Many are familiar with the term “10/40 Window” – the geographical frame with the largest population of non-Christians in the world. The mission strategist who coined that phrase believes the new emphasis should be on the “4/14 Window”.
The 4/14 Window, as coined by Dr. Luis Bush, international facilitator of Transform World Connections, describes a demographic frame – children and youths between the ages of 4 and 14. Bush says 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.” Mission strategies developed for the 4/14 Window would be implemented by parents, pastors and other role model figures that play key roles in shaping a child’s worldview.
This strategy isn’t new to ministry leaders in the West, but as Bush suggests, the highest missions priority is now the 4/14 Window (children ages 4 to 14) within the 10/40 Window.
Coinciding with this new terminology, the Barna Group recently released a new study exploring, “What is the connection between childhood faith and adult religious commitment?” They surveyed adults asking them to describe the frequency of their involvement in Sunday school or religious training during their developmental years. Their responses were then compared with their current levels of faith activity and faith durability.
The research examined four elements of adult religious commitment: attending church, having an active faith (defined as reading the Bible, praying, and attending church in the last week), being unchurched, and switching from childhood faith.
Based on Barna’s findings, Dr. Ed Stetzer, affiliate professor of research and missional ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, provided the following analysis on those who were engaged in traditional Christian Education as children and teens:
“When it comes to church engagement, those who attended Sunday school or other religious programs as children or as teens were much more likely than those without such experiences to attend church and to have an active faith as adults. For instance, among those who frequently attended such programs as a child, 50% said they attended a worship service in the last week, which is slightly higher than the national average and well ahead of those who rarely or never attended children’s programs. Among those who frequently attended religious programs as teenagers, 58% said they had attended a worship service in the last week. In comparison, less frequent participation as a teenager correlated with less frequent adult participation.”
“Probably most of this data doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone involved in Spiritual formation. However, now there is some statistical data to support the correlation between childhood and adult engagement through Children’s and Youth (teen) ministry, as well as parental instruction and discipleship.
To read the entire report by the Barna Group, click here.
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