As Hope for Europe 2022 gathering that is planned to be held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina on October 4-8 approaches, REC Network prepared an informational text that seeks to provide valuable insights into the network’s vision, plans and current challenges. The text will be part of the Hope for Europe 2022 ‘White paper’ introducing all 17 thematic networks and it goes as follows:
The European Children’s Ministry Network, otherwise known as Reaching Europe’s Children (REC) is a community of children’s ministry practitioners seeking to inspire, equip and resource churches, ministries, and parents in reaching and discipling children.
Advocate, Inspire, Equip
The REC core team was formed of representatives of ministries with a vision to
- Advocate on behalf of children’s ministries to the European Evangelical Alliance leadership and National Evangelical Alliance (NEA) leaders
- Inspire, equip, and resource children’s ministry champions and practitioners from across Europe
- Mobilize ministries in partnering initiatives on a European and national level
- Actively represent the European children’s ministries on global partnership movements:
- Global Children’s Forum
- 4-14 Window Global Movement
- Global Family Alliance
One of the means to advancing these objectives was the organization of two European Congresses which could also serve as a model for national conferences: in Barcelona in 2013 and near Budapest in 2018. As we gather for a REC network consultation and the HOPE for Europe Experience in Sarajevo, we want to achieve the following outcomes:
- Renew and strengthen the leadership team and expand the REC Community and identify next steps to build on what has been achieved so far.
- Outline goals for our next European Conference to fit current needs in Europe.
- Connect with other global partnerships and contribute to a shared vision for the Church and a joint response to the Ukrainian Refugee Crisis.
We also want to address the following challenges:
- Form stronger links to National Evangelical Alliances (NEAs) with a view to having representation on each NEA team.
- Facilitate more cross-pollination sharing and exchange with other EEA-Hope for Europe networks especially family, women, educators, disability, refugees…
- Provide an online support network with a growing resource platform and host regular online webinars to address hot topics (gender issues and sexuality, etc) and other important needs in the church (missional families, equipping children to disciple, etc) and present effective new methods and resources.
The Global Church is experiencing a Discipleship Crisis as never before where as few as 10% of youth in our Christian families and churches are considered as having a clear and “resilient” faith while a shocking 22% are prodigals who have walked away from the faith altogether. (Faith for Exiles, 2019, David Kinnaman and Mark Matlock). Many parents and church leaders are fearful and intimidated in today’s often toxic culture left feeling devastated, defeated, and discouraged by this reality.
We need an awakening by God of all the generations in the Church today to see things from God’s perspective and discover how He would have us intentionally and proactively work together to more effectively nurture our children to become resilient, lifelong disciples of Jesus and unconditionally love and reclaim our prodigal children. This is not a time for despair but for hope and decisive action.
Never has the Church been so well connected, resourced, and positioned to meet the challenges of equipping and empowering all the generations together. However, we must choose to unite our strengths and proactively partner to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to every person on the planet, addressing needs in every sphere of society, and bringing a message of hope and transformation to the now and next generations.
The last 2 years with the Covid pandemic have left the church weakened in some areas and stronger in others. The return of younger families to church gatherings appears slow and is of growing concern to church leaders. Families in society have been under great pressure and are struggling with the mental health issues that are surfacing as a result. The invasion of Russia in Ukraine has sent shock waves across Europe and around the globe with more unforeseen consequences ahead.
Recent years in ministry have revealed new biblical understanding and ways to apply what the Bible teaches about nurturing children in the faith. With concerted efforts, we can more easily identify effective models of ministry in the home and the community, and strategic opportunities for family involvement in God’s ever-growing and community-transforming Kingdom. We invite you to