CHURCH & MINISTRY
By MeLissa LeFleur
I started serving regularly in children's ministry when I was a child. My parents managed a Christian camp and the importance of children's ministry was instilled in me from an early age. Over my lifetime, I have often fielded the question, "Why do you help in children's ministry when you don't have kids yourself?" The answer is simple. Of all the age groups, children are the most ready to listen to God's voice.
Studies have shown that people are most open to the gospel between the ages of 4-14. In fact, nearly 85 percent of people in the USA who make a decision for Christ do so between the ages of 4-14.  Barna's stats differ, but the point remains the same. He says, "…the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior was 32 percent for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4 percent for those in the 13-18 range; and 6 percent for people 19 or older. In other words, if people do not embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior before they reach their teenage years, the chance of their doing so at all is slim."
The message is clear. Children absorb biblical information easily and that absorption peaks during the preteen years. In order to reach them, those childhood years are critical. Children are moldable, like little piles of clay. They are formulating their perceptions of God, the world, people, and so on. The church's question needs to be, "What can we do to help them form the right perceptions?"
Don't misunderstand. I don't think our churches should only focus on children. The church should not revolved around one certain demographic. Instead, the church should be God-focused — bringing each person (young or old) to a saving knowledge of Christ and making them disciples. Let's not forget about anyone. If God has given you gifts to reach teens, serve Him faithfully. If God has given you a heart for our wise older people, serve Him faithfully. For me, God has given me a passion for the kiddos and I want to serve Him faithfully.
Even if your passion and gifts are with another demographic, reach out to a child. You don't need to teach the 4-year-old Sunday School class on Sunday morning! I'm not skilled in that either! But we can all pay attention to the needs of the kids in our lives. Are they asking questions? Does your neighbor's kid need a smile and a wave? Befriend the parents and look for ways to serve the family. Don't ignore the kids in your life.
I look back on the "kids" God has brought along my path. Those kids have grown up to be missionaries in dangerous lands, moms who are raising their children to love God, soldiers serving combat, pastors faithfully overseeing their flocks, campus ministry leaders, and business men and women who are lights in their dark offices. The list goes on and on.
We have these children for a very short time. What can God do during this time to change the course of their lives?
1. Children in Crisis, Dr Dan Brewster, 2005.
2. Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna, 2003.
Image: MeLissa and JT (Kersley Fitzgerald's son) at the AWANA Grand Prix
Tags: Christian-Life | Ministry-Church | Personal-Life | Witnessing-Evangelism
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