Recently we had some friends over for dinner and they announced they were expecting their fifth child. We were thrilled. I laughed looking into our backyard and seeing our own eight children running around in circles, creating a mini-circus. Our neighbors must have thought we were having a birthday party.

As we rejoiced with them over the exciting news, my friend made an interesting comment, “You know, early on in our marriage we talked about how we might change the world by writing a book or getting on the cover of Time, but now we’re realizing our best shot at changing the world is through raising the kids God has given us.”

A Call to (Tiny) Arms

What if more Christians had this view of family? What if more of us didn’t see children as a burden, but as a blessing, and as an opportunity to raise up a small army who could change the world?

At what other point in life do we have such a convenient opportunity to teach, model, rebuke, and encourage the characteristics we desire to see in another person? We have tiny disciples living right under our roof. We so often talk about the ministry we’re doing with others — discipleship over coffee or another Bible study — but what about at our own breakfast table?

If we want to impact our world for Christ, many of us should be involved in raising up a new generation of Jesus followers. I realize not everyone is called to marriage, and some married believers suffer from infertility. But for those of us who are blessed with kids living within our walls, here are a few ways to raise little world-changers. Shape their minds and hearts with these five passions and habits while they’re still living in your home.

1. A Hungry Passion to Meet God in His Word

Everyday our kids see how we choose to use our time. Do they know that spending time in God’s Word is a priority for you? Talk at the dinner table about what you’re studying in Scripture. Ask them what they learned from the sermon or their Sunday school lesson. Our passion, or lack of passion, for the Bible will be easily absorbed by the ones who spend every day watching us. Help them realize the Bible is the most amazing book we have on this earth!

2. A Prayerful Dependence on God in Everything

Do your kids know you pray for them? A routine question we ask our kids when putting them to bed is, “How can I pray for you tonight?” It’s amazing to me how just those few words can help them open their heart to us and share what’s troubling them.

When we see world tragedies on the news or an accident happen on the highway in front of us, our kids should see that our knee jerk reaction is to pray for those involved. God hears and cares and desires to answer the prayers of his saints. There is nothing too big or too small to pray about.

3. A Contagious Gratitude to God for Everything

“Every good and perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). Thankful people are happy people. And realizing that all our good gifts are given from our Heavenly Father should spur us on to give thanks — both to him and to others. Each day I have opportunities to model thankfulness in my family, whether it’s for the food we’re about to eat, or for my daughter unloading the dishwasher.

Point out to your kids the goodness of God shown to you through the beautiful sunset or your new refrigerator, and be thankful! The joy spread through more and more grateful people living in a society will eventually change that society — or family, or church, or neighborhood.

4. A Happy Faithfulness to Your Local Church Family

Our church body is a precious gift. They are our family away from family. I want our kids to know that being with this body of believers is a high priority in life. Attending corporate worship trumps Sunday morning sports. Being involved in fellowship, through hospitality to small group Bible studies to playdates, is a staple part of our life.

As our kids grow, we want them to see and understand the seriousness of church membership and know that church isn’t just meant to be a Sunday morning thing. These are the precious people God has given us to walk through life with and we should make it a priority to be with them.

5. A Compassionate Heart for World Missions

My husband and I dream about one day being able to take all our kids on a mission trip with us. But for now, as we change the diapers of our 2-year-old and carpool to school, we still have opportunities to give our kids a vision for missions.

Read missionary biographies and talk about their impact for the kingdom. Invite missionaries into your home, and let your kids hear them share about their lives over dinner. Pray as a family for the needs of the missionaries you support. Look for ways to serve your own community, from hosting a neighborhood ice cream social to serving at a soup kitchen in your own city.

If God has blessed you with children, consider what legacy you’re leaving them that will impact our world. Even though the American dream teaches us to limit the number of our children to ensure a more comfortable, undistracted lifestyle, consider doing something radical to make a difference for Christ: Have and raise kids!

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! (Psalm 127:3–5)