group at assessment

Stadia Values: The Next Generation

Feb 2, 2022

The heat of a day on top of the Earth’s equator made the shade of the building seem cool—although it was nearly 90 degrees inside. The room was packed with kids, moms, dads, and a good size group of visitors from the U.S. that Stadia brought to experience the intersection of new churches and children. The excitement added a few degrees and the body heat a few more.

Pure refreshment came as the church pastor introduced the team who operated the child development center in his church building. He brought them to the stage in groups of 3 or 4 and, with the pride of a grandfather explained each of their roles in caring for kids. Some of the teams were being sent to start new churches. Young men and women who had grown up in this child development program were now at various stages of starting new churches in the countryside around. When he was done, the line of staff, shoulder to shoulder, stretched nearly 100 feet across the front of the room.

And it hit me, every one of these bright young leaders were kids in the development program just a few short years ago.

Even the older women and men were no more than 10 years beyond high school age. This church on the outskirts of Quito was multiplying and the new church leaders were all taught how to follow Jesus, use their gifts, serve others, and lead the church right here in this development center. I would guess there were nearly 50 of them. Handsome, well-groomed, well-dressed, smiling, bright eyes and warm spirits that exuded an attractiveness that was magnetic.

The next generation was leading a multiplication movement right in front of our eyes. When starting new churches and children are valued together, transforming the world seems possible.

In 2015, a survey (Suarey, 2020) discovered that 63% of Christians accepted Jesus between the ages of 4 and 14-years-old. A study by the Barna Group found that the majority of Christians (64 percent) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday and 77% of all followers of Jesus in the West began that journey before age 21 (Chang, 2004). Sometimes known as the 4-14 Window, the reality is recognized as a key time frame of opportunity to introduce children to Christ. Decisions during these years are more likely to have a lasting impact.

Not only is this 4-14 Window the time when young children are more likely to embrace Christianity, it is also the time frame during which they will form first impressions and emotional connections with the church. These formative experiences can potentially last a lifetime and shape the trajectory of the Church as well as the followers of Jesus that populate churches. Sometimes a child might not accept Christ between the ages of 4 and 14, and might walk away from the church entirely for a while. Yet, his or her return one day is largely related to their first impressions when they were younger. The impact that kindness and solid teaching can have in a child’s life should not be underestimated. Best provided by parents, but certainly underscored and supplemented by a congregation of loving adults, a child’s experience with Jesus in those impressionable, early years is powerful and transformative for a lifetime.

This reality, that most people’s decision to accept Jesus and follow Him is made early, is compellingly coupled with another: More than 1 billion children alive today have no access to Jesus and His story of love.[1] That’s not to say that the other children alive today have all been reached, but 1 billion have no chance to hear or learn the Gospel from any steady, nurturing, sustainable source. For Stadia, an organization that purposes to serve those who start new churches, almost nothing rises to the urgency of making sure that every child on the planet can engage a church nearby.

Proximity and posture are both keys to starting churches that are intentional and strategic about the next generation. One of Stadia’s key partners, serving in unnamed countries, titles their reports of progress “Achieve,” A Church In Every Village Everywhere.[2] For those most familiar with the United States, the absence of the church in vast portions of the globe is an invisible truth.

Not so with God. The impact of bringing new churches to previously unreached and unengaged people is crucial to God’s mission. Jesus chose this mandate for his “big close” when he said “as you go into all the world, share everything I have given you…” (Matthew, circa A.D. 75-90) with all the world. Give them everything Jesus told us—meaning each unreached neighbor is valued and every neighborhood worldwide is of vital importance. Transformation of our world hinges on establishing the Church in every tribe, using every language, reaching all nations.

In every context, how we position the value of children is also of vital importance. Children can be predictably reached with the story of Jesus and universally reflect humble acceptance of His Lordship. Children often influence the adults in their lives to consider Jesus’ claims and demonstrate simple faith that is powerful to form and reform hearts. Rather than relegating the next generation to being on the fringe or around the edges of strategy, we take a cue from Jesus who identified the value of children with great clarity in Luke 15 (The Message):

15-17 People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.”

In the next decade, the leaders of the churches we help start are children we can serve and reach today. They are curious, in need, and formable. They are scattered worldwide by the millions—more than 1 billion who have no access to what we must share in Jesus. And the coming generation, as much as any cohort of humanity that has ever lived, are the Father’s “pride and joy.”

That’s why, for Stadia and our every-growing team of partners, we won’t stop, until every child has a church.

[1] World population as of January 18, 2021 was 7.921 billion (, 2021). Wikipedia identifies 31.1% of people alive today as Christian (Wikipedia, 2022) leaving 68.9%, or 5.458 billion as non-Christian. Projections indicate approximately 33.1% of the world population is less than 20 years old (Ang, 2021), meaning there are more than 1 billion children who have no exposure to Christianity by heritage or geographical proximity.

[2] Name withheld for purposes of security.

Brent Foulke

Brent Foulke


Brent mobilizes people and groups to resource the Stadia mission. His church planting adventure began in 1991 when he and his wife Kay were called to plant in Albany, NY. Determined to help start a movement, Brent and the young Albany congregation, known as Christ’s Church, engaged with others to plant in Nashua, NH a few years later, then in Poughkeepsie, NY, Binghamton, NY and by the end of a decade as far away as Gaithersburg, MD where 22 disciples moved on mission. After coaching dozens of church planters sponsored by churches, foundations and church planting agencies, Brent left the staff of Christ’s Church to work full time facilitating new churches throughout the U.S. He served three years as Executive Director of the Exponential Conference before joining Stadia as an executive and working in a variety of ways to advance the Stadia mission. Brent and Kay continue to call Upstate NY home where they live near their daughters Keenan and Kyrin (Dom, Zinnia), garden together, and travel to visit their children and grandchildren in Colorado (Ben, Katie, Zachary, Liam, Annalyn) and St. Louis (Brendon, Amanda, Morgan, Grahm, Jack).