Perhaps much like you, I’ve always intuitively known there was a deadline for shaping the faith of our young people. I honestly thought the deadline was age 18. Meaning, as disciplemakers we feel a sense of responsibility to get our students ready for high school graduation so they can be commissioned out onto their college campuses to be Christ’s advocates for the Gospel.

I was wrong.

The deadline is not age 18; it’s 13. Check out this stat by leading Christian research firm Barna Group:

“… A person’s worldview is primarily shaped and is firmly in place by the time someone reaches the age of 13. …”

So let’s think about this for a moment. Who is today’s 13-year-old? Today’s 13-year-old recently entered your middle school youth group. Two years prior to that, they were 11 years old and were graduating out of your church’s children’s ministry. And just three years before that they were 8 years old and were right in the heart of your children’s ministry, in that sweet spot where worldview formation is taking place. Check out the timeline below to get an idea of what this looks like.

The work your church does with children at ages such as 5 years old, 8 years old and 11 years old – leading up to that critical age of 13, where worldview is firmly in place in most human beings – is the most strategic work of the local church!

For anyone who wants to be strategic, futuristic and fruitful, child discipleship is where it’s at!

Most churches and parents need to begin discipling children even earlier. We can’t afford to “wait until they are a bit older.” In today’s world of “screen culture,” aggressive secularism and hyper-individualization, our children are being rapidly formed by the world’s message earlier and earlier. What can stand up against this aggressive type of secular formation? A child disciple can.

Taken from email sent by Matt Markins (Awana President & CEO) on August 22, 2023.