Our story so far …

2004-2007: Realising the challenge –  and the birth of a vision

 In 2004 the Lausanne Movement for World Evangelisation held a Forum in Pattaya, Thailand. Significantly, and for possibly the first time in such a forum, a globally representative group of children’s ministry practitioners were invited to research and explore together the issue of the state of evangelism and discipleship of children in the world. The result was a report titled Evangelisation of Children (Lausanne Occasional Paper – Issue Group 18) which assessed the global situation at the time and explored what was needed and/or possible. The research revealed encouraging evidence of God at work amongst children in all corners of the world. It also brought sharp focus to the historically high proportion of children in the world (2 billion), the number of these who had potentially never even heard of Jesus (1 billion), the enormous number at risk (1.2 billion) and the startling proportion of churches in the world with no available resources to help them disciple children (approximately 70%).

During this year and the following few, these things emerged:

  • Great Omission video (by Patrick McDonald, Dan Brewster & the Viva network)
  • Pattaya Scale concept and Reaching Every Child videos (explaining the layers of the discipling process)
  • Aim Lower video circulated widely and virally.

A core group who had been involved in the Lausanne Forum began to explore the ways they might act on the challenges around partnership, equipping and resources that had been identified by working together.

 2008-2009: Starting the relational journey – thinking big and dividing up the task

We met together for the first time in June 2008, hosted by Viva’s International Cutting Edge Conference.  Attending were key influencers from major global  and local children’s ministries, churches and agencies.  The following year we met again as we continued to explore the question: ‘What could we do together that we cannot do alone to evangelise and disciple the 2 billion children of the world?’.

During these two years we identified:

  • The enormously encouraging ways in which God was already ‘on the move’ amongst children
  • The full scope of what was required to fully disciple every child in every generation and some of the existing gaps in that dream
  • Some key partnering values which must guide our work together : Kingdom-minded, relational, servant-hearted, sacrificial, globally representative, empowering of local creativity and courageous about thinking differently
  • The need for prayerful, creative and strategic thinking to catalyse paradigm shifts across the church and mission fields
  • Four ‘Key Focus Areas’ of immediate concern: Empowering Children; Training; Resources and Advocacy

2010: Exciting initial accomplishments

This was a significant year, with considerable focus on accelerating our trust and relationships by working on some major projects together. These were largely focused around the Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism in Cape Town. GCF members were heavily involved in presentations about children during this gathering and several projects used this opportunity to launch on a global level.

During 2010, we launched:

  • There Are No Unreached Children (Lausanne discussion paper)
  • TODAY video (advocating for the importance of children in the church)
  • 1for50 training vision (training at least 1 discipler for every 50 children – see www.1for50.net)
  • 2fish5bread discs (open source resources, free from cost, logos and copyright restrictions)

2011-2012: Gaining new understanding and branching out

We were challenged as we explored Jesus’ interaction with children and inspired by the innovative ways that several organisations have devised to hear and incorporate the perspectives of children. A small group also met to begin updating the Pattaya Scale to reflect our growing understanding. Our relationships with each other were deepened as we studied what God has to say about how we should love each other.

Our projects expanded as well. The ‘Empowering Children’ focus group trialled models of ‘Children’s Forums’, ‘KidsHubs’ (discipling alongside life skills) and ‘KidsHubsTV’ (televised versions of KidsHubs).  We also prioritised ‘Family’ as a new key focus area.

During these years we celebrated:

  • The Cape Town Commitment arising out of the Lausanne Congress in 2010 which included children as one of the six main priorities for the church in the coming decade
  • Being invited to become a global partner of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)
  • Passing the milestone of 1,000,000 downloads from the open-source website (www.max7.org) and the distribution of over 400,000 2fish5bread discs
  • 7,000 children’s workers trained through 1for50 events who have gone on to train as many as 150,000 others
  • The launching of a digital presence to be named ‘Aim Lower’, including a global journal, website and social media
  • The development of regional partnering efforts around children

2013-2015: A Time of Development

Our fifth global gathering in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2013 explored ways that the global process could help to catalyze regional partnering. Since then, several regional groups have begun in Africa which are focused on sharing resources and leading unique activities for children. Several other regional partnerships around the world continue to grow and have a positive impact.

A Lausanne Global Consultation on Children At Risk was held in Quite, Ecuador in November 2014. This was lead by several GCF members in partnership with a very wide representation from thinkers, and doers in this field. Significant papers will be release in 2015.

The other Project Teams are also very active:

  • The Max7 website is going through a major revision to better handle this large library of resources.
  • Family Country Conversations have begun, bringing together individuals and organisations focused on families.
  • KidsHubs and KidsHubsTV launched their websites and continue to develop more resources being used to disciple children
  • The 1for50 initiative is now active in 50+ countries and is busy writing new training resources.
  • Final preparations are being completed for a 1-year Leadership Experience for about 20 Children’s Ministry Leaders.