By Cailey Morgan
Recently during a Sunday gathering at Southside, we were invited to share with the congregation who it was that introduced us to Jesus and when we chose to follow Him. It was a beautiful time of testimony that allowed each of us to reflect on our own faith journey and celebrate God’s goodness to others.
The thing that stuck with me most was the consistent pattern of when people came to faith. Like me and my brothers, the overwhelming majority of people in my congregation came to know Christ before the age of 20; in fact most between the ages of 4 and 10. Almost everyone cited parents, grandparents and children’s ministry leaders such as youth pastors and camp counselors as the people who had led them to faith in Jesus.
While informal, I think this survey offers two key points of encouragement that my church needs to hear, and maybe yours too:
1. We as adults need to introduce our friends to Christ. Right now at Southside, church growth mostly comes from Christian families moving from another church to ours. And while we need to celebrate the opportunity to disciple new people and be built up by the gifts they have to offer, it was convicting to me that there is not a single person in my congregation who could say, “Cailey introduced me to Jesus.” Are you in the same boat?
We’ve got to do better. I’ve got to do better.
2. We need to take more seriously the faith of our kids and the kids in our neighbourhoods. What a great opportunity to see our neighbourhood changed! Since the majority of believers come to faith before age 10, what if the majority of the church’s effort went into reaching and mentoring kids? Here’s a few ways that could happen:
- Help parents disciple their kids. Parents, your home is your mission field and the main training ground for young disciples. You are responsible for your child’s physical and spiritual growth and for training them to bring their friends to faith. I know you don’t take that task lightly.However, you aren’t alone. We all need to participate in the growth of the kids in our congregation and neighbourhoods. What if there was teaching for parents to support them as they minister in their homes? What if every child and youth had a mentoring “big brother” or “big sister” from the family of God who took an interest in their lives and helped love them and their friends into God’s Kingdom?
- Allocate church resources to intentionally reach young people. If the church’s job is to go and make disciples, and if most disciples are made when they are children, why are children’s pastors often part-time or non-existent? Why does children’s Sunday school happen in “the back” of our church buildings? Why are our main outreaches targeting adults? Why aren’t there Wednesday evening small groups for kids and youth? The fact is, our churches are adult-centric. Maybe we should consider what a child-centric, or at least family-centric, congregation would look like?
Maybe I’ve been overstating this, but I think we need to seriously consider the ramifications of the fact that kids aren’t just the future of the church. They’re the now.
What do you think? How can we ensure that kids are being brought up in daily discipleship? Are there opportunities to see Kingdom growth among the young people in your neighbourhood?
PS: Sherry Bennett (Director of CBWC’s Children and Families Ministries) teaches a one-day seminar called It Takes a Village: Nurturing Children In Faith for A Lifetime which tackles some of the very issues I’ve been grappling with this week: how do parents and the faith community help children discover and grow a deep and meaningful faith? Contact Sherry at email@example.com to discuss options for training in your community.