Key Trends in Mission to Children – 6 key insights

We offer the following principles for action, based on emerging trends we have identified. We sense a global movement of God calling the body of Christ to disciple children more effectively.

In a paper offered at the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town 2010 several key action points emerge. They were offered with important questions to fuel further conversation. Read them here and continue the conversation in the comments section at the foot of the article.

Picture – Beautiful feet can bring good news

1. Disciple for deep and long-lasting faith.
There is an increased realisation that while the future of the church begins with child evangelism, it is accomplished by discipling and training children as ministry partners today, and developing them as the Christ-following leaders of tomorrow. Relationship development between children who are new in their faith and Christians who are further along the path is a key to this process.

For discussion:

  • What does it really mean to ‘reach’ the 2 billion children of the world and help them to be all that God intends?
  • What role are you, your family, your church or your agency playing in this task?
  • How could we equip children for long-lasting faith in the manner of our evangelism and discipleship?
  • How could we equip more people for the task of discipling the world’s 2 billion children?
  • What examples from your context provide encouragement in relation to discipling children for long-lasting faith?
  • What examples from your context cause concern in this regard?
  • What are the implications of prioritising the discipleship of children for the way we conduct church?

2. Partner with others within a Kingdom agenda.
There is an increased realisation that partnership is vital to fulfilling the Great Commission, including the task of discipling the world’s 2 billion children, as no single church, denomination or agency has all the answers or the capacity to do this.
Families, churches, denominations, resourcing agencies, missions and care agencies are catching a global vision of Kingdom-minded partnerships for the care, evangelism and discipleship of children.

In the manner of our partnerships we must return to the Kingdom values of servant leadership, humility, prayer, integrity, generosity and global equilibrium.

For discussion:

  • What encouraging examples can you share from your context in relation to partnerships for the sake of children?
  • What examples from your context cause concern in this regard?
  • Who do you need to connect or partner with in order to disciple children in a more lasting and effective way?
  • How can we effectively equip and partner with families for the task of discipling children?
  • How could the universal languages of culture be harnessed for evangelism and discipleship amongst children and partnership within the body of Christ?

3. Reflect on children from a Biblical perspective – in Churches, Seminaries and Bible schools.
There is a sense that equipping Christian workers to care for children and youth is a significant challenge and opportunity for Churches, Seminaries and Bible schools in the coming years. Many seminaries are approaching this not as a new fad or diversion from other worthwhile training, but as the best way to achieve what they have already set out to do – equip the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world.

The intent is not only to produce leaders who are better equipped to care for, evangelise and disciple children, but also to produce leaders who understand the significance of the Church’s holistic ministry to children, and who can influence others at all levels and in all contexts on behalf of those children.

For discussion:

  • To what extent are our churches, seminaries and Bible schools including children in our teaching?
  • What are some of the roadblocks to taking children seriously? (Is it eschatology?
  • Is it a certain understanding of discipleship?
  • Is it a ‘disconnect’ between theology and practice?
  • How could we practically work together to address some of these roadblocks?
  • What are some of the most significant theological questions regarding children?

4. Recognise and encourage the potential of children.
The potential of children is clearly understood by political groups, marketing companies, environmentalists and people of other faiths and there is an emerging concern that this understanding be reclaimed by the body of Christ because it is our heritage. If children can be encouraged to develop their God-given gifts and abilities in the context of relationships with more mature believers then their faith will be grounded in everyday life and our discipleship efforts will be longer lasting. On another level, children are being understood within mission circles as important partners with us in mission.

On yet another level, many of the world’s current challenges are so dire that realistically they will take several generations to solve and the real hope for change lies with our children and theirs.

For discussion:

  • What encouraging examples can you share from your context in relation to encouraging the potential of children?
  • What concerns do you have with regard to this?
  • How could we promote missions strategies which appropriately estimate the importance and contribution of children?
  • How could we encourage children to identify, use and develop their God-given gifts and abilities in order to promote long-lasting faith?
  • How could we equip and deploy children for influence and impact in mission?
  • How could we, in the manner of our evangelism and discipleship, equip children for mature future leadership within the body of Christ?
  • How could we, in the manner of our evangelism and discipleship, equip children to have a role in community transformation?

5. Share and contextualise resources.
In the light of the enormity of the task of discipling 2 billion children, and the reality of the lack of resources in many quarters of the church for this task, there is an increasing spirit of generosity and sharing with regards to resources for the care, evangelism and discipleship of children. It is also increasingly being recognised that resources have tended to be developed in certain parts of the world and distributed in others, and that moving forward together we must facilitate the development and sharing of appropriate, contextual material in and from all parts of the world.

For discussion:

  • What resources do you have for effective evangelism, discipleship and care of children?
  • Have you considered tithing your intellectual property so that others within the body of Christ could have access to high quality resources?
  • How could research be conducted and shared to help build momentum, focus and partnership around the needs of children?
  • What role should context and culture play in the nature of resources used and developed for evangelism, discipleship and care of children?
  • Do you have access to resources in your language?
  • Do you have access to resources that are appropriate for your culture and context?
  • What role could you play (or what help do you need) in creating, developing, sharing, translating or facilitating such resources?
  • How could we harness technology for resource distribution, evangelism, discipleship and care in innovative ways?

6. Adapt to the technological context of children.
While stark contrasts still exist between urban and rural situations, there is an increasing awareness that the technological context of children is a significant forum in which to reach children. While adults may migrate to this context, children are becoming citizens of this context from the youngest ages.

Children from all over the world are becoming more alike as a result of globalization and the internet. Technology greatly magnifies the impact of globalization, individualism and secularism on children, but it also opens up incredible opportunities for mission as well as opportunities for grounding the faith of children in everyday life.

For discussion:

  • How could we disciple children more effectively to thrive as Christians in this context?
  • Have we considered encouraging children, as our mission partners, to help us adapt to the technological context?
  • What encouraging examples can you share from your situation in relation to the technological context?
  • What concerns do you have with regard to this?
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4 thoughts on “Key Trends in Mission to Children – 6 key insights

  1. The third point made in this blog, that we, as the Church, need to be reflecting on children from a biblical perspective in biblical settings is vital in the American church today. Though our culture does put a high value on children and their education I don’t think that is usually reflected in our churches. Often, children’s ministries are looked at as a means to getting unbelieving adults into the church. Also, many people write off children as unable to understand or having a growing, thriving faith. Personally, as I spend time working in my children’s ministry I am endlessly finding young girls who are starving for godly role models in their lives. It is important that valuing children, for who they are and what they have to offer in ministry, is part of our eschatology. We need to be faithful to teach congregations and theologians that children are a priority of God’s and therefore a priority of ours.

  2. I enjoyed reading this article about how to disciple children around the globe more effectively. The fourth point made truly stuck out to me because of the way that it recognized children’s potential. I believe that when we encourage kids to know that they are loved by God, they can also begin to grasp and see their own potential. Because children are the future generation, it is vital to disciple them in a way where they know who God is and how He has gifted them to spread the Gospel around the world. We are the ones who can be that example to them and impact their lives for eternity!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this article and the 6 insights to discipling children more effectively. I think anyone who is doing children’s ministry should read this article. These six insights really got me thinking and reflecting on my ministry with children and the ones I am disciplining in Honduras. The point that hit me the most was, “recognize and encourage the potential of children.” Sometimes I think we are so focused on helping them and teaching them about Jesus that we fail to see their potential and gifts. I personally can say I am guilty of that. We need to be encouraging children to use the gifts that God has given them and telling them that they have potential. Children can actually be a partner for you in ministry. Children talk, a LOT, and they always want to tell their parents and siblings things. If yu are teaching the child about Jesus, how to pray, and different Biblical songs, they are eventually going to tell their parents. They can help you reach their family.

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