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Monday, February 20, 2012

Sacrificing mission on the altar of family?

Sacrificing mission on the altar of family?

by Mike Breen
As I've said before, we are often creatures of overreaction. One of the recent things I've been seeing in working with pastors is an almost paranoia about bringing the life and mission of the church into the life and mission of their family. My observation is that clearly a generation or two of ministry leaders are ensuring not to do what they've seen some of their forebears do: Sacrifice their family on the altar of mission (ministry). And they should be commended for this.
What often happens is an unhelpful compartmentalization rather than integration of life. We've been given ONE LIFE so we should live ONE LIFE. So rather than working 60, 70, 80 hour weeks and leaving our families on their own, we've pulled the work hours way back (good!), but have put up impenetrable walls between the life of the church's mission and the life of our families. There is often very little overlap between the two.
But is that what we really want for our families? Don't we want the mission of Jesus to be their mission? Don't we want the whole of our family to function in that mission together?
Here's the problem. For far too long, many of us felt we were pushed into having to make this false dichotomy: Is it family OR mission?
Rightly recognizing we shouldn't sacrifice our families, we started to put some healthy boundaries in place, but also some unhealthy ones. So we started to compartmentalize. But I believe it's part of the progression. So for many of us, this is now the question of our time: Is it family AND mission?
But when we learn to integrate our life and live well as a people participating in the mission of God each and every day and as we listen to the mission God is calling our family to, this is the next progression: Is it family ON mission?
Yes there are still smart boundaries we put in place, but it's integration that opens up our families to a new reality of life in the Kingdom of God.
It's fascinating to watch the leaders we work with make this progression as their life becomes more and more integrated and their family is part of that calling:
  • Family OR Mission?
  • Family AND Mission?
  • Family ON Mission.
We have one life, so let's live one life with our family on mission together.
Where do you think you and your family are functioning right now?

Friday, February 10, 2012


Stories are powerful. They inspire, encourage, and capture us. They draw from us a myriad of emotions. I remember as a child, my mom reading The Chronicles of Narnia to my brother and me every morning at the breakfast table. I was instantaneously transported to a land of fantasy and intrigue over a bowl of Life cereal.

Today, we read stirring stories in the Bible of God’s provision and faithfulness. We hear of God providing food and water for Moses and the wandering Israelites (Exodus 16-17), delivering Daniel from the mouths of hungry lions (Daniel 6), and producing oil for a widow to sell so her sons would be saved from slavery (2 Kings 4).

We personally hear amazing stories of God providing for people in truly miraculous ways. We have listened to people tell their stories of how they received an unexpected check in the mailbox, or a refund in the exact amount needed for an unforeseen expense, or how someone had an available refrigerator at the exact time that theirs went out.

But just like listening to a story about Narnia, we have only heard, we have not experienced. A lot of us do not have our own stories of God’s faithfulness and provision that we can share.

The potential for the writing of some our own stories is one of the main reasons I am excited about the “40 Days of Giving Challenge.” If you missed last Sunday, it is based out of Malachi 3.8-10. The people had not been faithful in bringing their tithes and offerings to God and were guilty of robbing Him. For the first time in Scripture God tells them to put Him to the test by giving to Him what is rightfully His. He tells them that if they do this, He will “pour out a blessing until there is no more need.”

We have the opportunity to do a few things through these 40 days. First, we have the opportunity to become the kind of sacrificial, cheerful giver that God loves (2 Corinthians 9.6-7, 2 Corinthians 8.2-3). Secondly, we have the opportunity to grow in our trust of God through giving (2 Corinthians 9.8). And thirdly, we have the opportunity to become part of the story of what God is going to do in these 40 days (Malachi 3.10; Proverbs 3.9-10).

We have already begun to hear stories of God’s blessings in the lives of those who have committed to becoming a more God-honoring and trusting giver. God is already demonstrating His faithfulness and we wait with anticipation to see how this chapter of the story of The River Church is going to be written. We invite you to contribute a page to this story… to God’s story… to your story… to our story.

Let us hear your story of how God blesses you in these 40 days. Email us at or drop us a note in the offering basket or in one of the black boxes located at the rear of the auditorium.