by Tami Snowden and Janay Garrick, Pioneers in the USA
Children at the Core of 21st Century Missions Strategy
More than 300 international Christian leaders met at the 4/14 Window Global Summit at the beginning of September 2009 to discuss a new missions focus: children between the ages of 4 to 14 years old. The summit was called by Luis Bush, the renowned missiologist who championed the 10/40 Window—calling it the “core of the core” —leading to a strategic movement by the Church to focus its church-planting efforts on unreached peoples between 10 and 40 degrees latitude from West Africa to Southeast Asia. Today, Christian leaders, church planters, and missiologists are urging a new focus: the 4/14 Window. It also can be called “the core of the core.”
What is the 4/14 Window? The 4/14 Window refers to the world of children between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. The term was introduced in a 1996 publication by Dan Brewster, then program director for Compassion International and based on research by Dr. Bryant Myers, who showed that “85% of those who become Christians do so between the ages of 4 and 14 years old.” Children and teenagers make up half of the world’s population, yet as little as 10% of mission efforts are currently directed toward them.
The 4/14 Window recognizes that children are the most receptive people group to the gospel, and positioned to be a mighty force to bring others to faith in Christ. Children have their whole lives ahead of them to live out and share their faith, and they also have time to be long-term agents of change.
The 4/14 Window is a movement of the Holy Spirit to focus God’s church on the 1.2 billion children at risk around the world. The children are suffering in our midst as slave laborers, orphans, prostitutes, and soldiers; and the Church is positioned to answer their cries.
The 4/14 Window is a necessary response to Jesus’ command: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mk. 10:14). Jesus did not marginalize children, so neither can we. Jesus set a little child in the midst of His disciples and asked them to form their theology, their ministry focus, around this child.
Questions to Consider
- In what tangible ways, do you, your family, church and/or ministry place a high value on children and see them as worthy of ministry?
- What steps might you take to ensure that children between the ages of 4 and 14 hear the gospel of Christ and are equipped to be active participants in the Church?
- What other ways might you respond to this urgent appeal for a new missions focus to the 4/14 Window?