Don't Forget the Kids? Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Don’t Forget the Kids! In 2003, George Barna wrote a book that redefined the Children's Ministries movement. “Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions” identified the following: 1) Children are more likely to make a decision to follow Christ before they reach their teenage years. 2) Unless we disciple a child before the age of 14 we will face an uphill battle after that! 3) Our moral compass is set by the age of 9. The chances of changing after that is slim! We tend to go after the slim pickings and leave the harvest (Children) to rot in the field. 4) Children are more likely to adopt the faith of their parents than any other influencer. We can’t expect schools or churches to make up for a lack of authentic Christianity at home. Many books and a huge amount of research have since come on the scene that backs up what Barna found. Are we at all surprised that modern research backs up the ancient wisdom found in the Bible. After all, it's in Scripture that we read: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 Do we focus on this Biblical truth? Have we implemented the lessons from the research that follows from it? A whole generation of children have been born since 2003 and are now teenagers. Have we kept them? Or have we continued to focus our resources and our energies on bringing older people to the faith, and losing our own children? This question should shape our corporate structure, strategies and spending. Have we focused effectively? I don’t believe we have. Most of our church budgetary spending goes to youth and adult ministries. We continue to begin discipleship too late. We continue to discuss discipleship from an evangelistic perspective – reaching the people out there. But the Great Commission begins at home. Often we are out trying to win the recalcitrant masses to the detriment of our own children and marriages. I have seen it too many times. We continue to promote discipleship models that are based in the church or school. We often see children and children's ministries in our churches and in other levels of power as a women's thing -leaving the dads out of the picture. Reaching our children is the most important thing both parents can do – and like most things in the family, it is best done as a team. Parents sometimes say they're too busy to disciple their children. But if we’re too busy for our own children, what does that say about our skewed priorities? We can’t just send our children to church school and Sabbath School and expect someone else to do what we have failed to. Yes, those are important to support parents work of spiritual leadership, but they are not substitutes for parents’ leadership. When it comes to discipleship, incarnation trumps proclamation every time. (Deuteronomy 6:4-12). Discipleship is 24/7 living and it has to be in the home. Children need a mum and a dad who will show them what living as a Christian looks like. It's time to focus all that we do on the home. Unless the church is equipping the home we are not doing discipleship. Let’s not let another thirteen years go by and lose another half of our children! Every church leader, every pastor and every parent should read “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions.” The Bible-based, research confirmed, answers are in our hands. It’s up to us to implement them. Our mission is discipleship. Let’s focus our resources on our children. Because children nine and younger are most ripe for the seeds of the gospel. Jesus focused on children. We need to, too. Daron gets off his soap box and refocuses on children.