"I wish your eyes would light up like that when you talk about becoming a mom."

My husband's words were piercing. We had been discussing a potential future in overseas missions, and the prospect of being a world-changer for Jesus had become more exciting to me than the baby already in my womb.

Like many young Christians, I grew up in a church culture that emphasized foreign missions and certain exciting aspects of the Christian life. Today's church presents a lively and passion-filled message to youth, encouraging them to serve around the world and take up vocational ministries. "To the nations!" is their battlecry.

We see churches growing to serve and mobilize young believers in bigger, more powerful ways than ever before. They plan short-term mission trips for youth during school vacations, and some even offer programs for high school graduates to spend a gap year as a missionary in another country before college. Additionally, countless summer camps and conferences regularly gather Christian youth together on a large scale. The two Passion conferences I attended were worshipful, mobilizing, and beneficial. I know that God has used these kinds of ministries to reach hundreds of thousands of young people like me.

Yet, as young, married Christians seeking God's will one step at a time, my husband and I found ourselves announcing "We're pregnant!" instead of "We're moving to Africa!"

My son was born when I was 19, and we remained involved in our church and faithfully attended a weekly college-age small group. However, since the church structure did not organically integrate our lives with people outside our age group, we sort of fell through the cracks. No one brought us a meal when our son was born, and we almost felt like we had to fend for ourselves as we figured out marriage and parenting.

I couldn't help but wonder what the church's support would have been like if we were serving overseas instead of beginning to raise a family at home. It seemed like loving missions and quoting dead theologians was cool, but starting families and feeding babies was not.

A 2012 Barna study found that only 22 percent of youth pastors in Protestant churches intentionally expose their students to healthy families in the church as a major part of their ministry strategy. Yet, nearly all of these students will find themselves as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers one day. They need to be ready.

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"The argument for many family ministry advocates is that adolescents need to have a tangible model of what they should be shooting for later in life: loving, forgiving relationships expressed in the context of a family," said Barna's David Kinnaman.

Churches can no longer assume that students already recognize the value of the family, or that they know how to serve one another even in very basic ways. Alongside our efforts to inspire young people to do "big things" for Christ, we need to teach them to uphold "boring" things like the vital gift of hospitality. If it's not taught in their own homes, how are they going to learn about possibly the best way to interact with the lost and with fellow believers? The Acts 2 model of breaking bread together in homes will one day have to mean more for students than going to IHOP with friends after church.

Churches can help young adults see the value of the family in the context of missional living. The "missional community" model of small groups can promote a more balanced vision of the Christian life and offer practical ways to serve one another. In my current church, these groups frequently eat together at parks or host parties in homes, inviting neighbors to join. Plus, bringing together people from a range of life stages allows older women to get involved with younger women, as prescribed in Titus 2. Such opportunities for relationship-building with each other and with nonbelievers show young people that motherhood and fatherhood can be a door rather than an obstacle to ministry.

In Master Plan of Evangelism, Robert Coleman asserts through much scriptural evidence that the primary way Jesus evangelized the nations was through the discipleship of only 12 men (and more closely, three); he reached the many by discipling the few. While plenty of single people agree with this, Jesus' model for evangelism might only inform their view of missions or discipleship within the church.

Young moms like me see how strategies like that affirm motherhood as humbly and powerfully following the ministry model of Jesus. Every day mothers will have an audience to whom we can preach of the tender saving mercies of Jesus...even if that audience is a playgroup or, for a season, just a one-year-old with an appetite for crayons.

Sarah Edwards, the wife of preacher Jonathan Edwards, was featured in Noël Piper's Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God. By the time a longitudinal study on their descendants was published in 1900, Piper found that Jonathan and Sarah's 11 children had gone on to produce a U.S. Vice President, three U.S. Senators, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 66 physicians, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers, and 100 missionaries. Also, members of the family wrote 135 books.

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Even if we exhausted our own abilities to serve the Lord in our lifetime, we could never do for the world and the kingdom what our families—what our children and their children and their children—will go on to do.

In Luke 13:19, Jesus says this about the kingdom of God:

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.

As we prepare our students for being agents of massive, earth-shattering revival around the world, let us also remember that Jesus says the kingdom will grow slowly, even subtly, from something seemingly insignificant, like a tree from a seed...and like families. Let us encourage and disciple the young women in our congregations to be moms. Those years of diaper-changing, tantrum-disciplining, and marriage-stretching are investments in kingdom business with a return that the investor-moms will never be able to comprehend.

Hope Henchey lives in the suburbs of Tampa, Florida with her husband Peter and one-year-old son, Stephen. They love being actively involved at Covenant Life Church of Tampa and are expecting their second child in December. Hope enjoys studying theology, learning to be frugal, advocating home birth, and blogging at Recovering Womanhood.