The Prodigal continued…
That’s just one story you say. True enough, but statistics don’t lie. GOD knows that when you reach a child today you are in fact impacting generations to come. George Barna’s research, published in his ground breaking book, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions,” confirmed what GOD said so succinctly in Proverbs 22:6. According to his studies, a person’s worldview, their beliefs about life, faith, GOD, personal values, truth, integrity and the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are fixed by age 14. Based on his findings, he wrote:
“Families, churches and parachurch ministries must recognize that the primary window of opportunity for effectively reaching people with the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is during the pre-teen years. It is during those years that people develop their frames of reference for the remainder of their life – especially theologically and morally. Consistently explaining and modeling truth principles for young people is the most critical factor in their spiritual development.”
“Age at which people become Christians”
(The data in the pie graph or chart comes from Nazarene Church Growth Research)
Barna’s research also showed that people from ages 5 through 13 have a 32% probability of accepting Christ as their savior. Young people from the ages of 14 through 18 have just a 4% likelihood of doing so, while adults (ages 19 through death) have only a 6% probability of making that choice.
Not only do children more readily accept the gospel, but they also remain stronger Christians throughout their lives. In his October 11, 2004 article titled, “Evangelism Is Most Effective Among Kids,” Barna had this to say, “People who become Christian before their teen years are more likely than those who are converted when older to remain “absolutely committed” to Christianity.” Try your own survey of adults you know who are working in full time Christian ministry and see how many became Christians prior to the age of 13. I think your findings will confirm what we’ve laid out here.
 Barna Group, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, George Barna, Regal Books 2003.
I once served as a camp counselor at a youth camp of a strong Bible teaching church filled with young people being raised in ostensibly Christian homes. These youth struggled and were tripped up by the same obstacles the world throws in front of un-churched youth. But something was different. Night after night youth stood to testify of how God had rescued them from everything from self-mutilation to drugs and alcohol. They strayed, they struggled, but something separated them from other children. These Christian young people belong to God by faith and as such are in the process of sanctification. They are not slaves to Satan’s plans for them. They have dedicated Christian men and women around them, standing in the gap between them and this world system.
So I ask again, why am I so confident? First of all, because I believe that the Bible is GOD-breathed and completely trustworthy. So if GOD says that we need to teach the children, then we need to teach the children. It’s really that simple. In addition to the commands to teach, scripture is chock full of examples of children and youth that GOD has used mightily in His plan of redemption. David, the prophet Jeremiah, Samuel, and Josiah to name a few. Then there is Paul’s disciple, Timothy, of whom it was said, “From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). And again we see in Psalm 8 that GOD ordains praises from the mouths of children and infants to establish a stronghold against his enemies.
Beyond that, if we should need further convincing, the statistical and anecdotal evidence bares this truth out over and over again in both the positive and the negative case.
Coming next – “How Satan exploits this same truth”