You and I have a vision for what we want the church to be, but is it possible to predict the kind of leadership the future church will need, the kind of leadership we should be building into today’s kids?
Here are five goals to measure as we bring resilient child discipleship to our churches.
Goal #1: Prayer Of A Different Kind
Where should we begin in formulating a 2050 resilient strategy? We should begin with prayer. Today’s church needs to be committed to prayer in ways we have never prayed before.
Consider that we actually need to pray differently than we have for any other modern generation of kids. We need to pray that the generations growing up today will have a collision with their Creator, and understand that they belong to Him, above all else. We need to pray that they will be resilient disciples—people who love Jesus for the rest of their lives.
Our prayers need to claim this generation and the ones that follow for Christ. We need to pray that their identities will be in Jesus, their belonging found within the church. We must pray and ask God to give our children the courage to stand in the middle of a perverse and crooked generation as lights and proclaim, “I am not that. I am this. The church is my group. These people are my people. This is my choice … to love Jesus for the rest of my life.”
Goal #2: Allegiance And Identity
A second goal of a 2050 resilient strategy: allegiance and identity. Church attendance matters. Children and youth ministry leaders need to own the allegiance and identity message and make it clear.
The symptomatic problem of sporadic church attendance among “church going” families today points to allegiances to lesser things. When our identities are in Christ, church attendance will follow. “Being there” is such an important part of belonging and building resilient discipleship into our kids, so we shouldn’t deceive ourselves into thinking it really doesn’t matter.
Someone needs to take up this banner and wave it. Wait! That someone is us! KidMin messaging needs to embrace “Be here!” and “You belong here!” as a united theme. Being present is such an important part of belonging that we need to make sure our families hear this loud and clear from the KidMin community. We own that message. Let’s say it as one voice. For the sake of the 2050 church, today’s kids need to have church time prioritized. The velocity of secular culture bombarding our kids today needs to be met with an insistence on church attendance—the basics for membership in anything else.
Goal #3: Resilience
Then a third goal in a 2050 resilient strategy—resilience. We need to be sure that the DNA of KidMin is built on a discipleship philosophy of belonging, believing, and becoming with the goal of fostering resilience.
Go ahead and bring on the fun, the games, the craziness and the joy that belongs to ministry to kids. We love it too! But all that programming must also support three essentials … belong, believe and become. These three words capture the profound pattern and direction of a child’s spiritual development into resilient discipleship. Is this how we are intentionally reaching kids in our KidMin programs?
Goal #4: Inspire Volunteers To Become Leaders
Fourth, we need to measure our leadership. We need to stop just volunteering and start leading.
Those of us who grew up in church can all think of examples of loving, caring adults whose relationship went far beyond the definition of “volunteer.” We need to take a serious look at the word “volunteer” and what it implies. Volunteering keeps the door open for other possibilities. “Maybe I’ll be there to work in KidMin—or not. I am, after all, just a volunteer.” When churches struggle to get volunteers we think that’s not what children need today anyway. Honestly, this generation of kids needs specialists, generational guardians, and faithful dedicated leaders.
KidMin needs more leaders and fewer volunteers! Ministry to children is the most critical ministry in the church impacting the future of faith. It should be funded, prioritized, preached about from the pulpit, and celebrated constantly. It needs our investment, our time and our lives. In light of the challenges facing this generation of kids, they deserve the most charismatic, energized, enthusiastic leaders we can find. Our churches need to understand how critical this is. It’s time to do what leaders do. It’s time to lead.
Goal #5: Redemption Of Technology
Then a final piece of a 2050 resilient strategy is the redemption of technology. Technology is powerful and it is not going away. Yes, we need to place boundaries around it limiting access to influences, and to our time. But we can do more. We need to invest in finding ways to maximize its discipleship potential in kids’ lives.
We are asking questions like: How could we link a global community of Christian kids for prayer, fellowship, and connection? How can we facilitate resilient discipleship in the palm of kids’ hands today? How can we have a greater presence, impact, and future through the use of technology? How can a loving, caring adult model to a child that authentic relationship is best experienced in a real person-to-person relationship? How can a disciple maker help a child see that technology is there to facilitate authentic relationship and not the other way around?
Maybe you are asking these questions and more. In Awana’s corner of KidMin we are introducing a new digital Sunday curriculum, brite*, which focuses on resilient child and youth discipleship. We know this is necessary and we are excited about launching into the digital, learning world. But this is just the beginning of the possibilities for exciting new ways of spreading the gospel into a digitally linked world.
In 2050, discipleship will take place in ways we couldn’t imagine today. An amazing 2050 world, unknown to us today, stretches out before us and calls us to its way of disciplining. Not only is 2050 a challenge to believing, it is also an opportunity to reach our world with a capacity we have never before experienced.
Bring on the gospel-informed creative world-impacting ideas!
Bring on the Christ-following technology developers!
Bring on the missional-living financiers and dream facilitators!
We are standing on the edge of a technological age that could be as transformative and impacting, as inclusive and gospel-spreading as any age the church has previously experienced. The technological age could change the world by putting the gospel and discipleship into every person’s hand.
Our 2050 vision has discipleship potential like we have never before seen. Captivating. We should all get together to think, dream and pray about this.