As we consider how to reach the 4 billion people on our planet who do not know Jesus (yet), it is essential that we consider ministry to kids, not just adults. Let’s review the reasons:
Kids are everywhere! There are 2.2 billion children under 18 (33% of our world). In many of the developing countries, where we find the greatest population of unreached people, kids are at least 50% of the population. Although they do not fit the exact definition of a “people group,” because they belong to so many different cultural backgrounds, together their numbers make them the largest unreached group on our planet.
Kids are unreachable: They have the time to listen, the availability, and the interest. They are not afraid to respond when they feel the Holy Spirit drawing them to Christ. In several Campus Crusade trainings I’ve been part of, we learned that 25% of people will likely respond to receive the gospel when it is presented personally, fully. In my over 20 years of evangelism experience, I find that nearly 50% of kids are likely to respond. Not a small thing. In some ways, kids are like the guests in the parable of the banquet in Luke 14. They are invited last to the celebration, yet are the most available to attend and to respond to the generous gifts of the King.
The powers of this world know kids are reachable, too. In the Muslim world, strong emphasis is placed on teaching the way of Islam to children before the age of five. We’ve heard stories of eight-year-old children so committed to their faith they were willing and ready to become suicide bombers.
Alternately, media and marketing gurus know that they need to capture the hearts of children early with brand names…then keep them for life. Kids are targeted around the world.
The harvest is ripe; children are ready for the gospel.
Kids are needy and poor: The UN estimates that nearly half of the world’s population of children live in poverty. With other risk factors added in, nearly 2/3 of our planet’s children love in “at risk” situations. Again, most of these children are unreached. Considering the work of Christ outlined in Isaiah 61, to “preach good news to the poor,” to “bind up the brokenhearted,” to “free the captive,” etc., we easily see that this entire passage could be a call to ministry to children. God’s heart is to rescue children, the most vulnerable group of people on our planet.
Kids are teachable: Unlike adults, kids have much less to “unlearn” when they come to Christ. They are eager to understand what it means to follow Jesus, and to obey. People who come to Christ as children are most likely to follow Jesus for a lifetime. Kids are ready and waiting.
In addition, kids are the key to transformation. When we pour the love of Christ into their lives, teaching them to follow Christ wholeheartedly, they will not only change personally, but they will impact their families, their communities, and their nations.
Kids are connected to families: As children come to Christ, they often open doors for the gospel to be shared with their families. In Muslim areas, this opportunity must be handled with great prayer and respect. But kids often bring their entire families to Christ shortly after believing in him.
Kids have great potential – to reach more kids – and others! Children can also learn to share the gospel with their friends. Their friends are also reachable, teachable and connected to families. Kids can be part of reaching future generations for Christ if we get with the program. Kids have amazing potential to not only be tomorrow’s church, but the church of today.
Mission leaders are beginning to catch the vision. Dan Brewster of Compassion International and Patrick McDonald of VIVA Network in their booklet, Children—The Great Omission?, say, “We believe that children and young people should be the single greatest priority for Christian work in the coming decade.” [Brewster and McDonald, Great Omission, 3.] [Pages 32-34]