I have a friend that often talks about the 4-14 rule. He believes that the most fragile population within and outside our churches are those between the ages of 4-14. The individuals in our communities and our world who know the least about Christ are between the ages of 4-14. The opportunity to reach individuals for Christ is most fruitful in those age 4-14. It would be difficult to argue that this wasn’t true. And yet, I would argue that we sure don’t lift these children up as the most important or even critical members in most of our congregations.
Oh sure, we have Sunday school and youth groups for your students. We often allow them up front for special programs during the service and maybe even have children’s sermons. But do we look at the children in our church and those just outside the walls and feel a sense of urgency? Not usually.
I would like to place the focus on those 4-18. I would add high schoolers to this list of the most critical members of our church and community. How much of your congregation’s budget supports the 4-18 population? When your congregation has visioning sessions and looks at priorities and its future, how much time is spent on the 4-18 group? Shouldn’t this take up most of the time?
I realize that if we have youth leaders asking churches to spend more financial resources and focus more on youth, it seems self-serving. I’m not sure what to do about that, because if those with a passion for youth don’t raise this issue, who will?