Children, Youth and Mission

The IAMS study group Children, Youth and Mission was organised in the preparation of the 14th IAMS Assembly to be held in Seoul in August 2016. It was felt that the other IAMS study groups, as important as they are, have missed the young generation in its relation to the mission of the Church. The new group thus aims to fill this “generation gap” and focus on the various issues of children, adolescents and young people as viewed from the perspective of the Church and its mission.

Scope of work and organisations and scholars involved

Children, Youth and Mission study group’s work and research is defined by the work and research of different Christian organisations engaged in Christian mission with and along children and young people and in holistic Christian development of the young generation. These are organisations such as the Child Theology Movement, the 4/14 Window global initiative, the Holistic Child Development global alliance, and the various Mission and Youth movements and groups. The scholars and practitioners working in these communities, who have joined the new IAMS study group, are committed to continuing their work and research within the framework of the study group while shaping this work and research in missiological terms and attributing more inter-Christian perspective to the study of children, youth and mission.

The Child Theology Movement is very much concerned about the role and significance of children for the Christian faith, especially when reflecting on the narrative where Jesus put a child in the centre of the disciples when they were having a theological argument about greatness in the kingdom of God. It becomes clear that Jesus thought the child’s presence would give the disciples a clue to the essential truth they were missing. Occasionally over the centuries, the child has disturbed theologians at work, but has not been in a position to shape theology consistently.

In Child Theology, the scholars and the practitioners (esp. the residential children’s care center Mill Grove in London, UK, which is closely connected with the Child Theology Movement) are invited to take good note of the child in the midst as they think about, for, to, from and with God in Christ. The researchers embark afresh on the journey with Christ into the open secret of God in the world. They encourage all followers of Jesus Christ and others to explore and engage with this specific type of theology by various means, including:

– Facilitating workshops and consultations;

– Publishing printed and digital materials;

– Contributing to symposia, conferences, private meetings, development of curricula, etc;

– Holding open-ended theological conversations with partnering organisations and individuals, such as denominational leaders and thinkers, seminaries and other theological research and teaching institutions, organisations that work with and for children (advocacy, care, equipping).

The 4/14 Window Global Initiative refers to the demographic group from age four to fourteen years old, which is the most open and receptive to every form of spiritual and developmental input. The Initiative is in fact a global missions movement helping churches and families build strategy, community and resources for empowering the next generation of Christian leaders.  Its goal is to support churches in every nation to reach, rescue, root, and release children (the four R) into relationship with Jesus Christ and His ministry around the world.

The Nurturer is an emerging Christian movement within the 4/18 Window global initiative. Its slogan is “I am my brother and sister’s keeper” and it aims to release the power of children and youth where they become able to nurture new followers of Jesus Christ, especially within the framework of families and communities.

The Holistic Child Development global alliance is a voluntary group of seminaries, Bible schools, and other Christian academic institutions working together with researchers, trainers, practitioners, and other Christian leaders to create a global movement of academic programs in holistic child development. The Alliance scholars seek to bring together theological institutions, organisations and ministry influencers to advance the cause of children through holistic child development. The Alliance’s programmes focus on the following:

– Emphasizing on biblical and theological research and reflection as foundation for all courses and approaches to learning;

– Viewing children as present and visible, at the very heart of what the Scriptures say about God’s kingdom, the Church, and mission;

– Producing Christian leadership who view ministries to children as strategic to the mission and growth of the church;

– Providing opportunities to develop skill competencies in all aspects of ministry to children both inside and outside the church;

– Understanding the reality of the “4/18 Window”, thus carefully and sensitively promoting evangelism and discipleship of children as part of the caring strategies.

The various Mission and Youth groups and programmes are missionary and pastoral engagements and an apostolic movement recognised by the Whole Church. The movement aims to:

– Attract youth: to challenge young people to step out into their world and live their faith in concrete ways. Youth are called to make a difference in their communities through service, evangelization, and personalized attention to the needs of others;

– Form youth: the experience of the mission of the Church calling young people to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ, encountering His love and having a desire to bring that love to others;

– Launch youth: encountering Christ allows missionaries to bring Him to others, sharing His love and hope with all they come into contact with. The Mission and Youth movement challenges young people to follow Jesus Christ as modern day apostles being active members of the Church and ready to share the Gospel with the world.

The Lausanne Movement and its initiative Children at Risk also informs the activities and research the study group undertakes, esp. through the participation of the group’s members in the initiative and the formulations of the Lausanne Occasional Paper 66: Mission with children at risk.


In this way, the Children, Youth and Mission study group tries to bring forward important and timely issues characteristic of the mission of the Church to, with and along the growing generation so that everyone, young and old, become an active participant in the mission of God (Missio Dei) and in Jesus’ Great Commissioning. Our aim is through research, practical mission and caring work, publications, academic programmes and liaising with seminaries and other Christian theological schools to facilitate the various processes and research in the field of child, youth and mission, thus contributing to the overall missiological and theological understanding of the significance of the “little ones” for this life – a life in Jesus – and for the Kingdom of God as felt by the believers today and as revealed by Jesus Christ in His putting a child in our midst.


Seoul-2016 conference follow-up

Children, Youth and Mission study group’s publication of the papers presented at the 14-th IAMS Assembly in Seoul in 2016.

The IAMS’ study group Children, Youth and Mission is happy to announce that the papers that were presented at the 2016 conference in Seoul have now been published in a separate book under the authorship of IAMS and the study group’s conveners. The book’s title is Conversion and Transformation: Children and Youth in Mission Contexts, and it includes 11 chapters. Here you can find more about the publication.

We were happy to have a South African publisher who made the book possible: Christian Literature Fund. The publication was announced at the publisher’s website, and they also provided the full text of the Foreword and the Introduction.

The book can be ordered at the publisher’s website.


In preparation for the IAMS’ 15-th Assembly in Sydney in July 2020

(it has already been announced that because of the Covid-19 pandemic,

the conference was postponed to July 2022 in Sydney)

In early 2019, members of the Children, Youth and Mission study group discussed different ways in which this small research community could better prepare for the next IAMS’ quadrennial conference, and it was decided that the publication of a book containing topics relevant to the IAMS-2020 Assembly and its general theme, “Powers, Inequalities and Vulnerabilities: Mission in a Wounded World”,  would best equip us in presenting the theme from the perspective of children and young people.

This made us again turn to our members and encourage them to do research and offer relevant papers for the new publication. As a result, we managed to compile a collection of papers containing 13 significant research pieces, and 2 additional chapters were included, too: one introductory and one concluding. The book was published by the AOSIS Publishers, South Africa, and was made available online at the publisher’s website. Here is the Table of Contents

of the New Book:

Powers, Inequalities and Vulnerabilities

Impact of globalisation on children, youth and families and on the mission of the church




Abbreviations Appearing in the Text and Notes – xvii

List of Abbreviations – xvii

Notes on Contributors – xix

Acknowledgements – xxvii


Chapter 1: Powers, inequalities and vulnerabilities: Mission in a wounded world – 1

Johannes J. Knoetze


Part 1: Perspectives on globalisation and its impact on children, youth and families – 17

Chapter 2: Exploring social constructs and the lives of street children – 19

Greg W. Burch

Chapter 3: Globalisation and youth: Restructuring identity formation and religiosity – 39

Anita Cloete

Chapter 4: Christ-connected discipleship as comfort in a globalised world with a fear of missing out – 57

Johannes J. Knoetze

Chapter 5: Globalisation and politics: The shift in traditional values and its impact on families and children of Christian background in Europe – 75

Valentin Kozhuharov

Chapter 6: The impact of pornography on Cambodian youth through the globalisation of technology – 99

Glenn Miles & Christa F. Crawford


Part 2: Perspectives on mission and its impact on children, youth and families – 121

Chapter 7: Neuroplasticity, pneumatology and the church as a therapeutic community – 123

John Baxter-Brown

Chapter 8: On becoming ‘home’ for the destitute: An African congregation-based missional and pastoral perspective on families uprooted by migration – 143

Alfred R. Brunsdon

Chapter 9: Child sacrifice: The life or death of a civilisation – 163

Ignatius W. Ferreira

Chapter 10: Community engagement addressing powers, inequalities and vulnerabilities: A missional approach – 187

Fazel E. Freeks

Chapter 11: Globalisation, education and children in Indian context: Challenges for mission – 209

Jesudason B. Jeyaraj

Chapter 12: A practical theological narration of the spiritual narratives of adolescent orphaned boys in South Africa in the construction of a spiritual self – 233

Juanita Meyer

Chapter 13: The necessity of intergenerational dialogue on social justice within the South African church – 267

Shantelle Weber

Chapter 14: ‘Who am l?J: Finding identity in a globalised world – 293

Keith J. White

Chapter 15: Conclusion: The International Association for Mission Studies and this book – 311

Valentin Kozhuharov


References – 321

Index – 353



Please feel free to download the book and benefit from its research achievements!


Children, youth and mission study group’s Convener:
Hannes Knoetze
Email: hannes.Knoetze[@]

Cara Pfeiffer

Please feel free to contact us and also join us in our efforts to more efficiently and successfully develop issues of child, youth and mission, thus serving every community in local context and in every part of the world.