Are We Preparing The Next Generation?
Transforming Africa’s Children Through Faith.
My name is Noxolo Kanjana and I am a student at George Whitefield College. This year I enrolled in the children’s ministry stream of the higher certificate in theology, although it was not long ago that my attitude towards children’s ministry was very different to what it is now. I must confess that previously I didn’t see much value in children’s ministry. I was of the opinion that it was of little importance, and that the focus should be on teaching and reaching adults. I thought that children should only get input once they were old enough to join ‘proper’ church, and that the purpose of Sunday School was just to keep the children busy. Fortunately, my understanding of the value of children’s ministry has been transformed in the last year and for this I am very thankful to God.
Today I want to write about why the church should invest in children’s ministry and to do this, I want to present you with some statistical facts about children and evangelism. According to statistics from the US Census board of 2011 , one third of the world’s population consists of children under the age of 15 years, and in Africa the percentage is even higher due to realities such as teenage pregnancy, unhealthy adult lifestyles and HIV. Children make up half of our population in Africa!
According to further statistics, 80% of committed Christians make the decision to convert and become followers of Christ under the age of 18, and most of this percentage falls under the age of 14! This means that CHILDREN are the ones who are making most of the decisions to accept Jesus as their Saviour. Children are a sure harvest, and it has been proven that their minds are far more receptive than adults – they are open and pliable and are still forming worldviews, and if we do not fill their minds with Christ, the media and technology will fill their receptive minds and hearts with things that don’t bring glory to God. We should learn from our education system, where successful graduates from our universities have been raised through quality education beginning from the foundation phase (pre-school and the start of primary school). We need to be laying down a good, Christ-centred foundation as early as possible, so that we can expect to have more future Christ-centred adults. We can change the future of our church through our children!
So how does the church respond to this scientifically proven information? We need to start investing in children’s ministry by formally training our children workers in our churches. The truth is, our children’s workers are communicating with our future – they are so important! I know in our African context, education is costly and that means that we can’t afford to take every children’s worker to be formally trained. But as much as we can’t compromise in having an under-prepared pastor lead a church and handle the Word, we should also not compromise on having at least one trained children’s worker in a church. A Sunday school teacher is not the equivalent of a children’s worker. A trained children’s worker can build capacity in the local church, can train Sunday school teachers and aid the parents to communicate the Gospel better to their children. It is therefore vital that the church have a fully equipped and passionate children’s worker who can fulfil this very important role.
Another reason I see children’s ministry as the most strategic way to spread the gospel is that children have ways of inspiring and challenging their parents – trust me, I have two kids! In our kids’ club and holiday clubs held in our churches, often the kids will invite their friends. This results in the children evangelising to their friends and it is also a great opportunity for their friends’ parents, who may not attend the church, to be exposed to the Gospel. Therefore we need to see the strategic importance of children’s ministry in church growth and we need to ensure that our children’s workers are trained and capable.
Let’s not lose our next generation, they are counting on us! The book of Judges 2:10-13 shows us how the generation following Joshua’s generation didn’t know the Lord or what he had done for the Israelites and this ultimately led them to worshipping false gods. It is our responsibility to pass on the true Gospel to our children. Therefore the church must invest in children’s workers so as to be trained with sound theology and a good understanding of children in their different stages of development. This can prevent a number of unsaved adults and enable our ministers to do less work explaining the Gospel to future generations and to focus more on spiritual maturity. Don’t lose out on evangelising and equipping the most dynamic group for winning souls!
 U.S. Census Bureau, 2011. www.census.gov/data.html
 Barna Research Group, 2004. https://www.barna.com/research/evangelism-is-most-effective-among-kids/