Just today I once again heard the statistics about conversion demographics in the American church. More than 50% of the people who will ever come to Christ do so by the age of 12; more than 75% by the age of 21. A person’s basic beliefs about God are irrevocably fixed by the age of 14. And so on — you’ve all heard the stats.
We typically interpret this to mean that we need to invest heavily in children’s ministry and youth ministry — and being in that field myself, who am I to object? So we should.
But as I was hearing those stats again, it occurred to me that there is another way to look at them. We tend to simply assume that those stats are Just The Way It IS, but does anybody think these stats would have held in the early church as it’s described in the book of Acts? No? Me neither. Adult conversions were the order of the day.
Perhaps our conversion demographics are less a testament to the need to reach children early than they are a demonstration that the North American church exhibits a startling impotence when it comes to reaching adults. If we miss our chance to brainwash ’em young, we’re pretty well sunk.
It seems that Peter didn’t have this problem at Pentecost. Nor Paul, anywhere. So what’s up with us?