Thursday, March 13, 2014

It’s not rocket science (or is it?) by Jill Kayser

I was teaching at a Fresh Expressions course (Mission Shaped Ministries) in Auckland the other night on the topic “Children and all ages” (go figure!)  The material we teach is given to us, but fortunately we are allowed a bit of “poetic license”.  I was irritated that in an hour and a half presentation promoting all-age Fresh Expressions there was no reasons given as to why children offer such a wonderful (and obvious) opportunity to churches wanting to reach the “unchurched”.

I’ve been ranting about this for 10 years now….so off I went again while course participants furiously scribbled down my “rocket science”.

Why should we include children?
  • ·       “Children are the church of today, not the future.” (John Westerhoff, Will our children have faith?)  Children need to be recognised as vibrant , life-giving participants in our churches today!   Tomorrow (or in the future) we may not have a church (if we keep marginalising children) and our children will very likely not stick around if we don’t truly value, love, involve and disciple them today.
  • ·         “The single remaining common interest or entrance point for non-churched people in the life of the church is children…we have a wide-open door to almost every family in every community worldwide when we love and serve their kids.”  (Bill Hybels).  And, “theunchurched’ are open to participating in all age church led activities and worship.” (AC Neilson: Attracting New Zealanders to Spiritual Life 2002).
  • ·         Children are more open.  They don’t hold negative stereotypes of the church and are excited by new experiences like all age interactive worship. 
  •           And children are more open to the gospel.  According to the Barna Research Group 32% of people come to faith as children (5 – 12 years),  4% as teens (13 -18 years) and  6% as adults.   By the age of 13 spirituality is largely set in place.
  •           And in more recently Australasian research undertaken by children’s ministry legend David Goodwin for his master’s thesis “Lost in Transition – or not”, 80% of the adults in our churches today came to faith as children and participated in some form of ministry (most likely Sunday School) offered by the church.
So what we do on Sundays really matters.  And every other day of the week too, when we have opportunities to connect with children and share the love of Christ.  I never thought of mainly music, kids club, holiday programmes as Fresh Expressions of church, but of course they are.  Every day of the week in New Zealand and beyond, thousands of “unchurched” children and families are meeting Jesus in the Christians who serve and love them (or not!).  

You can buy David Goodwin’s book “Lost in Transition – or not” or download a free copy of his thesis.  Contact

For children crossing the bridge from no church to church
is an exciting adventure!

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