“Each of us will have to give an account to Jesus about the children in our world. We can’t avoid considering what our role and response to the challenge of the 4/14 Window, churched and unchurched, will be.”
There was a popular song in the 80s, The Greatest Love of All, which contained undeniable truths: “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.” These sentiments are fully aligned with the teachings of Jesus about children, and few would dare to argue otherwise. Here is the challenge: how do we as leaders build a church our children would desire to be a part of and lead into the future? How do we transfer faith, ministry opportunities and responsibility to the next generation? What did the Creator hide in the heart of a child that Jesus calls us to resemble if we are to be part of His kingdom? These are some of the questions that Liz and I, as global workers to the 4/14 Window, ask ourselves and the global church wherever we serve as we seek to discern and discover how the Lord would lead His church in the 21st century.
The 4/14 Window is a contemporary term used to describe a crucial window of time in the life of a person between ages 4 and 14, when they are most responsive to the gospel. Children comprise the largest age group to be reached today, with nearly half of the world’s population currently under the age of 20. Our North American experience shows that 71 per cent of Christians committed their lives to Christ before the age of 15. These two incredible facts make children in the 4/14 Window the greatest outreach challenge for the church of Jesus Christ, as well as the greatest and most promising opportunity where the church can invest.
The 4/14 movement came into being at Promise Church, a Korean Assemblies of God church in New York City. Five years ago, Pastor Nam Soo Kim opened his heart to receive God’s burden for the state of the children in the world and in the church. He also opened the doors and resources of his church and congregation to host the first 4/14 Global Summit in 2009, attended by 387 delegates from 64 countries representing every continent. After being held in Singapore, Korea, and Thailand, last October the Summit returned to Promise Church in New York City. A total of 1,170 delegates from 93 countries attended the fifth gathering under the theme “Toward Best Practices,” to celebrate and share what God has been doing internationally. The movement has been expanding throughout the majority world.
Dr. Luis Bush, mission strategist and global catalyst of 4/14, traces God’s prompting towards this assignment to January 2001. It followed the official closure of the AD2000 ministry he had led during the previous 30 years. His meeting with Pastor Nam Soo Kim in 2008 united them with purpose and propelled the vision to a global level as the movement began to take shape through gatherings and consultations around the world. At the most recent New York conference, Dr. Wess Stafford, president emeritus of Compassion International, was introduced as ambassador at large for the 4/14 movement.
The 4/14 movement seeks to inspire the church in every nation to fulfil God’s heart for children as revealed in the ministry and teachings of Jesus—reaching, rescuing, rooting, releasing and resembling children. The movement challenges the church leadership to see children as full members in the body of Christ, partners in evangelism, ministry and mission, able to fulfil God’s purpose and plan in their families, communities and nations in the present moment.
The movement has been accomplishing this by capturing and sharing stories of effective outreach and ministry to and with children and youth from around the world. Models, resources and best practices being used are documented and shared, with the hope that they will be adapted and replicated. New perspectives and ways of thinking are being fostered both through theological and biblical mandates. Prayer is upheld as the movement’s engine, and the celebration of the Global Day of Prayer for the 4/14 Window on April 14th each year has been the one thing that unites the entire movement in a cry for children everywhere, every year.
In our very own backyard, we have an example of a ministry that is ministering to and with children in extraordinary ways. At Southside Worship Centre in Ajax, ON, children’s ministry pastor Laura Bogner and her KIDMIN team is embodying the message of the 4/14 Window movement. They are creating the space and the opportunities needed for their children to see and know that we truly are never too young to be used by God. Together they are ministering with and to children in exciting ways. For the full story and details of their ministry, see the PAOC Missions and Kids Magazine 2015 winter issue (pages 16-19), which is available for order at http://wordcom.paoc.org/ or download at https://paoc.org/docs/default-source/international-missions-docs/mak/current-issues.
I understand that not every pastor may share the sentiment of Dwight L. Moody when he said, “If I had my life to live over, I would give all my time to children.” Yet each of us will have to give an account to Jesus about the children in our world. We can’t avoid considering what our role and response to the challenge of the 4/14 Window, churched and unchurched, will be. I invite you to ponder on the following questions and I pray they will help us turn our hearts to the needs and opportunities of the 4/14 Window.
- Am I prone to overlook the children and youth of my church?
- Why do I find it easy to dismiss what effective children and youth ministry require in my context?
- Am I underestimating the value and resources hidden in the children and youth of my congregation?
For more information about the 4/14 Window, visit: www.4to14window.com. Consider using Panorama 414, a Dominican Perspective documentary for your event available at our website www.m414.org.
Oto and Liz Perez serve as PAOC global workers in the Dominican Republic.