May's Recommended Resource
You remember that story from Sunday's sermon about the guy who made his family eat nothing but rice and beans for a month in a "ruthless quest to be more thankful"? This is the book by that guy. And while it isn't about thankfulness (it's about missional-living), I think you'll be grateful for having read it anyways.
While Caesar Kalinowski (Small Is Big, Slow Is Fast) doesn't run in our theological circles, he has a firm grasp on the gospel and this book will help you take some of your and your family's first steps toward living out the implications of that gospel message without totally overwhelming you. In fact, I suspect that reading this book will help you to see that living a gospel-oriented, mission-minded life might actually take some of the pressure off!
Caesar's plan for the book begins with a look at his own story and moves toward an invitation to you and your family to look at your own lives and community through the lens of God's mission in the world. "While this is not specifically a book about personal spiritual growth, we will begin with how you lead the person staring back at you in the mirror, how you personally lead a life that is on mission with God. We will dig deeply into how the good news of the gospel motivates us toward a lifestyle of discipleship. And I will focus on starting and leading healthy gospel communities that live on mission—starting with your own family and moving out from there" (21). Zeroing in on mission, he shows how each of our families and communities can begin "making disciples who make disciples, as a family of missionaries, together" (27).
Before you panic about Casear sending you to Peru for missions trips (though God might!), remember the title of the book—Small Is Big, Slow Is Fast. One of the book's more profound insights is focusing the missional mindset on the good works that God has prepared for you from beforehand (Eph. 2:10). That is, where in your life is God already giving you opportunities for service and love? That's the question Caesar gets you to ask, and the reason it is profound is because it doesn't ask you to compare your life to anyone else's; it doesn't call you to measure yourself by the standards of the culture (bigger, faster, louder); it doesn't even ask you to see if this meets some standard you've set for yourself about what's good enough. Instead, "Start with your own family and close friends and trust that God will show you which people he has chosen for you, those he has called you to walk alongside and disciple" (37). Caesar calls these "people of peace," the people who are already in your geographical and temporal space with whom you feel some connection. My guess is that focusing on these people alone would be more than enough for you and your family.
Without shrinking the mission of God, Caesar shows you how God is calling you to play a meaningful part in it. The hard part and the way that you make room in your life for developing relationships with these "people of peace" is thinking through your and your family's priorities. "What are the 'good' things in your life that tend to take priority over Jesus and his call?" (47). That's a tough question to ask. But one of the better things about this book is that, even though it ultimately aims to challenge you to live more gospel-centered, mission-minded lives, it feels less like a challenge and more like an invitation, a promising opportunity.
One word of caution. While Caesar doesn't outright dismiss Sunday services, he does suggest strongly that his version of missional communities is the church, and that Sunday gatherings are unnecessary. God is clearly at work through Caesar's life and ministry, but here we would part company with him. With that, you can skip the last chapter. Nevertheless, don't be pushed off the book on account of it. It's well worth the read.