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Passing the Baton The Priority of Children in the Local Church Timothy R. Nichols Assistant Professor Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary.

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Presentation on theme: "Passing the Baton The Priority of Children in the Local Church Timothy R. Nichols Assistant Professor Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary."— Presentation transcript:

1 Passing the Baton The Priority of Children in the Local Church Timothy R. Nichols Assistant Professor Rocky Mountain Bible College & Seminary

2 Fertile Soil: Receptivity of Children and Youth Where then should we begin to focus our energies? Historically, children followed by youth are the most receptive constituencies to the gospel. According to polling data collected by George Barna 43% of all Americans believe in Jesus Christ before the age of 13; 64% before the age of 18; and 77% before the age of 21. We recently conducted a survey of a church and discovered that it ranked consistently with the rest of the nation. The average age for a person to believe in Jesus Christ in that congregation is years % believed before the age of 18; 84% before the age of 23.

3 Therefore, children and youth are the most receptive people to the gospel. Children and youth seem to accept God’s grace most easily for what it is – a free gift. Our evangelistic efforts within that church and within that community must take advantage of this strategic opportunity. 7.74% did not report the age at which they believed. This includes a significant number of non- Christians who were visiting the day they conducted that survey.

4 Children Are By Far More Open To The Gospel Than Teenagers And Adults We discovered that the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior was 32% for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4% for those in the 13- to 18-age range; and 6% for people 19 or older. --George Barna, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions 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. -- George Barna

5 More than two out of every three 13-year-olds argue that they will not alter any of their core beliefs in the future. In other words, they are closed to learning new biblical insights or correction regarding erroneous perspectives. -- George Barna We find an astounding level of consistency between the religious beliefs of adults and children. This suggests that whatever beliefs a person embraces when he or she is young are not likely to change as the individual ages. -- George Barna Mark 10:14 “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

6 Children are Effective Evangelists We have discovered that peer evangelism among young children – one kid leading another kid to…a life- changing encounter with Jesus – is one of the most prolific and effective means of evangelism in the nation. – George Barna Every year, tens of thousands of parents are brought to faith in Christ because one of their children was so changed by his or her own relationship with the Lord that the parent could not ignore the power of Christ any longer…among those who have children…the largest share…select their church because of the quality of the children’s ministry. -- George Barna

7 Matthew 18:4 “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The research reinforces one simple but profound truth over and over again: If you want to have a lasting influence upon the world, you must invest in people's lives; and if you want to maximize that investment, then you must invest in those people while they are young. -- George Barna

8 In Their Children’s Ministry, Most Churches are Simply Going Through the Motions Like most adults, I have been aware of children, fond of them and willing to invest some resources in them… Yet the wisdom and necessity of seeing children as the primary focus of ministry never occurred to me. Almost every congregation asserts that ministry to young people is an important aspect of its mission. However…we found that most churches simply go through the motions. -- George Barna

9 Deuteronomy 6:4-6 “ ” “ Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 " And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. ”

10 Mark 10:13 Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Matthew 18:6 Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin [stumble], it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

11 Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. 11 For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? 13 And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”

12 The Problem Parents allowing children to decide for themselves whether or not they will attend church.

13 The magistrates of Bern in 1548 (general mandates of reform): “We are well aware of not only the transgression but also the contempt almost everywhere in our lands for preaching, catechisms, and instruction of the youth…” [Michael W. Bruning, Calvinism’s First Battleground: Conflict and Reform in the Pays de Vaud, (Springer), p.234]

14 We should view the church as a culture, not as some kind of religious social club where you can get free coffee and doughnuts on Sundays.

15 We should view worship as a gathering of a called out people coming together to praise God in the Holy of Holies, not as a gathering of disconnected individuals.

16 In worship, children hear, learn, and are helped to obey in the midst of the whole people of God.

17 The worship habits that parents instill in their children will usually be the habits their children carry into adulthood.

18 The Problem Parents wanting the church to be primarily a place of entertainment where their children’s consumer appetites can be fulfilled.

19 The church should bring children into an encounter with Jesus Christ.

20 The question to ask our children is not “Did you have fun at church today?”, but “What did you learn about Jesus today?”

21 The church must never, under any circumstance, be a hindrance to children coming to know Christ and His gospel.

22 Matthew 18:5-6 (ESV) 5. "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

23 How do we cause our children to stumble? 1.When we fail to take them to church. 2.When we constantly let them see everything take precedence over church. 3. When we teach them to think of the church as consumers instead of as worshipers of God. 4. When we let them hear us tear down the church.

24 How is Culture Passed Down? Mostly through PARENTS.

25 S. Michael Craven (The Center for Christ and Culture) citing a study conducted by the Swiss government: Mother and Father attend church regularly 74% of their children will end up attending church regularly or irregularly 25% of their children will end up not attending at all

26 S. Michael Craven (The Center for Christ and Culture) citing a study conducted by the Swiss government: Mother attends church regularly. Father does not attend church at all. 39% of their children will end up attending church regularly or irregularly 60% of their children will end up not attending at all

27 S. Michael Craven (The Center for Christ and Culture) citing a study conducted by the Swiss government: Father attends church regularly. Mother does not attend church at all. 66% of their children will end up attending church regularly or irregularly 34% of their children will end up not attending at all

28 How is Culture Passed Down? Songs Stories Games Indoctrination


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