If you’ve ever wondered how you can obey the Great Commission and raise a family at the same time…Organic Outreach for Families is for you. This is not just a “theory.” This is an amazingly encouraging, highly practical manual to motivate families to be a lighthouse RIGHT WHERE GOD HAS PLACED THEM.
Kevin and Sherry Harney start off by pointing out the importance of loving your corner of the world while NOT neglecting your family:
Something is very wrong if we reach our neighbors with the love of Jesus but our children feel forgotten and marginalized. We have confused our priorities if we invest more time in our church than we do in our own children. Our first priority as parents is to love, teach, and lead our children toward an authentic and life-changing relationship with the Savior.
Jesus called His followers to be His witnesses to the very ends of the earth, but He also told them to start right where they lived. (Acts 1:8)
Next, they write about how we cultivate the culture of our HOMES. I appreciated these wise words:
The culture of a home also reflects grace when parents refuse to speak judgmental words about people in their community, church, or extended family. If we have sharp tongues and critical spirits in the privacy of our homes, our children soon recognize our hypocrisy. We can declare that we live in the love of God, but our words are a compelling witness that the gospel of grace does not yet rule in our hearts and homes.
After talking about how we share the gospel regularly with our own children, they then discuss how we bring the gospel to bear on our relationships with our extended family. Here’s how they define the gospel:
Bringing clean water to people in need is not the gospel. Providing food and clothing for the poor is not the gospel. Kind acts of service in various shapes and forms are not the gospel. All of these acts of compassion are important, and Jesus calls us to engage in them. But these actions in and of themselves are not the gospel. They are the fruit that grows in our lives when we have embraced the good news of Jesus.
The gospel is the simple message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for the sake of our sins. This message, communicated with words, has always been the gospel. It will always be the gospel.
Our acts of mercy and compassion can be thought of a pre-evangelism, opening the way for the gospel. but our acts of service, no matter how compassionate and lovingly motivated, are never enough to save people.
The next few chapters demonstrate the importance of making our homes:
- A safe haven
- An emergency room
- A playground
- A place of prayer
And our homes are to be all those things for our families, extended families, churches, and communities. They share dozens of stories of how they fleshed this out, giving the reader many practical ideas.
Finally, they write about how we can make our homes a lighthouse, and what hinders us from doing so. We tend to hide our light under “bushels” of:
- Other good things that take our time and energy
- Material stuff
They do address the fact that not everyone will be attracted to the light. Those who are mired in darkness often do not prefer the light because it exposes their own lostness. We should expect push-back. Jesus did.
But when we obediently, naturally, organically live lives that reflect the light and love of Christ, God will use our families to bring others to Himself and bring Him glory and honor.
Overall, I was surprised at how much God used this book to challenge me. It wasn’t anything *new* in the way I believe, but it did challenge me to ponder the ways I am currently more inward focused, and it did give me some very DOABLE things to help us get out of that rut and become more welcoming to those around us. I am praying God will tweak our family mission in organic–and LASTING–ways.
Here’s the trailer for the book: