I like statistics and I despise them. I say this because I am about to quote some statistics but want to clarify that I do not think they are 100% accurate, but more an indicator of things. It’s like the old adage “where there’s smoke there’s fire.” The information from these studies came from somewhere, so there’s bound to be some truth to them. Keep in mind, there are always exceptions. Thank God for this!
So here goes. Modern research indicates that what a person believes is locked in by the age of 13. (George Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions 2003) “What you believe at age 13 is pretty much what you’re going to die believing,” Barna said. Research compiled by his Barna Group shows that children between the ages of 5 and 13 have a 32 percent probability of accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. That likelihood drops to 4 percent for teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18, and ticks back up to 6 percent for adults older than 18.
THIRTEEN! I find this both scary and incredibly exciting! This means that parents, teachers and ministry leaders better take children’s ministry pretty seriously. It means that what we do has a deep impact; it’s meaningful. For me, this is awesome. I am not just some babysitter. I am making a difference in the spiritual welfare of a child of God! This statistic points to the fact that churches need to make children a priority. It does not mean run out and hire a children’s minister (although you may); rather it means to be intentional about what we teach and how we teach our children. We have a big job that is exciting and full of reward!
What does this mean for churches? it means we need to get our acts together. We need to be intentional in our design for reaching children (and their parents). We need to create a plan for how we are going to do this. We need to commit NOT to change God’s message, but find a way to get children interested in hearing God’s message. What doe kids enjoy doing? What gets them excited and invited their friends to come too? We should be thinking outside of the box, finding ways to get kids excited about the Word of God because it is truly far from boring! It’s all about how we share it.
Jesus understood people so he told stories, performed miracles and offered grace that wasn’t there before. Jesus also knew children and considered them important. We see this in Mark 10:13-16: People were bringing little children to Jesus. They wanted him to place his hands on them to bless them. But the disciples told them to stop. When Jesus saw this, he was angry. He said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t keep them away. God’s kingdom belongs to people like them. What I’m about to tell you is true. Anyone who will not receive God’s kingdom like a little child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms. He placed his hands on them to bless them.
How are we, as Christ’s church, going to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, spreading His message and raising kids for Christ? We will explore this very topic in a series of articles.