Once upon a time, or so the old fairytale goes, the Pied Piper led all the children out from the city of Hamelin. I’m sure it was a shock, but everyone in town knew why the children were gone and they knew where they went.
But where have all the children gone from the church?
Back “in the day,” churches were filled with boys and girls. They came to Sunday School, they came to Worship, they came on Wednesday nights, and they even came on Sunday evenings. If the doors were open, the kids were there. Mom and Dad made sure of it!
Not so much today. In most US churches, the number of children has declined to little more than a shadow of the church’s former glory. What happened?
There’s been lots of speculation about the why and where, but churches began seeing significant losses within a few years of the great mass Baby Boomer Exodus of the 1960s and 70s. With that generation largely missing from the church, they didn’t bring – or send – their kids to church. It got worse with Gen-X and it’s worse yet with Millennials.
Yes, there’s more competition today. Little League, soccer practices, and video games have played a part, but to be fair the exodus came first and the competition stepped in to fill the gap. The decline was already a reality.
In Mark 10:13–16 we read the story of the children being brought to Jesus and the disciple’s disdain. Jesus turns the situation around with his pronouncement “Let the children come to be … don’t let anything get in their way.” With that admonition, one would think the church would bend over backwards to get kids into the church, but that’s not been the case.