As I sat in Stuart Auditorium this past June, listening to the business of the Western North Carolina Conference, an statement caught my attention. Bishop Goodpaster was asking the ordinands the historic questions. I thought he did a great job with this because when I went through with a past bishop the microphone was placed in such a way that we had to look at the bishop’s back as he asked the questions. Goodpaster had a similar setup but insisted that the ordinands bunched up and moved to the side of the stage where he could look them in the eye. As he asked the questions he would pause here and there and reflect on the meaning behind the question.
He paused after asking this questions, “Will you diligently instruct the children in every place?” He told the annual conference that John Wesley was only mentions one age group in the questions, children. There is no mention of the elderly or young adults, only children. I found that very powerful.
This year for Charge Conferences, one of the main questions we as a congregation have to report on is how are we living this out? We are launching a children’s fellowship on Sunday nights and will be having a confirmation class in January (first one in three years). We can answer this question with confidence at Trinity, but many church’s cannot.
In our Charge Conference packet they also provided some other stats on why ministry to our children is so important. Here is one of their points…
The Barna Group, researching the spiritual lives of persons in the USA, concludes that persons ages 4 to 13 have a 32% probability of accepting Christ as [their] savior and promising to serve him as Lord. For ages 14 to 18, that probability drops to 4%. For the remainder of the adult life, the probability of accepting Christ is 6%. 58% of people in the USA never make a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ. If churches do not teach the children and invite them into a relationship with Christ and the church, the odds of those children becoming Christians later in life is at best one in ten.
We have been blessed to have 53 children under the age of 10 (one just born today). This is only the fourth month in the last ten years we won’t have someone pregnant in our congregation. For a church of only 190, that is incredible. Yet if we don’t minister to our kids, only five will become Christians as they get older. With all the pulls in our society, we as a church need to pull a little harder, maybe even yank, to make sure we are living up to our promise when we were ordained but also what we promise each time a child is baptized.
1 in10…not on my watch!