HARRISBURG – We’ve all heard the statistics.

In his book, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s #1 Priority (Regal Books, 2003), George Barna reports that by age 13, a child has irrevocably formed the majority of her beliefs about:

  • The nature of God,
  • The existence of Satan,
  • The reliability of the Bible,
  • The holiness of Jesus,
  • Whether one can be saved from sin, and
  • What the afterlife really is.

Research compiled by his Barna Group shows that by age nine, most children have their spiritual moorings in place and by age 13, their spiritual identity has been set. “What you believe at age 13 is pretty much what you’re going to die believing,” Barna concludes. Therefore, the Church has a critical window of opportunity in our children’s lives to develop disciples who will grow to make disciples of others.

Furthermore, last November, representatives from BRN churches attending Penn-South Jersey WMU’s Annual Luncheon were asked what they believed to be the greatest need in their churches and how PASJ WMU could help. Overwhelmingly, respondents to the survey requested assistance with children and youth. Comments ranged from needing discipleship resources, to promoting missions projects and activities, to help with training leaders, to providing opportunities for families with children to learn and grow together.

Penn-South Jersey WMU leaders are taking seriously the research, statistics, requests and challenge.

Over the past six months, state leaders have been working to develop simple tools that BRN churches may use to support and strengthen your ministry to children and youth. And, in keeping with the BRN’s focus on healthy behaviors in the local church, the tools are designed to help you (1) analyze your community, (2) assess your church’s readiness, and (3) evaluate resources for effective children/youth missional engagement, intentional discipleship and leadership development.

Last weekend PASJ WMU leaders gathered at East Shore Baptist Church in Harrisburg to finalize the tools. (Pictures accompanying this article were taken at the two-day planning session.) Over the summer, we will be field-testing them in our churches, in preparation for a roll-out at the 2017 Annual Meeting in York, in November.

And this is where you come in. We would love to get your feedback. We will bring the tools, sit down with you and/or others whom you designate, and review them together. If you are willing to learn about them, and to provide an honest evaluation of them to us, we want to hear from you.

We are making appointments now for dates between June 15-September 15. Please contact Laura Shaw at the BRN office, at or 717-652-5856, before June 15, to schedule yours. Thank you.