In The Missional Mom, Helen Lee challenges Christian mothers to re-examine their roles in the world at large, looking beyond the home fires for ministry opportunities. She calls her home a “Missional Outpost,” defining the function of the home as a place where members can synergistically serve together and where children are taught to live out compassion.
From the start, Lee makes it clear that nothing worthwhile can be done missionally without having our primary role in place: loving and knowing God. From that point all other roles flow. Much of the book is spent deconstructing what we Americans consider our culture, and Lee candidly points out where our cultural thinking and values have gone off course from biblical teaching. In one particularly poignant section, she identifies some major misplaced values that exist even within the Christian community: achievement, consumerism, and materialism. For me, the topic of achievement was one I had never thought through before. For whose glory do we want our children to achieve? Why do we strive for the best education? So they can go to the best college, then have the best job, and then have the best life? Ouch. Lee pulls no punches, and her honesty is generously mixed with encouragements and real-life examples of women who have stepped out of what was comfortable to live in a more Christ-like manner.
The majority of the book equates being missional with social action. Lee uses Isaiah 58:6-7 as the basis for a Christian mom’s need to fight injustice, feed the hungry, and provide shelter to the needy. Her push toward this definition is understandable, since for the most part Americans avoid these uncomfortable kinds of service. I would suggest that the Bible promotes the use of our gifts to be first directed toward fellow believers, and second to the rest of the world (Galatians 6:9-10); however, I appreciate the need to wake people up to what’s happening around them and spur them to action (Hebrews 10:24-25).
A difficulty I had with this book was its take on evangelism and conversion. Influenced by Alan Hirsch and Paul Hiebert, Lee asserts that it doesn’t matter whether someone is in the kingdom of God or not, but simply that they are going in the right direction (p. 87). On this topic, Scripture does make a distinction between someone being a part of His kingdom or not (see Colossians 1, especially Colossians 1:13-14). Becoming a member of God’s family is the goal of evangelism, with discipleship being the follow up action required by Him. In quoting the Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20, Lee says that Jesus is clearly commanding followers to disciple others, but she stops short of the part where He says we are to baptize them, too. We ought to be begging people to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20), and then discipling them in the faith. Granted, at times these take place in a different order, but the Bible doesn’t teach that we are to be unconcerned with their “faith status” (p. 88).
Although these are big issues with Christian teachers and theologians, these points will likely not change the overall message to moms: love others as Christ loves us, and look beyond your artificial boundaries of what you can do in the world. Lee’s heart for the Lord and for others is obvious throughout this book. With the above caveats in mind, I recommend The Missional Mom for the encouragement she provides and the difficult questions she causes readers to think through. – Stacy Oliver, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
We all must seek to be missional in our life journey. Today's Christian moms come from a full range of personal and professional context, whether they are homemakers, full-time in the marketplace, or somewhere in between. Numerous Christian mothers are living missional lives, using their gifts and abilities to further God's kingdom by engaging the world around them. They artfully, passionately, sometimes messily, juggle multiple callings and demonstrate in their modern day contexts how they are emulating the woman of noble character in Proverbs 31.
The Missional Mom will affirm Christian mothers who desire to not only to build their homes in a Christ-like way, but engage the world with their skills, abilities, and interests. It won't minimize the importance of a woman's role in her home but it will encourage her to not ignore the stirrings God has planted within her to extend her influence.