Dec 28, 2015

Children's Ministry in Post-Christian America

America is quickly becoming a post-Christian nation.  This means people's personal world views are no longer rooted in the language and assumptions of Christianity.  

A few of the key indicators are the increasing number of religiously unaffiliated, a steady drop in church attendance, the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and the growing tension over religious freedoms.  One major finding reveals that from 2013─2015, the number of “post-Christian” Americans rose close to 50 percent.

If you don't think this is the way things are trending, it's probably because you've surrounded yourself with people who think just like you do.  If you get outside the Christian bubble, you'll see that things have changed.  This is not your grandmother's culture and children's ministries that want to thrive cannot conduct business as they have in the past.

"Family" in post-Christian America comes in all shapes and sizes.  Family used to mean a husband and wife with two kids and a white picket fence.  But today, the "word" family means single-parent families, blended families, parents who are cohabiting, grandparents raising their grandchildren and a host of other family situations.  If you want to reach families in post-Christian America, you must be prepared to minister to all kinds of families.

Back to the basics.  In post-Christian America, kids and parents have no Biblical knowledge base to draw from.  Words like "justification" and "redemption" and "sanctification" and "washed in the blood" are like a foreign language to them.  Adam?  Eve?  Noah?  Daniel?  Matthew?  Mark?  They've never heard of them.  You must start with the basics and build from there.

Church attendance.  People used to attend church because it was what they were supposed to do.  It was part of the culture.  But not in post-Christian America.  Less and less people are attending church and those who do are attending less frequently.  The days of people being there every time the doors are open has become a thing of the past.  We must find ways to make church so irresistible that families will line up to get inside.

Allow people to belong before they believe.  In post-Christian America, kids and families long to belong.  They are searching for meaningful relationships and community.  Children's ministries that give people the space to come and belong to their community before believing, can be effective.  Once they find a place to belong, they will see that what we have is real and believe.  After they believe, they will begin to behave as they are transformed into the image of Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Compassion.  In a post-Christian world, we will not win kids and families to Christ through "proving" that the Bible is true or by "winning a political argument" or by "convincing them that Jesus rose from the dead."  We will win them by showing them true compassion and love.  We will win them with our heart...not with our head.

Concluding thoughts...

What a great time to be the light!  The darker the night, the brighter the light can be seen!  Living in a post-Christian America is not the time to build a bunker and hold out til Jesus comes back.  It's time to let the light of Jesus shine brighter than ever.

God is still drawing kids and families to Himself, restoring marriages, bringing hope to people who have no hope and filling His house with people who are hungry for His presence.  It's a great time to be in Children and Family Ministry!  God wants to use you like never before!  Simply make yourself available to Him and watch what He does in you and through you in the next 6 months! 

2 comments:

Perfect! I especially love what you said about allowing people to belong before they believe. You said it perfectly. keep up the great work!

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