Through the years I’ve been asked why I work with kids and for kids. I have several reasons but more importantly, I have a sense of urgency.
God uniquely designed our brains and a child’s brain is fascinating. Did you know that a person learns faster as a child than they will at any other point in their life? Children’s brains work two times faster than adults. Critical brain development happens between the ages of 2 and 7 and provides a prime opportunity to lay a foundation in a child’s life. Before the age of 12 children are deciding what they believe. After the age of 12 children are defending what they believe. Once that foundation is laid, children begin to operate based on that foundation. Right or wrong that foundation is critical for how they begin to navigate their lives.
Most researchers and psychologists recognize that within our development as a person is a desire to know about God. Even children who are not raised in religious homes have questions about God. Those researchers without a religious belief seem to scratch their heads over this enigma that is present and yet unexplainable. I simply believe that because we were created by God for Him, we are innately longing for him. Augustine put it more eloquently when he said, “’Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
If we combine this opportunity to build a foundation in a child and a child’s innate longing and desire for God, we come right back to the heart of the urgency I feel when I work with kids. It is a short yet powerful span of years to reach a person with Jesus when they are at their most open and ready. Numerous studies have found that well over 60% (closer to 85%) of people who started a relationship with Jesus did so as a child. This is not because children are naive, it is because they are open. When this span of openness is used for not only evangelism but also discipleship, we can set up a child to be a functioning adult who walks with Jesus for the rest of their lives.
With these things in mind, how can I not work with children? If I truly want to see a generation turn to God, it must start with our very youngest. If I truly want to see a country shift and a fervor for God begin to stir, it must start with our youngest. If I truly want to be a part of a ministry that will flourish long after me, it must start with our youngest. May I urge you to consider children as well? The time to reach them is now.
~ Melissa MacDonald