George Barna, yes the one that does polling, in his book, Transforming children into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should be Your Church's #1 Priority, makes a case for churches and dare should I add Christian schools put a heavy emphasis on children ages 5-12. Having been in Christian education over 29 years, I can see why this age is so important to reach. Have churches and schools done a good job reaching these children? Read some of Barna's words below and then make up your mind.
Why focus on this particular slice of the youth market [ages 5- to 12-year old age range]? Because if you want to shape a person's life-whether you are most concerned about his or her moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional or economic development-it is during these crucial eight years that lifelong habits, values, beliefs and attitudes are formed. p. 18
Many Americans believe it is an intellectual stretch to suggest that every choice we make is spiritual at its foundation. For instance, some might wonder how something as commonplace and seemingly unspiritual as the entree they choose at dinner affects their spiritual lives. They fail to see that the content of the food ordered affects the health of their bodies, which in turn affects their ability to fulfill God's calling and purposes for their lives. Additionally, the entree will cost them money. The expense of the meal affects the amount of money they will have to apply toward the priorities they have established in their lives, whether that entails spending in ways that maximize their potential comfort, donating funds to meet the needs of the poor or any of the thousands of other ways the money could be spent. In fact, the choice of whether to eat in a restaurant or at home, as well as the selection of which restaurant to patronize, is a reflection of their sense of responsibility to God, family, community and culture.
The Bible alerts us to the fact that someday we will have to give an account to God for every choice we made (se Eccles. 11:9; Rom. 14:12) This includes how we utilized every resource He entrusted to us on His behalf, which encompasses money, relationships, ideas, time, possessions and words. It follows, then, that the only viable defense we will muster for a specific choice relates to the moral and spiritual foundation of that decision, because that is the basis of God's judgment. pp. 30-31
. . . the probability of someone embracing Jesus as his or her Savior was 32 percent for those between the ages of 5 and 12; 4 percent for those in the 13- to 18-age range; and 6 percent for people 19 or older. In other words, if people do not embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior before they reach their teenage years, the chance of their doing so at all is slim. p. 34
. . . by the age of 13, your spiritual identity is largely set in place. p. 34
Yet if we could see the world through God's eyes, we would quickly recognize that the only return on investment that truly maters is lives transformed to love God more deeply and to obey Him more perfectly. As you ponder how to invest your personal resources of all types-time, money, experience, ability, facilities, expertise, and so on-keep in mind that there is no better investment than nurturing our youngsters for an eternal payback. p. 42
When you try to be something that God did not make you to be, you can count on a life of frustration, dissatisfaction and failure. When you listen to the voice of God to discern what He has called you to be, then you are in line for the blessings that enable you to succeed in the ventures for which He created you. p. 62
. . . we have to remember that it is not we who cause transformation but the Holy Spirit working through us that brings about such inner change. Our responsibility is not to do it all and to perform with perfection but to be available and diligent in our personal spiritual growth and to be willing to invest in the spiritual growth of our children. God will do the rest, sometimes through us and sometimes in spite of us. p. 75
I invited her to sit on my lap while I told her the ultimate, indisputable way that she could know that I loved her more than anything else on the planet. "Buddy, I do everything I can to try to raise you up to be the woman that God made you and wants you to be. There is nothing more important than that you love, obey and serve God with all your heart, mind, strength and soul. And I do everything I can to help you be a little girl who grows up to be a big girl who is God's pleasing and faithful servant. There's nothing more special that any parent can do than to help his or her child honor God; and I will never stop trying to do the things that bring you closer to Him. That's more important than buying you nice clothes or giving you a cell phone, than letting you see every movie you want to see or giving you the biggest room in the house. I really want God and other people throughout the world to be blessed by who you are. pp. 135-136
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