We hear it a lot in ministry...most people who are following Christ made the decision to do so before the age of...blank. The most recent numbers, I hear, came out to 75% before they are 13 years old, and close to 90% by the time they are 18. That says to me that children's ministry automatically steps to the front as the key evangelistic ministry in the church.
I wonder if a sweeping review of our church budgets would reflect this urgent truth? I wonder if a sweeping review of our church vision statements (goals, programs, strategies, or whatever catch phrase you may have glommed onto), would prove that we get the enormous impact of these statistics? In the priorities of your church, where does "Children's Ministry" fall?
It seems these questions should be paramount in our leadership planning and vision-casting:
How can we minister to the children of our community in the most effective way?
Are we opening the way to Jesus for the kids in our community, or are we hindering them from coming to him with our own rules and expectations?
Is our church kid-friendly?
Do our classrooms look sanitary or age-appropriate?
Are our teachers filling a spot for us, or do they love these kids?
How often are we calling the kids to follow Jesus?
How much money and time can we free up to reach more children with the love of Jesus?
I am not recommending avoiding or abolishing other ministries for the sake of children's ministry, but if your people are stretched beyond your church's resources and you have to cut something, DON'T CUT CHILDREN'S MINISTRY!
I know some of you think that a blog should be about societal trends and finding contemporary new ways to reach lost people. Let's address that way of thinking and the topic I have introduced, here.
Single moms, child abuse, divorce in the church and outside the church at an even level, educational failings, teenage girls becoming moms, the church's anti-abortion stand, the unchurched nature of our current society, homosexual "marriages", two working parents, latchkey kids, child abuse, blended families, child pornography on the internet.
Are we addressing these societal trends from the child's view of things? We often try to deal with the adults in these issues, but what is the church doing to reach out to these kids who are suffering from their parents' bad choices, or the failure of government to educate them or keep them safe? Does the church have a role in this? Can we? Should we?
Most likely by the time a child is thirteen years old, she has had offers for some kind of drugs, some sort of sexual behavior and/or some form of minor crime. And most likely by this time, they have decided what they think of Jesus. What we used to think of as High School issues are now issues in the 5th grade or younger. We don't want it to happen or be this way, but it is, and turning a blind eye to this truth doesn't help those children.
If you don't have many children in your church, that doesn't mean that this isn't your issue. It means you need to give that much more to the cause of reaching children for Christ