An article in the Christian Post this morning caught my eye, and should catch yours as well:
Christian leaders need to reprioritize and direct efforts towards the 1.2 billion people in the “4/14 Window,” insists the mission strategist who coined the more widely known term “10/40 Window” two decades ago to refer those regions of the eastern hemisphere located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator.
The 4/14 Window, explained Luis Bush, international facilitator of Transform World Connections, does not refer to a geographic frame like the 10/40 Window – the geographical area with the largest population of non-Christians in the world. Rather, it describes a demographic frame – children and youths between the ages of 4 and 14.
“There is a recognition that we are losing the children of the world spiritually,” Bush told The Christian Post on Tuesday, the last day of the Transform World Conference on the 4/14 Window in New York.
Statistics show high percentages of teens and young adults ages 15 to 24 are departing from the Christian values they were raised with, he said.
“So this becomes a very critical moment to aim lower at the 4 to 14 [age] as the beginning place and come back to there with significant concentration,” contended the mission strategist.
Bush noted that the decade represented by the 4/14 Window is the most critical period in terms of human development. During these years, the perspectives of children are profoundly shaped – either positively or negatively.
None of this is to say that the 10/40 window isn’t still important–it’s the least evangelized part of the world, as well as the toughest in which to get a foothold. But I think that Bush’s point is a valid one, and in some ways even more valid in the United States than elsewhere. For years, the churches, evangelical as well as mainline, have had a very difficult time retaining children when they leave their parents’ home. There are lots of reasons for that, but I think part of it is that we’ve spent so much time and energy trying to make church entertaining for children that we haven’t given much thought to how to transmit the faith to them. They tend to hear the same Bible stories over and over, and tend not to hear or be exposed to either the doctrinal or experiential content of the faith. At Redeemer, we’ve made children of these ages a priority. A lot more churches need to do so as well.