Later in December, I will give a talk on helping churches evangelize in areas of extreme poverty, with lots of high-risk or at-risk children.
At-risk or high-risk is defined locally as children who are
- Children of an addicted parent.
Fourteen churches want to send their pastors and children’s workers to a day long seminar.
My wife will be teaching on using crafts from household recyclables and I will do a seminar for pastors on getting a vision to reach children. Pray for us as we go.
Part of a Larger Problem
Can the church solve the social problems that have created such an environment? I’ve written here on Walking with the Poor:
I’ve been reading Walking with the Poor, by Bryant L. Myers. The book looks at principles and practices of transformational development.
The book explores poverty, causes of poverty, and calls the church to action in engaging broken systems that cause poverty.
He lays forth a strong case that poverty is a “deficit, entanglement, lack of access to social power, powerlessness, and the lack of freedom to grow” (Myers 81).
Poverty is a complicated issue that involves all areas of life — physical, personal, social, cultural, and spiritual.
The gospel is relevant to people such as these. But what difference does evangelism make in their life? Can it lift them out of their poverty?
This is the question that Myers seeks to get at in this book.
For example, he presents a simple chart about solutions to the cause of poverty (p.81).
View of Cause, Proposed response
- Poor are sinners –> Evangelism
- Poor are sinned against –> Social Action and justice
- Poor lack knowledge –> Education
- Poor lack things –> Relief / social welfare
- Culture of the poor is flawed –> Become like us / ours is better
- Social system makes them poor –> Change the system
Certainly poverty has many causes and many possible cures. It is beyond the task of our family to challenge the system, but rather to focus on Evangelism and helping churches engage.
Evangelism calls people to personal transformation — to step up into the purposes for which the individual has been created.
Evangelism calls people to societal transformation — to participate in the work of the Kingdom of God.
My Friends Chime In About Reaching Children for Christ
There is plenty to talk about when it comes to helping churches reach high risk children.
A healthy discussion through Twitter and on my Facebook page suggests many different ideas on why the Church should reach children:
@Final_Night wrote Pastor should have vision that is for ENTIRE church then each ministry head figures out how their ministry fulfills vision
@RexEspiritu pointed to his article meet Emerging 21stCenturyCulture needs http://tinyurl.com/5jak6v
KK Marocchini at 8:07am November 26
Because the children are the future of our church, because they grow up so fast and we only have a short time with them, and because it’s really easy for them to get lost in the shuffle.
Maria Quinones Bumper at 8:09am November 26
Children are maliable and can be shaped, they aren’t warped by society and its views yet so we can take their openness and let them absorb and put into practice the Gospel. If we can start early instilling the values and letting them be walking testimonies we are one step closer to reaching out to the world in general and are more apt to have the … Read More
Kathy Hsu Wibberly at 10:30am November 26
Because those who had a great experience in children’s ministry are more likely to become involved in children’s ministry as they grow up. What better way to raise up future church workers!
Lindsay Van Sicklen at 12:45pm November 26
Because raising children is a partnership between the parents and the church. The church’s role is to reinforce what is taught in the home. The best children’s ministries that I’ve seen spend a significant amount of time teaching the parents too.
Geoffrey McLean at 8:05pm November 26
I actually have trouble with the future of the church concept. Children are the today of the church just as much as an adult. There the future of paying the church bills and stuff, but in Spiritual terms it is their church now. The future church is unimportant, we need to focus on the spiritual needs of all of Gods children regardless of age. I also am convinced we need more intergenerational ministry. That’s the Biblical example I believe we have.
Young and old seeing visions etc…
Kathy Hsu Wibberly at 10:39pm November 26
I’m there with that. We do intergenerational Sunday School at our church!
The focus of my presentation
While I can’t focus on curing the social ills that cause at-risk children to be at risk, I can certainly help churches with calling kids to follow Christ and allowing the Spirit of God to work a shaping and forming of their character.
1. Training of a child.
The Bible has a lot to say about how to live, and in the case of at-risk children, I believe the church is to take on the role of partnering with parents or in some case taking over that role in shaping the moral development of children.
2. Explaining the faith to children
As children mature, they understand faith at different levels. Churches can work with some insights from psychology to help present the gospel and call for response at age appropriate levels.
3. Helping parents find faith as well.
Reaching children for Christ has the potential for reaching entire households. Kids talking with their parents about what they are learning. Church building relationship with parents simply by ministering to kids. Churches offering opportunity to teach on parenting and show how the Bible is relevant to practical daily life.
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