Over Labor Day weekend, I attended the 4/14 Global Summit in NYC (at the amazing Promise Ministries Church). There were over 300 of us from 70 different countries. It was awesome! Like being in heaven with every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
The focus of the summit was reaching children between the ages of 4 and 14. This initiative has been around for awhile and has its origins in George Barna's research that of those surveyed who say they are Christians, 85% made that decision between the ages of 4 and 14. That's pretty compelling. Now, summit organizers are advancing the 4/14 Window strategy even more.
I love how mission organizations, missionaries, NGOs, and pastors from around the world spent time hearing the needs of children--and how critical they are to reaching the world for Christ. I told them this is something children's ministers and youth ministers have prayed for--that everyone would see the vision! We heard how kids are powerless, vulnerable, and exploited around the world. And that we have to stand up for them! Yes! Yes!
Then why aren't I onboard 100%? I keep saying my thinking is muddled and I'm not sure what to do with it. I think part of my troubled spirit is "what about the edges?" What about the 0 to 4 age group? Experts tell us that the first three years of a child's life are the most critical. Maybe it's great church nurseries and preschools who've partnered with parents to prepare the 4-14 group to respond to Jesus. And what about the 14 to 21 age group? I guess I'm just uncomfortable with lopping off the edges for a catchy marketing phrase that rolls off one's tongue--4/14.
I'm 100% on board with reaching children (and their families, by the way). I just want us to reach children of all ages. I think over time we'll continue to have conversations and hopefully this summit will make the big difference with strategic thinkers that the organizers dream of. That's my prayer--for all the children!