How can we help our kids view themselves as part of the global church? I had an interesting conversation in a restaurant with someone who was visiting the United States from Argentina. He was eager to interview Americans and test the stereotype that Americans are loud and opinionated, but uninformed about the rest of the world — thinking they don’t need to travel or learn from anyone else. Having interviewed a few hundred people before me, he had determined that not having enough vacation time to travel contributed to this problem, but that the stereotype of a superior and incurious attitude about the rest of the world was proving true from his conversations.
For my family and I, understanding, befriending, and partnering with those outside of our country had always been important to us. I told him I had traveled in my early 20s, my young adult children have been outside the U.S., we had a significant emphasis on geography in our homeschool, and still maintained friendships with many people who live in other countries. For my family and I, we have always seen ourselves as global Christians, a part of God’s worldwide church family, regardless of the countries or cultures that divided us.
Apparently, my family was outside the norm for this man and the several hundred other Westerners he’d interviewed before me. A tragedy that made me think, “how can we better teach kids to be global Christians?”
While it’s interesting to learn about other cultures, world evangelism and concern about the millions who don’t have the opportunity to know the good news of Jesus needs to be our main motivation. It’s easy, if we’re not intentional, to neglect helping our children and teens to view themselves as part of the global church — brothers and sisters in Christ, both with those within and outside our country. It’s time to be intentional. Here are five ways to teach kids to be global Christians.
1. Put the Global Church in Perspective
First, I think we should start with accurate information. It’s easy to think, “well there’s us Westerners — we’re the church — and then there’s everybody else that’s also part of that church.” In reality, three-fourths of believers live outside of North America and Europe. That means three-fourths of believers have a far different culture than Americans and Europeans. It’s important we teach our kids, “we are just a teeny, tiny part of God’s big, worldwide church.”
2. Avoid Cultural Superiority
Second, don’t slip into a superior tone. Avoid world maps that place your country in the center, visually reinforcing that everything revolves around “us”. Additionally, be sure to identify positive factors in other countries that make us privileged, and humbled, to be their brothers and sisters in Christ.
For instance, Korean and African brothers and sisters are known for their dedication to prayer. Chinese and Middle Eastern believers are known for their courage because they can lose their jobs, homes, and even their family for believing in Jesus. Many believers in other countries are known for loving to gather and worship so much that their church services go much longer than ours. Many sacrifice dearly to own a Bible.
The list goes on, and we can learn much from worldwide believers’ great love for Jesus.
3. Emphasize What Unites Us: Belief in Jesus
Third, talk about how, when Christians travel, we have the special privilege of being able to meet believers in other countries and right away have a deep connection with them as our brothers and sisters in Christ. Because we share a commonality in that the most important thing in our life is belief in Jesus, that connection is stronger than with people in our own culture. There is no “us and them” between global Christians. Only those who are already in our global church family and those who still so desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus.
4. Share Stories of Other Kids Being Global Christians
Fourth, teach kids to be global Christians by sharing how the church of Jesus is growing in other countries — largely in part thanks to the witness of children just like them. The redemptive work of God is not limited by age or experience, and He delights in the beautiful, childlike faith of children. Teach kids that every child can be used by God to share the good news of Jesus with others, if they’ll let Him!
You can get many stories and photos about children in other countries by subscribing to Impact Magazine, provided by Child Evangelism Fellowship. Simply click here for your free subscription, or go to cefpress.com and search for “Impact Magazine”.
5. Get Involved and Take Action
Fifth, teach kids to be global Christians by encouraging them to take action and support the missions doing God’s work. To do this, when talking with kids about what’s happening in global missions, use the word “partnership” frequently. Describe how we can assist others who are furthering God’s kingdom and thus be a partner to them. Then, move on to the responsibility God has given this particular group of children that you are teaching, and instruct them on how they can be global Christians themselves.
Is there something they can do to help the worldwide church? Maybe they are called to pray for others. Maybe they can help spread awareness or knowledge of certain missions or needs that the church can fill. Or maybe God has given them material blessings they can share, or special abilities they can use to benefit world missions. The possibilities are endless and no action too small!
As just one example on how you can teach kids to be global Christians, through Child Evangelism Fellowship, your family or Sunday School class can choose a country to support a national believer currently hosting Good News Clubs in schools. This opportunity allows you to send a box of Bible lesson visuals to a grateful Good News Club teacher, who can travel from school to school, or even from group to group in a refugee camp, teaching kids about the good news of Jesus. It’s truly amazing how many children these dedicated believers teach every week!
No matter how you or children choose to take action, it’s important to get involved and teach kids to be global Christians — learning to partner with and appreciate our brothers and sisters in Christ across the nations. How can you help children experience the excitement of being part of God’s world-wide church?