USA (MNN) — The Pew Research Center just released an update on America’s changing religious landscape. The number of people who call themselves Christians dropped 12-percent over the past decade. Meanwhile, the number of atheists, agnostics, and “nones” – no religious affiliation – rose 17-percent.
Greg Yoder, Executive Director of Keys for Kids Ministries, says as far as U.S. religious trends go, this report is par for the course. “We’re seeing fewer and fewer people in the United States today claiming to be born-again Christians,” Yoder states.
“If you think about it, Christians are being attacked; they’re being marginalized more now than ever before. So, this is not a surprising report to me.”
Though Pew’s study focused exclusively on people 18 years and older, it reflects the overall society kids encounter at school, in sports, et cetera. Parents and influential adults set an example for children through word and deed. If they are moving away from Christ, it can be challenging for kids to move towards Him.
Yoder says discipleship is a critical need in the U.S. Church – especially when it comes to the Next Generation.
“It’s not enough to just lead kids to Christ. We introduce them to Jesus and they come to faith in Christ, and that’s great. But, there’s more. We want them to be discipled,” Yoder says.
“We want them to grow in their faith; we want them to become multipliers of their faith.”
Keys for Kids creates digital and print resources to help kids in the “4-to-14 Window” know Jesus and grow in their faith. See a list of resources and programs here. “80% of kids 4 to 14 years old are looking for some kind of spiritual truth. They’re looking for it; they want it,” Yoder says.
“Once you hit… 14 years old, you start seeing those numbers… go down as you get older.”
Kids grow in Christ
Suzy*, a 10-year old girl from Pennsylvania, couldn’t connect with the daily devotions she received from her mom. “She would read it for a while, and then put it down,” Suzy’s mom told Yoder. Then, Suzy’s mom learned about the “WORD with Zach” summer reading program.
As described on Keys for Kids’ website, “WORD with Zach” is designed to encourage daily devotions and Bible reading. If kids read faithfully every day between June and August and fill out the accompanying calendar, they get a chance to win prizes.
“WORD with Zach” did more than fill Suzy’s room with prizes. It helped her develop a hunger for God’s Word.
Even though the summer program is over, “she can’t put it down now. She’s doing it every morning when she gets up, right before getting ready for school,” Suzy’s mom tells Yoder.
“WORD with Zach” is only one of Keys for Kids’ child discipleship programs. See a full list here. Yoder says Suzy is a great example of Keys’ goals – igniting a passion for Christ in kids and their families, and helping kids reach other kids for Jesus.
“It’s just kind of like a ‘snowball effect’ – as people get excited about their faith, they want to tell others about it.”
Now that you know, what will you do in response? If you’re a parent or grandparent, visit KeysforKids.org to learn more about their work. You can even hear one-minute parenting tips from Yoder on the “Parent Minute” podcast.
“There are so many moms and dads that feel… they just don’t have the expertise to lead a Bible study or do devotions,” Yoder says, “but, we provide them [with] the easiest way to do it.”
You don’t need to be a parent to make a difference in the lives of kids worldwide. By giving to Keys for Kids, you can help underwrite ministry costs (ie. printing, production, mailing, etc.). Click here to help Keys share the truth of God’s Word with children around the world!
Header image is a stock photo obtained via Unsplash. Photo credit Karl Fredrickson.