85% of the people who decide to follow Jesus do so between the ages of 4 and 14. Children Matter. Small Matters. I have the privilege of leading Stadia… an organization that won’t stop until every child has a church. I believe that the church must be intentional in the way they care for and minister to children. And, I believe that there are four major shifts that need to occur in churches to help with that.
1. Shift from: “We can do it and you can help” to “You can do it and we can help” As parents (and as people investing in the lives of children), it is our responsibility to show children our faith. The church was never intended to hire professionals to show our children what faith looks like. The role of the church is to come alongside parents and support them as they teach their children. A “regular attender” child will spend about 40 hours in church a year. Parents will have about 3000 hours with their children a year.
2. Shift from “Children’s Ministry as a support program to develop relationships with parents as a way of increasing church attendance” to “Children’s Ministry as a team that genuinely cares for children and students” If we are going to have churches that intentionally care for and minister to children, then we need to reassign our value of children in churches. Children are not a means to ultimately growing church attendance, they are people who are important to the heart of God. If a church truly embraces this idea, there should be a waiting list of people wanting to serve in Children’s Ministry.
3. Shift from “Age Segregated” to “Age Integrated” In The Message, Matthew 19:13-15 it says, One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them away. But Jesus intervened: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these…” Let’s try to be more like Jesus…welcoming children into our presence and blessing them, instead of shooing them away. There are appropriate and meaningful ways of including children in nearly every aspect of church.
4. Shift from “Children receiving” to “Children giving” Do not underestimate the power of children. They are capable. Capable of praying, mentoring, giving and loving. In my own life, I have watched my children pray for me as I leave for a business trip, I have watched my friend’s kids help lead middle school camps and baptize their friends and I have watched a group of 10 students raise $80,000 to plant a church. Do not underestimate the power of children.