Many churches put a huge amount of their efforts towards missions. They focus on great things like planting churches, evangelizing to neighborhoods, and sending out missionaries all over the world. But the 10-40 window is not the only window that should be focused on, because one mission field that is oftentimes overlooked is the children’s ministry right in front of them.
Back in 2015, the National Association of Evangelicals discovered from one of their surveys that 63% of Christians accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior between the ages of 4 and 14-years-old. This information transformed many leaders’ perspectives of children’s ministry. When the Bible talks about the harvest being plentiful in Matthew 9:37, it is not just referring to people over the age of 21. Now the children’s ministry wasn’t seen as just a necessary department that existed to help support other more important missions. Instead, this came to be called the 4-14 Window and was recognized as a key time frame of opportunity for churches to introduce a solid Christian foundation in the lives of their children that is more likely to have a lasting impact.
It can’t be assumed that each child in a Sunday School classroom is saved. All people, young and old, need the gospel of Jesus Christ. If churches don’t recognize the focus and effort that needs to be directed toward making their children’s ministry effective and thriving, they are missing out on the mission field in their own building.
Not only is this 4-14 Window the time when young children are more likely to embrace Christianity, it is also the timeframe during which they will form first impressions and emotional connections with the church that can potentially last throughout their entire life and shape the way they think of the church. This is important to remember as well because sometimes a child might not accept Christ between the ages of 4 and 14, and they might walk away from the church entirely for a while. But one of the factors that is key when it comes to determining whether or not they will one day return, is the quality of their first impressions when they were younger. Churches should never underestimate the importance and impact that kindness and solid teaching can have in a child’s life. It is these things the children could remember when they are older, and they just might be what brings them back.
Children within the 4-14 Window are also bridges to their families, and a thriving children’s program in a church expresses growth, life, and overall health in the church that will attract families in the community who are looking for a church to call home.
Since it is children between the ages of 4 and 14 that are more likely to embrace the gospel, we have to make sure that children’s ministry is not overshadowed by other kinds of missions. A thriving children’s department with spiritual development and growth are signs that the church is healthy in the way that it should be.
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