Family Missionary Life at Home - How Does Your Family Serve?


Do you ever wonder if you are doing enough to serve God? Do we really go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature? How can we do more to be “family missionaries” in our own homes and everyday lives?

As a mother of four young children I know I already do a lot. I dedicate the majority of my time to loving my husband and raising our children and weaving a home together. I enjoy spending time with our families and live for the next social gathering with good friends. I’m friendly and smile with people in my neighborhood, at the playground and in the local stores, and help out as I can in my parish. We send our automatic check to the parish every month, have the kids drop a few coins in the collection basket every Sunday, and send money here and there for local and non-local charities.

But is that all I can do?  Is that all I should do? I know I do a lot already, but is it enough?

Giving money to organizations working directly with those who need it is great, but it’s not the same as looking into the eyes of those in need and offering what I can. Sending a check for a new water well or school building just isn’t the same as sliding my work gloves on and laying those bricks. I can send a donation for disaster relief for families who’ve lost everything, but without being there in person, I really can’t grasp the gravity of the devastation they face. I can fast and pray for the starving kids in Africa but something tells me cutting out one of our six meals of the day wouldn’t even touch the tip of their hunger pain.

I’d like to do more to serve Christ and spread the Gospel, using words if necessary, on my own and with my family but I’m still trying to figure out how. Below is a graph I made to help me visually order and prioritize the various “layers” of giving and serving God in my life. The first layer, of course, belongs to God and our relationship. By loving God and serving Him as my first and most important priority, all other service to Him ripples out to the other relationships and areas of my life where I can I serve Him.

Family Missionary Life at Home

Family Missionary Life at Home

Serving God in our lives as mothers and families starts within our own families. A family offers the best place to learn and practice patience, empathy and compassion. If we can’t serve those nearest us, we’ll never truly give beyond ourselves. All that said, some days I can’t help but wonder if I use my family as an excuse for not doing more to bring Christ’s love to others in the world. But then, how could I possibly give of myself to anyone else when I’m lucky to shower on a daily basis let alone use the bathroom by myself? And while it’s really cool that the parish is organizing a mission trip to build houses for the poor, I can’t abandon my family and say “Adios! I’ll see you in a week!”  I admire and pray earnestly for those families who give up their comfortable lifestyle and secure jobs in exchange for a missionary life in foreign lands and domestically. Yet, that’s not something I (or my husband) think God’s calling our family to for now.

However, I’d like to find a way to apply the missionary life within our own little family and community somehow. Sure, there are various volunteer opportunities for older youth, young adults and adults in the community – but not for families with little children. Although, I can’t blame them too much, who would want a bunch of hoodlums romping around an elderly home? The idea sounds lovely up until the point when my boys’ 5-minute attention span runs out and they decide to find out what all the various plugs and buttons attached to the patients’ beds do.  I’d love to take everyone with me to give the gift of company to the kids stuck in the pediatric wards but my children would probably sneeze and pick their noses and wipe their snot all over them, or come home with nasty hospital-bred bugs of their own. Of course, there’s always the prison ministry – now this one could be a good way to exemplify that our choices have consequences, but I’d rather not destroy my children’s innocence at such an early age if I can help it. If it weren’t for the crude language, graphic pictures, and dangerous hostility I’d consider praying peacefully as a family at the abortion clinic, but they wouldn’t understand – nor do I want them to yet!

How do you and your families serve God in this world as a family?

Copyright 2013 Erika Marie


About Author

Erika Marie is a simple Catholic, Wife, and Mama. She relishes snuggles and free time with her family and enjoys reading, writing, blogging, and has a slightly obsessive addiction to creating Canva graphics. Enjoy more reflections by Erika at her personal simplemama blog.


  1. Kristy Lee on

    Thank you for this. I have two younger kids and wonder about this myself. Haven’t really found an answer yet either. Someday… I pray! 🙂

  2. Erika, thanks for such a great article. I’d like to recommend two great ways that young families can “do” missionary work in the context of family life. The first is to sponsor a young or aging “friend” through CFCA: – you will receive regular letters from your friend and you can send them small gifts too, plus your children will grow to learn about the countries where their friend lives and their life’s circumstances. My second suggestion is CRS’ Rice Bowl – – it’s a Lenten program, but you could go on the website now to start learning about it. You might even go meatless on Fridays all year, with an eye towards small microgiving projects you can do to help others. Hope this helps. Thanks for raising a great topic!

  3. K. Novcaski on

    Hello Erika- sounds like you are doing a wonderful job giving with your family within time and age constraints. I have 3 boys, youngest is 14. I did all the things you are doing with my children also.

    One other family suggestion, which depending on the age of the children could be a little messy but fun, is making sandwiches for any shelters you have in town. You could call ahead and see who could use them. We have a shelter that serves sandwiches on a regular basis so we make sandwiches once or twice a month as a family and then pray a blessing over them and for the people who would be eating before we turn them in. Take your oldest and drive with him/ her to drop them off. The younger they are when they see needs in people I believe the more compassionate they are if they are taught compassion in the family

    Never under estimate the power of sacrifice! God taught us with the crucifixion and other Bible stories that sacrifice counts! No matter how small! God uses it in some way even if we don’t know how, so doing a small fast like forgoing dessert or that pop or candy bar that I want and telling God to use my sacrifice for say, world hunger or the homeless man on the street we saw today is a big way of giving.
    Praying a prayer as a family when we hear a siren.

    Giving a neighbor, whom you may think ” has everything and doesn’t need” a picture you (your child) drew or buying a bunch of flowers and parseling them out to the neighbors or those you see in a store with a smile is giving of oneself and shows kids how easy it is to make someone’s day.

    When one of our children became a scout we all participated in all the service projects as a family as much as possible.

    I might read about a particular person involved in a tragedy or about something happening to a group of people in the world in the paper, then read it to the kids at dinner, then we pray about it.

    My older kids are adults now and I miss doing all that stuff with my kids! One time I took them to stop off books at a “kid’s kitchen’s” charity and the owner talked to them about what they did there and told them how lucky they were to have 2 parents that cared about them. There is so much out there I’m our communities!

    You take care of yourself and your family and give as you can and as you see the need, I think that is what we are called to do.

    Thanks for writing here. I just found this website and started checking it more often instead of just news sites! I know the opinions anf knowledge shared here will make me a better Catholic!

  4. Betsy VanScoyk on

    Have your family adopt a mission or missionary. They can see the work that is done 1st hand. The pictures are usually very beautiful. I go with Helping Hands Medical Missions, it’s a Catholic Medical Mission and you can google them and look at their web-site. There is a link to the You-Tube videos. Your children at the very least will see that there are others less fortunate.

  5. Thank you all for the great suggestions!
    K, we do have a local family shelter that we take food to every now and then so maybe we need to do this more often. On those same lines, a friend shared that she has her kids help, as best they can, bake it cook a dinner or snack for new mothers and/or come with her to deliver it. Young kids could also get involved by making a card or picture, you’re right that everyone, especially adults, loves these precious hand made gifts best.
    I also like the idea, Lisa, to sponsor a young or aging “friend” through CFCA, the picture and correspondence would make it real for my kids instead of just another check to some unknown person.
    Betsy, wonderful . If we can’t join them we can help support them!

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