I was saved as a child at the age of 12 at summer church camp. Through the years, I’ve come to realize that there are many people who did the same thing and decided to follow Jesus as a child. Statistics say that nearly 80% of people in church today decided to follow Jesus before the age of 18 and 50% of them came to know Him before the age of 12. It actually becomes harder and harder for a person to decide to follow Christ after the age of 18.
This probably shocks some of you when it really shouldn’t surprise us at all. In Matt. 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus was telling us something very important in this passage about childhood.
There is a range of time in a person’s life, usually around the ages of 4-14, in which they are more open and moldable to learning, which is what is necessary to trust God. It’s when people are forming their understanding of others, the world around them, love, and of God. It’s actually when things become rooted in our hearts and if we plant the wrong things, unfortunately they become very difficult to uproot as an adult.
I don’t think this season of time is by accident. When God said, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”, I think He really meant everything. It’s during this season that we should truly concentrate on leading others to Christ. What we do during this time frame in a person’s life very well may be the most important thing a church does. God intends for us to win people in the time of their youth when their hearts are young and sensitive. Instead, much of what we are apt to do is let the season pass and then work incredibly hard to try and win people to Christ in their later years, as adults. We miss the season in which to shape the future of the church in children’s ministry.
What would the next generation look like if the church wholeheartedly invested (resources, time, money, service, etc) in its youngest members?