I’ve heard Larry Fowler talk about the Question that No One Asks. I knew he was speaking truth, but I didn’t realize just how true it was for me.
The question that everyone does ask is how many children did you have in your ministry today? They look for trends in numbers. Declining numbers can signal trouble, increasing numbers are seen as a positive.
The question that no one asks is, who was there?
I was determined to better track the attendance for my 4th grade class personally and see how it measured up. After the grades moved up, I have been diligent in tracking who has been attending. Admittedly, some of the data is skewed because there are two services and two identical classes. Some of the students may have attended the earlier class. I am only looking at those who have attended my class since they are the ones that I have influence over as I teach.
After 9 weeks, not long at all, there is currently a weekly average of 14. This number of weekly attendees is fairly consistent so it would appear as if the class is doing well. But here is the total story:
- There have been 39 different children who have attended at least one class.
- Only 1 has been in attendance all 9 weeks
- A total of 5 have attended 75% or more of the classes
- 6 have attended 50 – 74% of the time.
This is not unique to my situation. I know several who have found similar results.
It used to be believed that the church had one hour each week to disciple the children. The reality is that we may have only have 26 hours in a year for most children. Yes it is true that parents are the primary spiritual influence in a child’s life, but I believe that the church is ignoring a vital truth and is taking a devastating turn.
About 20 years ago, there was a realization that children’s ministry was vital to growing and establishing the Kingdom of God. More people come to a saving faith in Jesus as children. The church began to realize that and began to place a greater emphasis on ministry to children. Then, family ministry entered the scene which distracted the church from its mission. Once again, I believe that the church is beginning to de-emphasize the children and is re-focusing on adults, the parents.
Parents, adults, bring children to church. If the parents do not see the importance of consistent attendance to grow in the Lord, then the children will be inconsistent in their attendance, as seen by the numbers. If the church is relying on the parents to be the primary influence in the lives of children, then how can the church reach the children if the church isn’t reaching the parents? Or do we, the church, just not try to reach the children? Are we keeping the children from Jesus like the disciples did in Mark chapter 10?
What are your numbers showing you?
I think it is time that we rethink children’s ministry.