Summit: 'No Future for Christianity If Kids Not Reached'

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SINGAPORE -- Young people between the ages of four and 14 have always responded to the gospel more readily than adults. Yet the church only dedicates a fraction of its efforts to reach them.

However, a growing number of church leaders in Singapore hopes to change the way they deal with children.

It's an entirely different way of telling the Bible story - Asian children using an iPad to read a Manga language comic book.

"We believe Manga is the language of the major unreached people group in the world, and that is the worldwide youth culture. It is their language," said Roald Lidal, with Nextmanga.com

Lidal, a Norwegian missionary, developed the "Manga Messiah" comic series after years of working in Japan.

When he started using a visual style young people understood, the results astonished him.

"It's far more effective than anything else we have ever had in the course of my 41 years of literature ministry, in any case," he told CBN News.

"And we get reports basically from all over the world from people who have accepted Christ," he said.

Lidal's literature ministry has already placed a million copies in the hands of school children in Uganda.

The need for new tools and new strategies to reach a new generation has drawn more than 1,000 Christian leaders from 93 nations to Singapore for the 4/14 Window Global Summit III.

They shared a sense of urgency about reaching children between the ages of four and 14 years old.

"Four through 14 is a very important age, because it is so responsive a time in the life of a young person that gets presented the gospel," explained Luis Bush, an evangelical author and one of the summit's organizers.

"One dramatic statement is related to, really, the future of Christianity itself, because if we don't reach this generation, there is no future for Christianity," he added.

The parade of new media products for reaching the young generation was led by the Christian Broadcasting Network's Superbook TV series, that was re-tooled for a contemporary audience.

"There's just such a huge, like pent up demand, hunger for this. I think it's going to be explosive" Mark McClendon, CBN's director for Indonesia, said.

Once children become followers of Christ, they themselves can become agents of change.

"I think one of the problems that we've had in our churches and ministries is that we've just sought to entertain children," said Dan Brewster, director for child advocacy for Compassion International.

"We've not paid attention to that tremendous resource that children represent," he said.

"I think the new thing about this movement is providing space for children to become the primary agents of mission for the 21st century," explained Bambang Budijanto, chairman of the 4/14 committee.

But for now, participants at the Singapore conference were leaving with a whole new set of tools and ideas for winning and mobilizing young people ages four thru 14 for Jesus Christ.

*Originally aired on September 17, 2011. 

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Stan Jeter

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CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.