Book Review: Missional Mom by Helen Lee

This week, I hope to share reviews of two books I’ve read recently which I believe contain very different ideas about the ministry of motherhood. I hope you’ll benefit from hearing about them. Here’s the first… 

Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home & in the World

When I first saw the cover of Missional Mom by Helen Lee, I was truly excited about having the chance to read the entire book. Based on the book’s title, subtitle, and back cover, I had the impression that Missional Mom would call attention to the vital role that motherhood plays in changing the world for Christ. What I was surprised to find, however, is that the book actually focused very little on the ministry of motherhood at all.

What Is a Missional Mom?

In the introduction, Helen Lee discusses the feelings of frustration, purposelessness, and despair that many women seem to experience once they have children. Lee set off to discover if missional living was the missing key for these moms. She spent the next year searching out women she calls “missional moms” and concluded that “Ultimately, mothers who choose a missional lifestyle have found the secret to the conundrum many mothers experience: that living missionally brings a profound sense of heavenly affirmation and peace.”

Lee goes on in the rest of the book to explain the distinctives of missional moms: they join with God in His mission to redeem lost humanity by living counterculturally, they make evangelism part of their everyday life, and they educate themselves and then seek to meet the needs of people close to home and around the world.

What I Enjoyed

Lee is incredibly passionate about encouraging women to take seriously their primary calling to love and know God by living in obedience to the Great Commission. She challenges women to resist cultural pressures that would motivate them to isolate themselves and their children in search of security, bow to materialism in search of comfort, or to idolize their children’s achievement and success in search of happiness. What Lee encourages moms to do instead is to sacrifice and push themselves outside of their comfort zones in order to advance God’s mission of redeeming the lost.

As you read Missional Mom, you simply can’t ignore Lee’s love for the Lord and those in need. Her enthusiasm and desire to honor the Great Commandment and Great Commission are obvious throughout the book, and I personally found myself challenged to evaluate my own life and seek more opportunities to help the hurting and reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What’s Missing

In spite of the many good things said in Missional Mom, my greatest concern about the book, as I referred to earlier, is what the book doesn’t say about motherhood. Although moms are mentioned on nearly every page, Lee says relatively little about the ministry of motherhood itself and seems to put the focus of missional living on those outside of the home.

Even in the eighth chapter “The Missional Mom Creates Missional Families,” Lee still neglects to address what the Bible has to say about motherhood or parenting. She recommends resisting materialism and showing generosity and hospitality as methods of creating a missional family. These are good things, of course, but when Lee suggested that moms discuss with their children fair trade coffee, global warming, and how wasting energy affects polar bears, I failed to see how these topics related to the Gospel and missional living.

What the Scripture Teaches

Unfortunately, the major impression I’m concerned readers will take away from Missional Mom is that a mother’s ministry to people outside her home is more important and more in line with the Great Commission than is her ministry to her husband and children. Biblically speaking, this is simply not the case. Paul had not forgotten the Great Commission when he instructed older women to teach younger women “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:4-5). In fact, he explained that moms should live this way so that God’s Word would not be dishonored (2:5).

When a woman fears the Lord, loves her husband and children, “looks well to the ways of her household” (Prov. 31:27), partners with her husband to diligently teach their children God’s commandments (Deut. 6:7) and to train them in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4), she is living missionally. A woman’s family is her primary mission field and the work she does to make disciples in her own home is no less important than the work done by a missionary on a foreign field.

These are vital points that I believe are missing in Lee’s approach to missional motherhood. You simply cannot accurately portray Christian motherhood without first explaining what God has clearly revealed in His Word regarding the topic.

In Conclusion

I appreciate Helen Lee’s desire to inspire moms to share God’s heart for the lost and needy and take the Great Commission seriously. As moms who have children living at home, we must ensure that we don’t allow our primary mission field to become our only mission field, and Missional Mom contains some helpful advice on how to avoid that error by creatively responding to the needs of the world around us.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a blogger review 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