“Whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me.” How as the church can we be discipling children, especially when the biggest influence towards people coming to faith is growing up in a Christian family?

Those of us who have grown up in a Christian home often think that our story of coming to faith is not exciting or radical enough. A colleague, when asked about her testimony, said I have the best story ever. I have known Jesus all my life.” Another friend who has a life changing story said that she really loved to hear stories of people coming to faith through their families because these all brought value and showed the diversity of God’s people. 

The Talking Jesus research answers how people in the UK are coming to faith. When we look at the results, we see that the biggest influence is growing up in a Christian family, at 34 per cent. We also see that most practicing Christians say they came to faith before the age of 18. Even though these are important factors, just 50 per cent of children growing up in Christian families will keep their faith as adults, says Care for the Family.

These statistics show us the importance of family life and how, as churches, we need to be supporting the discipleship of children. Here are three things we can do as a church family to support and nurture children and young people in their faith:

  1. Give children the opportunity to ask questions and to talk about faith. We know that faith can be confusing, the Bible brings up lots of questions, and doubts are natural. Create spaces and ask children questions that help them to think through things. As we grow older, we often stop questioning as much as we used to when we were children. This is a crucial stage in life when things feel exciting.
  2. Create spaces for children to participate in church life. Throughout the time between Ascension Day and Pentecost, a few churches where I live have joined together to have a 24/7 prayer room. Spaces have been intentionally created for children to also join in and families have been encouraged to bring their children. Children are part of church, not separate from it.
  3. Be missional with children. Discipling children can also lead to invites to those outside the church. Various groups and activities for children that you put on can open doors to invite others outside the church. From our Talking Toddlers work we have seen that inviting non-Christians to church toddler groups is one of the easiest invites. Children are some of the greatest evangelists.

I remember friends at university thinking that I had been brainwashed for growing up in a Christian family, but I am so grateful to my parents, godparents, children and youth workers and church families who showed me how to live like Jesus. I was able to see that God is at work in the messy and vulnerable, and decided to make a personal commitment. When I joined God’s family I said yes” to discipling others, and when each us join His family we say yes” too.

In the UK today, there are around 12.7 million children under the age of 16. Jesus wants each one of them to be given the opportunity to know Him personally. I pray that this research would encourage you to pray and invest more into children around you. I pray that children would have the opportunities to know and understand who Jesus is.

Dive into the Talking Jesus report and our blog series:

We want to share and explore with you some of the recent findings from the Talking Jesus report. We teamed up with four amazing organisations to undertake this ground-breaking research, which presents an updated understanding of what people in the UK think about Christians, Christianity and the church. This blog series explores the really encouraging and challenging results for us in this post-pandemic season.

Talking Jesus:  Four things we can do to help more people become Christians

Talking Jesus: Four things we can do to help more people become Christians

Phil Knox explores four of the most powerful and effective ways to reach out with the gospel, backed by Talking Jesus research – which will you try today?
Phil Knox Phil Knox
Talking Jesus: How to love people who don't love the church

Talking Jesus: How to love people who don't love the church

Many non-Christians think negatively about the church but positively about their Christian friends – how can we respond to this reality?
Rachael Heffer Rachael Heffer
Talking Jesus: Are “not-yet Christians” closer to trusting Jesus than we think?

Talking Jesus: Are “not-yet Christians” closer to trusting Jesus than we think?

45 per cent of UK adults believe in the resurrection – but it’s what we do with this new knowledge that matters
Gavin Calver Gavin Calver