Traditionally in Baptist churches, adults have been trained for ministry and evangelism, and more often than not, children have been the recipients. Not any more!
More and more churches are recognising that kids are already actively involved in outreach. The National Church Life Survey in 2005 discovered that about 68% of children surveyed had invited a friend along to a church service or other church activity in the past year. These levels were much higher than among adult church attendees, only 37% of whom had invited someone to church in the previous 12 months. So it’s not surprising that churches are intentionally including children, with adult mentoring, when they do mission.
With a third of the world population under 15, if we’re ever to reach the whole world with the gospel, our kids need to be involved.
Some children are naturally involved in living out their faith while they’re growing up, going with their parents whenever they do mission, praying with their family to see people saved, and being given tasks consistent with their skills and experience.
What difference would it make if we, as churches together, intentionally equipped all our kids for mission and ministry and encouraged them to embrace a missional way of life while they are young?
That’s the idea behind the KidsCan Festival on the Saturday morning of Revive. Some children will come with their leaders, others will come with parents who will spend the morning in other sessions. All will get a taste of four different skills before choosing one to practise in more detail. In previous years, skills have included creative dance, movie making, song writing, creative prayer, giving an object lesson, to name just a few. The children are challenged to master a specific skill while being mentored in how they could use the skill in mission and ministry. The session closes with the various groups showing each other what they can do. All leave with a certificate saying they’ve done three hours of training and are ready to receive further encouragement and opportunities to use what they’ve learned. They are encouraged to show their pastor the certificate, and the hope is that churches will continue to mentor and find a place for them in their various outreach teams.
Faith grows as we’re challenged to do something beyond our capabilities so that we realise we need the help of God and others to succeed. Great learning usually takes place when we’re given the chance to be actively involved ‘on the job’ while being carefully mentored. Our prayer is that at this year’s Revive, 200 7-14 year olds will be challenged at their own levels, gain a skill, and get a taste for mission that will grow and develop with them. We pray that the direct result will be a greater mission focus in the churches they return to, as they go back enthusiastic and ready to use those skills, trusting God to work through them as they step up for him.