Playground Missions: Changing the World One Juice Box at a Time

By September 3, 2014Featured Posts

Playground missions

Note from Kat: This post is from my good friend and monthly contributor, Liz Griffin.

My husband and I were a year into planting a church in Seattle when my daughter was born. Of course, I was thrilled to be a mom and have this little blonde baby to spend my days with. Who wouldn’t? I was prepared for sleepless nights and days spent in yoga pants, but there were some aspects of the motherhood transition I wasn’t as prepared for.

As someone who had been doing ministry for years, it took some getting used to seeing how motherhood aligned with my passion for church planting and discipleship.

I was able to schedule in a few meetings with girls during naps, but most of the time I was at the library story hour or pushing a swing at a playground.

While the journey had some ups and downs, I am more convinced than ever that raising kids offers a massive opportunity to show the love of Jesus to an entire demographic I previously had no access to.

My kid’s friends.

This summer two things happened that showed me what an impact my parents had on kids that I played with when I was little. In June I was talking to a friend that I had known since elementary school, but really got close to in high school. She had come from a broken home and my parents always invited her over after school. She joined us for countless meals and weekend hang outs.

While we were catching up she told me about her new book club. The group was currently reading a book called The Most Important Place on Earth. I have never read it but it is about the significant role of the home. One of their first discussion questions was to share about a place that made them feel valuable and important. “You know what I said?”, she asked me. “ I told them it was your parents house. I always felt loved and safe there.”.

Fast forward to August. A guy who is in our college ministry at our church went on a mission trip to Russia. While there he visited the church that my parents started when we lived there in the 90s. He brought back a gift for me from my friend Natasha. To my amazement she packed a silver box with some of my favorite goodies from Russia. I poured over all the yummy foods I haven’t had in years and the sweet tokens of a city that I love so much.

Mostly, I was amazed at her story. When I lived there Natasha was just a neighborhood girl that I played with. We’d go to the market, meet at the park after school and my mother invited her in for tea on several occasions. It was always accompanied with an invitation to church. In 1995 my family moved back to Texas. Fast forward almost twenty years. Natasha went through some challenging situations over the years and eventually – a decade later – came to our church.  She is now living her life fully for Jesus and a pillar in our church there.

That is me in the center and Natasha on my right. I know, I know. I look so good here. (That is me in the center and Natasha on my right. I know, I know. I look so good here.)

These stories have confirmed what I have already been coming to understand on my own journey into motherhood. As parents we not only shape our own children, but the children around them.

While this looks different as our kids grown up and reach different ages, there are some simple things we can do to be missional no matter your kids age.

1. Pray. Most of us mom’s pray for our kids, but what an opportunity to get to pray for their friends. The kids in their classes, on their soccer team or down the street. A simple way to sow the Kingdom into their generation. Who knows, you may be the only person who is praying for them!

2. Make our homes available. Growing up my house was always filled with my friends. No, we didn’t have a pool or fancy media rooms. You know what we had? A nurturing and fun environment. My friends loved being at my house. There was always an open door policy. Several times in high school I would come home and find my friends over just hanging out with my parents. You never outgrow the need for parent figures.

3. Invite them to church. Let’s get real here, okay? I have enough trouble getting my own kids to church on time and the thought of going out of my way to pick up another little person seems pretty stressful. But, how worth it for them to have the chance to learn more about Jesus. Hopefully their entire family goes – but if not – set the timer on your iPhone and leave in time to swing by and pick up a friend.

It may not seem like it when we are punching straws into Capri Suns on play dates or  helping break up a fight over an American Girl doll. But, we have a BIG opportunity to impact an entire generation. Libraries, parks, our living rooms – an open mission field that is ripe for the harvest.

What ways have you found motherhood to be missional? Any thoughts or ideas? Share here in the comments!

20130218-193106.jpg Elizabeth is a church planter, speaker, writer and naptime abolitionist. She lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Her other hobbies include wasting time on social media, trying to remember where she parked her car & browsing Pinterest for DIY projects she will never actually make. You can visit her at Lark & Bloom or on Twitter @thelizgriffin.

 

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7 Comments

  • Avatar Katie says:

    I truly love this. My mom was this kind of mom…welcoming and nurturing to all my friends, ready with understanding and advice their own parents didn’t always give. I loved that my home was like this for my friends, but I hadn’t ever thought far enough ahead to see that I might be able to do the same thing for my kids’ friends (my girls are 4 and 1.5 right now). Thank you for the inspiration and for bringing back sweet memories of my mama.

    • Avatar Elizabeth says:

      Wasn’t it great growing up in a home like this? I didn’t realize at the time how powerful and rare that kind of home life is. Thanks for reading Katie!

  • Avatar Tricia says:

    Thank you for sharing! What a fabulous story! This is such an encouragement to me for this phase in my life. Before my second son was born I was on a MOPs leadership team and heavily involved in volunteer work — but now I’m literally a stay-at-home mom (who mostly stays at home) but my home is becoming filled with more and more children and I’ve come to realize that my home is my mission field. Thank you!

    • Avatar Elizabeth says:

      Tricia, I know what you mean about being a literal stay-at-home mom. For a while we were a one car family and I was at home with the kids a ton. Love that you have the opportunity to pour into these kids coming through your home. I know it means so much to them whether they realize it or not yet.

  • Avatar Brittany says:

    I was just thinking about this, but with a twist – I’m not a mom but have two younger siblings I live with. Many of their friends have bad home situations, so I always wonder what I can do to help. I think these ideas are great, even for the big sisters of the world. 🙂

    • Avatar Elizabeth says:

      I love the way you think Brittany! Such great perspective that being a big sister can impact so many of your sibling’s friends. They are lucky to have a sister who is so engaged in their lives. You are a world changer lady.

  • Avatar Grace from London says:

    And so how do you go about creating a home like this when you work out of the home full time and did not grow up in a home like that? I want to do this and what you say make so much sense but how?