NASHVILLE, TN (ANS) — “By the time children are 10 years old, the lens they are looking through to interpret the Gospel is the lens of secularism,” explains Matt Markins, president and chief strategy officer, Awana. “Furthermore, by the time children are 14, their worldview is largely fixed.”
Markins says this begs the question are we adequately preparing today’s kids to engage a post-Christian culture and lead the Church of 2050?
“The research, as well as the overwhelming response from church leaders, is a resounding ‘no.’ We must move toward resilient child disciple-making which is fruitful and backed by research and Scripture. The future of the Church will be shaped by how we respond to this crisis,” Markins said.
Awana, the global leader in child and youth discipleship, is set to bring together a host of renowned ministry experts in Nashville for the Child Discipleship Forum in order to help children’s ministry church staff counter rising secularism.
Gathering children’s ministry leaders, senior pastors and parents to collaborate, pray, learn and dialogue about critical factors shaping long-term discipleship in children, the Child Discipleship Forum will be held September 16-17 at Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee.
Featuring both in-person and online attendance options, individual and group registrations for the Child Discipleship Forum are now available, with summer pricing specials offered through August 26.
Tackling a range of timely topics, including the rapid rise of aggressive secularism and how it’s forming our children at an early age; why youth are leaving the Church after high school and how children’s ministry can help reverse this trend much earlier; as well as how to adequately prepare a new generation to engage the culture and lead the Church of the future, the Child Discipleship Forum will showcase keynote addresses and seminars from more than 16 preeminent experts in children’s ministry and Christian education.
Presenters include author, speaker and noted researcher Ed Stetzer of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College; Dr. Wess Stafford, president emeritus, Compassion International; the Barna Group’s David Kinnaman; Q Ideas founder Gabe Lyons; Awana CEO Valerie Bell; acclaimed children’s worship leader and songwriter Yancy; Moody Bible Institute professor, author and speaker Dr. Christopher Yuan; and Cynthia Dixson, children’s ministry director at Dallas’ Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, among many others.
“When attendees walk away from the Child Discipleship Forum, they will have immediate action steps to make an impact,” Markins adds. “We believe God is going to use children to bring about Gospel renewal to the Church and revival in our culture. It may very well be that we are in the process of making the greatest generation of disciples the world has ever seen—a resilient generation that will bend and flex but not break under the weight of culture, and who will love Jesus for the rest of their lives.”
Awana is a worldwide nonprofit ministry focused on providing Bible-based evangelism and discipleship solutions for ages 2-18. Engaging 4.7 million children and students each week, Awana is the global leader in child and youth discipleship. Partnering with ministries like Compassion International, World Vision and numerous denominations in over 65,000 churches (11,400 of them in North America), the global Awana staff serves in more than 120 countries to empower local leaders in churches and communities to give children the opportunity to know, love and serve Jesus, no matter their background.
Matt Markins is the president and chief strategy officer of Awana. Prior to joining the ministry’s executive leadership team, Markins served in leadership roles with Randall House and Thomas Nelson publishers and is the co-founder of the D6 Conference, a discipleship and family ministry community. He’s a public speaker and the coauthor of three books: RESILIENT: Child Discipleship and the Fearless Future of the Church, Leading KidMin: How to Drive Real Change in Children’s Ministry and The Gospel Truth About Children’s Ministry. Markins and his wife, Katie, have been local church volunteers for more than 20 years and spend their time in Nashville and Chicago with their sons Warren and Hudson.