Posted by: sdunnpastor | April 8, 2011

REACHING YOUR UNCHURCHED NEIGHBORS-STARTING WITH THE KIDS

For many years conventional wisdom was that if you got the parents (particularly the father), you would get the kids; the whole family. That was coupled with the thought that when young adult who had wandered from the church finally had kids, they would be back in church at least for their childrens’  sake. In 2011 that is an unwise assumption.

The reality is that many adults are so preoccupied with their personal issues and individual spiritual quest that they make decisions like going to church without really factoring in their children’s needs.  Church is not essential to them and so attempts to connect with a church on Sunday morning (the chief leisure day in our culture) are sporadic at best. If they chose to go to church on Sunday to deal with their spiritual hunger, the kids get to go along for the ride.  More often than not, in a culture where are increasing number of adults have no Christian roots, going to church is not even in the equation.

So how do you break that pattern? Here is one of the keys. Start with the kids. I am not proposing buses or bribes; but quality ministry that aims at connecting the kids to God and equipping them to be disciples.

There are really two generations to consider here. Children, elementary age and younger; but particularly elementary age children and Teens particularly those 7th-10th grade. Do not make the mistake that children simply want to play and have no deep spiritual needs.  Do not make the mistake that teens need only to be taught to cope with life by equipping them with Christian answers aimed at persuading them to resist the temptations of the world. Children want to serve Jesus and to understand what grown up Christians sometimes take for granted.  Teens want to save the life of their peers and to develop a passionate love for God. Those basic desires need to be nurtured by the church so that these kids will become authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. Children are often hungry to learn.  Youth are passionately looking for a way to live a life that matters.

A ministry that is safe and open for youth and children–a ministry aimed at making disciples instead of simply protecting from the world is often the front door to reaching your unchurched neighbors.

In future posts we will share how that strategy has been implemented at the Church of God of Landisville.  God has blessed us with more than 50 teens and older children who have made commitments to Christ in the last year, who have become part of the deeper journey as disciples.  Most of these kids are our unchurched neighbors. And now we have unchurched parents beginning to check us out to find out what has captured the hearts of those children.

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