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St. Louis, MO
5 Stars Out Of 5
Inspiring, Convicting, Motivating
July 18, 2011
St. Louis, MO
I'm a mom. So now what is my main purpose in life? Is it just to serve my family, or does God call us as a family to serve our world? Or more importantly, how do I do that while juggling the responsibilities of being a mom and wife? Helen Lee unpacks the answers to these and other foundational questions in her book titled The Missional Mom. If you're a mom, you need to read this book.
Lee's book is theologically sound and refreshingly practical. She exposes the dangers of child-centered parenting and the pitfalls of raising a family in American culture while highlighting the impact that one mom who raises her family for kingdom purposes can make. She explores what it means to be evangelistic and a third culture parent. Most significantly, she guides women in an important conversation about what it means to live out our callings as mothers with purpose, fulfillment, and joy. Sprinkled throughout her book are inspiring stories of how God has led countless other women to change our world as culture shapers and kingdom people.
Lee writes with conviction, humility, and authenticity. In The Missional Mom, you will be encouraged to see your life holistically with your home as a "missional outpost" to engage in the world and serve where God has planted you. This book is practical and provides not only a great starting place but also a great resource to return to again and again as God shapes our lives and brings new opportunities to live out the Great Commission. Lee writes, "Despite our flaws, despite our weaknesses--or perhaps more accurately, because of our flaws and because of our weaknesses--we are called to bear witness to what Christ has done for us...Every one of us is, in fact, a missionary sent by God, loved and empowered by Him to do His will." (page 23)
The Missional Mom greatly encouraged me. While I want my life to be about more than the five people in our home, with so many responsibilities to juggle I struggle with even having the energy to engage in the needs of the world around me. Lee's practical suggestions of praying for the Holy Spirit to lead, partnering with like-minded moms and even just becoming more aware of the issues and events in the world are simple ways for me to start to grow in this area. I can tell others that their one life makes a difference, but most importantly I must believe it in my own heart and live it for myself and my family.
Lee makes several important points, such as remembering that we are called to disciple the nations, not merely "evangelize." That we should allow God to use us wherever we are with whatever gifts and resources we may have. She's right on target with her understanding that our first calling is to be in relationship with God, and all missional action flows out of that relationship. She promotes adoption, volunteering, reaching out across cultural and economic boundaries, good stewardship, being content and grateful rather than materialistic, and other important Biblical principles.
However, when I visited her website and clicked on the "resources" tab, I found three sections entitled "Living Green," "Living Justly," and "Racial Reconciliation." These causes make several appearances in her book.
What worries me is how innocent and scripturally grounded Helen Lee sounds in most of her book, which belies the radical resources she's directing her readers towards. She makes several ignorant assumptions about poverty, justice, and economics - the same common ones that average Christians (even many conservatives) have been making, and they are lightly scattered through what otherwise would have been a completely satisfactory chapter.
For instance, she condemns consumerism as idolatry (so far so good), but then describes the myriad of choices in the cereal aisle as an example of how Americans are driven by consumerism (do we really NEED all these choices?). In her mind, capitalism appears to equal greed and materialism - a common but dangerous logical fallacy. Perhaps she doesn't recognize that having all those choices is FAR better than living in a Communist country where you only have ONE choice - and have to stand in a bread line for hours to get it. In rightly opposing the idolatry of consumerism, she incorrectly condemns the choices provided by the free market, and undermines the very foundational freedoms which would allow the third-world nations she worries about to finally lift themselves out of grinding poverty.
She talks about how she was disturbed to hear the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" played along with "God Bless America" at a Fourth of July celebration because it implied that "being a Christian and an American were one and the same." She defines "the American Dream" as "being good consumers and competitors". She decries that the church has become "immersed in the culture_of materialism, autonomy, individualism, and competition," as if all of these qualities were evil in and of themselves (not merely when they become a form of idolatry). Given the fact that Jim Wallis and others in the "social justice" movement make frequent appearances in her book, I'm not surprised at the erroneous scriptural parallels and conclusions she draws.
In an especially disturbing entry, she lists the phrases describing those whom Jesus says will be "blessed" in the Beatitudes: Poor in spirit, mourning, meek_etc. She then says, "This is not the kind of list that resembles the American Dream, which proclaims the right of every American to have Ã¢â¬Ëlife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'."
The American Dream is FREEDOM, not materialism, and the inalienable rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence are declared as things which only God can grant and take away (not the "almighty state"). Only someone ignorant of the history and origin behind those timeless words could equate them with the idolatry of consumerism, and essentially condemn them as unbiblical.
The problem is, the average American Christian is largely ignorant of both history and Biblical economics (as Lee appears to be), and so has very little armor to defend themselves against socialist arguments cloaked as calls to discipleship. Lee's are so subtly woven that it makes me believe she's not a socialist - merely a misled Christian mother who wants to be missional, looked for ways to serve, got sucked into Leftist arguments for making the world better, and is now encouraging other mothers to do the same. Her motives and the scriptural admonitions to be salt and light appear to be straight up, but the practical applications she turns to as the solution are downright dangerous.
This becomes even more clear when one visits "The Missional Mom" website for more information and resources. The "Living Green" section is full of links about saving the planet from global warming. Lee appears to be fully on board with the Leftist global warming movement, believing it to be "Biblical stewardship". She provides links to Al Gore's debunked propaganda film "An Inconvenient Truth," the anti-capitalist short film "The Story of Stuff," the now-radicalized environmentalist organization "World Wildlife Fund," and dozens of other completely unbiblical resources.
Under the "Racial Reconciliation" tab, you can find books like "Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools" by radical leftist education writer Jonathan Kozol, and "Fire in the Heart: How White Activists Embrace Racial Justice" by Mark R. Warren, which is praised on Amazon by the radical left-wing activist Tim Wise, author of "White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son." Michael Emerson's book "Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America" is mentioned several times in "The Missional Mom", but what is not mentioned are the Ã¢â¬ËBig Government' solutions Emerson pushes, encouraging liberal policies and blaming conservatives for standing in the way of "racial progress".
It's not difficult to see how Lee's ideas have been shaped by such influences. An entire chapter in her book is dedicated to racial relations, and while most of it simply encourages families to build cross-cultural relationships, it is built on the underlying theme that most Americans (and whites, especially), are closet racists who just haven't recognized it yet. Apparently the best way to solve this "problem" is to meet some quota of minorities in your relationships and churches, such as the pastor she praises for raising his church's percentage of "ethnically diverse" attendees from 2 to 20 percent. If the percentage of minorities warming your pews were truly a direct measurement of how "racist" a church is, then Scandinavian and African tribal churches would be the most racist in the world. But they're not - because one is not a direct reflection of the other (except in the minds of Leftists who thrive on stoking racial divisiveness, victim mentality and white guilt to garner votes and further the cause of redistribution).
The "Living Justly" tab provides resources which promote "social justice", which, among Christians, has become the "spiritualized" term for forced wealth redistribution via the government. The redistribution angle is often very subtle, because many Christians don't discern the socialist undertones to these so called "charitable" enterprises. They just erroneously equate them with Biblical charity.
In Lee's book, she praises a mother who went to see Bono perform and raise awareness for AIDS in Africa, got involved in his "ONE" campaign against poverty and disease, and met an African woman who was receiving anti-viral medicine through a program that was funded by a foreign aid package that she had lobbied George W. Bush for. The woman is amazed at how her lobbying produced results and now she's meeting someone she "helped."
Warm and fuzzy story, until you step back a step and realize that she didn't really "help" anyone with her OWN money, but with money that had been taken by force from someone under pain of going to jail. That's not Biblical charity - that's stealing, and the Bible is very clear about theft. Using the state as an instrument of plunder to launder the money for you doesn't make it right. Stealing by majority vote doesn't make it right. Stealing with "good intentions" for a "better world" doesn't make it right. That's the subtle deception that the Church desperately needs to recognize. God may have been calling this mother to help in the fight against AIDS, but with her OWN resources or those donated by volunteers - not someone else's stolen property.
On her website, under the "Living Justly" tab, one of the links is for a children's book by radical anti-semite and socialist Desmond Tutu. Other recommended books include those by PETA "Animal Liberation" activist Peter Singer, "Emerging Church" theological revisionist Brian McLaren, and Shane Claiborne, whose book includes a foreword by self-described "Evangelical" Marxist Jim Wallis. Wallis himself is quoted on page 68, which is rather disturbing given his history of socialist radicalism.
I'm afraid the 90% of the book which appears Biblically sound cannot disguise the other poisonous 10%. Christians must be wary of the dangers of "social justice" theology and other erroneous distortions of Biblical stewardship and charity.
Being a missional mom means looking beyond the scope of your own home. We need to realize that the culture around us influences so profoundly that we often fall in contrast to God's plan. One way to stand out is to live sacrificially, to have eyes like Jesus and see the realities of the world around us. Focusing on those in need, those less fortunate than us and those in third world countries is the crux of being missional.
By being a missional mom you can influence and model for you to raise a missional family. Helen Lee says "God's calling is for all Christ Followers: Go and love and serve others. Go and make disciples. Go and be missional. Whatever you do, go out into the world and make a difference."
I felt the message of the book was great. We do need to go out into the world and make disciples for Christ. We can all engage in the world by spending time reading the newspaper or watching the news to see what is going on in the world. We can pray for those things. We can probe deeper into an area that God may be calling us to. And we can participate in concrete actions by taking steps of faith.
I believe that this lesson is very seasonal .I think that a mom with very young children, with many children, who homeschools and manages a farm_ won't be in this season for many years. To some degree she can still be missional. Pray for those who are hurting around the world, sponsor a child through world vision; help out at church with missions efforts. I think there should have been more emphasis on the seasons, as it wasn't really mentioned until late in Chapter 11. Being an overwhelmed mom and reading this book would make me feel more overwhelmed.
I recommend this book for Moms who are in a season where they can seriously consider being missional. I strongly feel that those who are in the younger years are in their mission field by raising their children.
I received a free copy of the Missional Mom from Moody to review it.
Helen Lee has written a great book called "The Missional Mom" in which she sets out, in 11 chapters, what a missional mom is and what she does; however, it is very apparent application will be difficult if you are work outside the home mom. I agree that it is each mother's mission, whether she is a working mom or stay-at-home mom, to teach her children the importance of serving others who are not as fortunate as they are and giving sacrificially to meet the basic needs of others.
Lee does not approach readers with condemnation or condescension. Her work is, however, tailored to those with more flexibility in their time and home. It is very well organized and features examples of real women who are being missional and sharing their passions and gifts with others.
Everyone has a mission. Lee just teaches how to be missional in today's culture and how to implement a plan for your family. The first and most important step is to develop a relationship with Jesus. Without it, you can do nothing. She doesn't suggest that you go be missional without first taking the time to become intimate with God. She urges readers to find the mission God has for them. Each example of the missional mom in her book is unique, and she wants each mother to find where God wants her and what He wants her to do.
If you are a stay-at-home mom and/or a homeschooling mom, you will find many applications. If you are a working mom with very little time, you may want to find this book in a library or borrow from a friend if you are interested in reading it. If mothers read this book, apply the teachings and pass them along to their children, the impact for Christ will be remarkable.
There are many resources available on the website where you can download a discussion study guide, become a fan on Facebook or follow on Twitter.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Moody Publishers, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The Missional Mom by Helen Lee is a new way of looking at motherhood and faith in the emergent faith of the 21st century. Lee has interviewed several mothers who have taken steps to live out their faith in very real ways, by moving into disadvantaged communities and making it their home, by traveling to other countries to minister to the needs of the poor, by adopting children from other countries to make their homes more open and welcoming, by opening their homes to strangers in need of hospitality, and many other ways. Each woman has listened to God's love in their hearts and are changing the world around them, as well as how their children view Christianity. Lee lays out the reasoning and Scripture to support these occasionally radical actions in a way that will inspire readers to stretch their own resources and hearts to meet the needs of their own community. Lee's writing is very conversational and friendly, but you can sense her excitement and devotion to the cause. She wants to win readers over to this way of thinking, because mothers often have far more influence than they perceive. She offers realistic advice for readers to implement their own change, but her primary encouragement is to listen to the nudges from the Lord to see if He may be speaking to you, especially after reading this book. This quote from Lee sums up the book well: Comfort is a spiritual gift God gives us, one with the missional purpose that we are to share it with others. Lee wants to help mom find their place in God's plan and to realize that that place just may be far bigger than they could ever imagine. It's a book filled with hope and inspiration.