoming emotionally or physically unavailable to them is also not supported.

As in so many things I believe the truth lies in between and the Christian must resist the temptation to either lift family up to almost the exclusion of all else, or to disregard family in favor of evangelism. These are both man made extremes that should be avoided by the Bible believing Christian.

I am a homeschool mother in my ninth year of homeschooling, my family is extremely important to me but I see a trend among certain groups that is troubling. Family worship is what I would call it. I can not say that Kelly and her family are guilty of this but I will say that we should all watch ourselves and be careful not to elevate that which we love to higher than the Bible states it should be.

Go to the Word and none other for your guidance!

Jasmine September 28, 2009 - 8:22 pm

Great post, Mrs. Kelly ~thank you for sharing! 🙂

Amy Jo September 28, 2009 - 11:45 pm

“modern day Christians who sacrifice their children because they are either to lazy to protect them or to caught up in “their ministry” (note their ministry, not God’s”

This would be an inexcusable act. And, I do know that there are times that this occurs. Again, it beyond grieves my heart. Deliberately neglecting your children in the name of ministry…well, God will hold accountable those who do this. Have mercy on them, as Kelly stated in the Scripture from Matthew 18.

As I write that, however, I am thinking of “ministries” that many families mantle upon themselves that burden and destroy their children that don’t necissarily carry the name “evangelism” but would fall under legalism — or should I write LEGALISM. (I know I am somewhat chaing a rabbit here…but it ran past…)I guess the point is: any family can be guilty of harming their children in the name of a “ministry” that they have deemed is their families “platform.” I could list here…but I’m sure you all have your own ideas. And frankly, the number of children scarred from these families is probably far greater than those abused in missionary boarding schools.

So, NO child should be neglegently sacrificed at the cost of a parent’s self-induced and proclaimed “ministry.” Be it evangelism or….any other ministry platform.

ycw September 29, 2009 - 8:10 am

Another thing you didn’t really bring up, but is certainly related….

How arrogant for someone to think that the work they could do for Christ is more important than the work that anyone else could do for Christ. And isn’t that what those who want only two children so that they can “do ministry” are saying? My work is so important that I will stop God from using me in other ways (the opening and closing of the womb, the Scripture is clear, comes from God). Not only that, but their ministry is even more important than their children’s ministries would be.

If a family chooses to have only two children due to ministry, but God would have given them 8 had they not prevented it, what good might those extra 6 children have done for Christ? The assumption is that the ministry of that one couple is more than the ministry of those 6 people who will not exist because of their actions, and all of their descendants.

I also agree with what was said about remaining single for the ministry. That was God’s plan–not that men and women would marry and make themselves barren, but that many would remain single to devote themselves fully to His will. And I think that the people who are unwilling that their children should remain single for Christ, and unwilling that their children should go abroad and do missions, and unwilling that they should never have grandchildren, are exactly the same Christians that felt it necessary to limit themselves to only one or two children (especially only one). It is the families with only one or two children that feel the need for their children to excel in everything (sports, academics, ministry, socially), while those in with large families are freer to let their children live to their own strengths and callings. At least, that’s the way it seems to me. So many children are pressured not to stay single for ministry because of their parents’ desires–it may usually be at least in part a jest but how many have heard a mother say “When are you going to get married and give me grandchildren?”

Taunya September 29, 2009 - 11:27 am


I have a question for you. I don’t mean to be snarky, I am asking you honestly as one Christian to another for you to answer me honestly. How many familiies have you personally met that stated they were limiting the number of children they have to two for the ministry?

I ask because they way your comment came across it seemed as if this is a huge number of people or at least a good amount. I am a forty-two year old conservative Christian homeschooling mother who has met MANY other Christians. I have seen many Christian families with two or fewer children but I can not think of any who stated the reason for their small families was due to their ministry work. In fact I do not ask them why they have the number of children they do any more than I ask a large family why they have so many or when they will stop. As far as I am concerned Christian families are guided by the Lord. Their choices then are between themselves and their Savior. I trust that if they are in error in any way the Holy Spirit will convict them and I neither ask them to explain their choices to me nor assume that I know the reason they have chosen to have the number of children they have, whether that number is small or large.

In fact my daughter has two good friends in our church both girls are only children and both families are strong Christian families. These girls have been friends of my daughter for seven years and I have never once asked their parents why they have had only one. I do know that one mother has had major health concerns since she was a teen but I do not know for a fact that these concerns affected her fertility. The other mother has had more recent health concerns but as our daughters are all 14 now I don’t know that her health concerns prevented more children either.

The fact remains it is none of my business. These families could well be limiting the number of children they had for selfish reasons, or maybe not. The bottom line is I am not the Holy Spirit. They have a Savior and the name of that Savior is not Taunya (my name). Since they are Christians I will allow their Savior to be their judge and keep my eyes focused on my own family and the areas where I am sure we have sinned and could use improvement.

I hope you have not taken this the wrong way but we as Christian women need to make sure that we don’t spend to much time judging the motives, decisions and practices of others it is just not how Christ would have us spend our time.

Kim M. September 29, 2009 - 2:04 pm

I have heard many similar stories of missionary children who had been “left behind”.

How utterly sad!

On an opposite note, Dr. Dobson said that his father left the ministry to come home to parent him. He was getting to be rebellious as a teenager. I know not everyone agrees with him 100 percent, but no one can deny the impact of his ministry to families. Just imagine if his father hadn’t made that decision.

the cottage child September 29, 2009 - 3:58 pm

Kim M, excellent point – as I understand it, his (Dr.Dobson’s) father also left a promising art career for ministry…it seems he was a man who listened to God’s calling above his own ego and desire for earthly fulfilment. It IS hard to imagine our contemporary Christian conversation with Dr.Dobson as a participant.

Jasmine September 29, 2009 - 5:43 pm

Mrs. Taunya,

I can’t speak for YWC, but, as a pastor’s daughter, I have heard quite a few young couples make the claim that they are putting off having children, not planning to have children at all, or limiting their number of children so that they could have more effective ministries. These are people who have been very vocal about that decision, and believe that it is what God has called them to do.

While I definitely agree that making assumptions about the reasons for a couple’s family size is unwise (and potentially very offensive and hurtful), there are many families who offer that information of their own accord.

Word Warrior September 29, 2009 - 6:18 pm

Ann–I have not read that story…perhaps I’ll add it to the list.

Margaret September 29, 2009 - 6:20 pm

“How many familiies have you personally met that stated they were limiting the number of children they have to two for the ministry? ”

I have met several, who were vocal and proud about it. In fact, my family has many missionary friends and the majority of them are totally open about the “hinderance” that more than two children would cause to their ministry.

I have also run across a very large mission organization that sets a limit on family size, to the point that one large family was denied soley on the basis of the size of their family, and ended up with another mission org who accepted them when they proved on paper that they could live frugally and on less than the average 4-person missionary family. I also met a family who got in serious trouble with the aforementioned mission organization for the birth of their 4th child and their refusal to stop having babies.

ycw September 30, 2009 - 9:09 am

Actually, I have yet to meet a couple who actually claims that they decided not to have more children due to ministry. It just strikes me as one of the few reasons to limit one’s fertility that seem justifiable at all (the other one being major health concerns).

I do not ask people why they stop having children, but I do say what’s on my heart and mind when people mention stopping, or being done, or how my adorable daughter makes them want another–usually something like “that’s too bad” or “I’m sorry” or (in the case of them wanting another) “why not?” I don’t bring it up, but it does come up. I certainly don’t make assumptions–I struggled with infertility for many years and I know others who do as well.

I know one woman who stopped due to health concerns, one who stopped because she wouldn’t want her adopted daughter to feel replaced by a blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter, at least one who “was lucky to get her husband to agree to four,” and most of the rest just don’t seem to want more kids or don’t want to be pregnant. I know of at least one who prevents for spacing and at least two (one infertile) who I don’t think prevent at all. Only one of those–the woman with health concerns, who had issues with hemorrhage and one very premature baby–mentioned seeking God’s will in the matter.

It does seem to me like cultural norms and comfort enter into these decisions far more often than prayer or prompting from the Holy Spirit. I try not to judge people, but I do judge the broad direction of my church and of the church, and I must be able to judge actions and motivations.

Lisa September 30, 2009 - 2:32 pm

I totally agree! Reminds me of verses like Jeremiah 32:35 “And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

God considered it an abomination to sacrifice children! And that was physically. How much more of an abomination would He consider it, to sacrifice children spiritually, their very souls, in order to “serve” God Himself?

I have often found myself almost (key word, *almost*) feeling guilty for not being more involved (or, more like, AS involved as many others are) in our small church. Then I remember the little ones the Lord has given me to minister, and how it’s a full-time job in itself! I also think of some of the mothers in the old testament…Sarah, Rebeckah, Leah, Rachel…what were they doing, leaving their homes and families to study the law with other women or organizing some other sort of ministry? No! They were right where they should have been raising up their children and taking care of their families.

Also, none of Jesus’ disciples were women. Why?

Jennifer March 13, 2010 - 7:21 pm

How awful! Co-habitation may not be Biblical, but I wouldn’t say one who does this isn’t a Christian; many are misguided about this issue and act thus because of it.

Compelling points, ycw. Very powerful, Kelly.

Jennifer March 13, 2010 - 7:27 pm

“None of Jesus’ disciples were women. Why?”

Because He had a plan for every man who joined Him. Women would no doubt have caused the sexist society to look down on Him and His group with wariness even more.


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