We’re in Big Trouble!

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I’m sure you’ve heard it. You may have said it yourself: “Kids are not the church of tomorrow. They’re the church of today.” And I understand the sentiment—we need to take our children seriously now and not put them in a holding pattern of spirituality until they get older.

However, if this is true, then we’re in big trouble.

Jonathan Morrow, wrote in “Gen Z, a Barna Report,” With the best of intentions, we bubble-wrap our kids and create Disney World-like environments for them in our churches, and then wonder why they have no resilience in faith or life. Students are entertained but not prepared. They’ve had a lot of fun but are not ready to lead.”

Pastor Sam Luce, now the lead pastor at Redeemer Church in Utica, NY, spent 18 years in children’s ministry. He was interviewed in a research study on Children’s Ministry in a New Reality published by AWANAS and The Barna Group. He said of our teaching content:

“We have created a faith that is simplified. It’s a faith that kids grow out of instead of a robust faith they grow into. Because of the desire to make things understandable, relatable, and relevant to kids, we have removed the mystery. We’ve removed the paradox. When they bump up against something difficult, the simple Jesus they learned about when they were five can no longer help them in the complex world of their 20s, and so we inoculate them from the gospel.”

Church Attendance

According to research by The Unstuck Group, ChurchLeaders, and the Barna Group, the average Christian child attends church 1.7 times a month.

Our kids today may know the Bible stories, but they don’t know the Bible.

They know a lot about Jesus, a little bit about God the Father, but almost nothing about the Holy Spirit.

Only 1/3 of the children who graduate from our Sunday Schools are born again. [Barna]

Anecdotally, when I speak in Pentecostal/Charismatic churches and ask for a show of hands, only about 25% of the children claim to be filled with the Spirit and speak in tongues.

What Have We Been doing?

If a child is born into our churches, starts in the nursery, goes through our preschool ministry, children’s ministry, and finally the youth group, and yet after eighteen years, they:

1. Are not born again and have no interest in being so,

2. Are not baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues,

3. Have not been water baptized,

4. Do not have a consistent devotional life of scripture reading and prayer,

5. Have never read either the Old or New Testament in full,

6. Do not know how to hear God’s voice

7. Do not know how to be led by the Spirit of God,

8. Do not know how to heal the sick in Jesus’ name,

9. Have no idea what the gifts of the Spirit are, how to recognize them, or how to operate in them,

10. Do not know how to pray effectively over anything other than a meal,

11. Have no clue what prayer is and why it is vital to the Christian lifestyle,

12. Cannot tell you what they believe as a Christian or why, i.e., defend their faith against other worldviews,

13. Do not know what it means to be a worshiper of God (hint: it’s not just singing songs…)

14. Have no idea how to share their faith with others and don’t have the remotest idea what the Great Commission is or their responsibility in it,

15. Do not have even a basic biblical worldview without which you cannot distinguish truth from false beliefs….. (Barna: only 4% of children under 13 in our churches have a biblical worldview)

. …THEN WHAT IN THE WORLD HAVE WE BEEN DOING WITH OUR TIME? If the United States Army can take an 18-year-old kid and turn him into a fighting soldier ready to defend our country and possibly be willing to give up his life in just ten weeks, then what is taking us so long to make committed disciples of our kids and teens who are in every way soldiers in the army of God? The things I just listed above are the BASICS of CHRISTIANITY!

(The above quotes are documented in my new book THE NEW WINESKIN OF CHILDREN’S MINISTRY. You can get your copy here: https://kidsinministry.org/…/the-new-wineskin-of…/ )

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