Making disciples in the 4/14 window
Lauren Pratt | August 16, 2017
The 4/14 Window may not be the first area that comes to mind when thinking about the Great Commission.
However, it’s the age range where most people make a decision to follow Christ and was coined by Luis Bush in 2008, the same catalyst who presented the idea of the 10/40 Window.
The 4/14 Window is the heartbeat of what Stephanie Jackson, director of children’s ministries at North Wake Church, has been passionately pursuing for the past 14 years. Jackson oversees nearly 200 kids and 90 volunteers that attend the 27-year-old church in Wake Forest.
In 2006, she came to The College at Southeastern to study biblical studies and history with a focus in education and believes children’s ministry is one of the greatest mission fields on which a church can focus.
“You have a whole bunch of souls that need to hear the gospel and come to Christ and it’s right there,” said Jackson. “Why would we not consider wanting to invest in that?”
Jackson herself was impacted by the children’s ministry in a local church as a child. She first decided to follow Christ as a sixth grader and at a young age was volunteering her time in children’s ministry.
“Being able to come back and serve in this role as a mature believer and as an adult has been a fantastic blessing because that was my first joy in the church,” she said.
With six church plants and roughly 40 missionary units overseas, North Wake is making an impact all across the world.
One way the church is making an influence locally is through The Runner’s Camp, a track and field event for ages 6-12. The camp has become a pinnacle at North Wake for outreach in its local community each summer. Started by North Wake outreach Pastor Rob Craig back in 1998, the camp allows kids in the community to come participate in races and various games while also hearing the gospel.
This past summer marks 20 years that the camp has been in existence and to celebrate this milestone, the camp was held three separate times throughout June and July. The Runner’s Camp has grown exponentially over the years, increasing from 43 campers in its first year to a total of more than 900 this past summer.
“It has been a fantastic outreach and it has been something that has really allowed us to be in the Wake Forest community and we have so many lost kids who come to it,” said Jackson.
According to Craig, 90 percent of campers who come to The Runner’s Camp are from outside of the church and, sometimes, outside of the country.
“This is year 20 and God continues to bless it, every year continuing to reach out to new families,” said Craig.
But beyond reaching the local community for Christ, North Wake is helping kids understand the importance of taking the gospel overseas to those who have never heard. North Wake kids have the chance to pray for missionary kids and their families from the church as well as send them gifts.
“It really helps missions become real for our kids here at North Wake to know, ‘Hey, there’s a kid just like me in Southeast Asia that is sharing the gospel with their neighbors just like I’m here in America sharing with my neighbors,’” said Jackson.
Kids at North Wake even get to hear from their peers when they come back from the mission field during the church’s annual missions conference.
“Whenever they see an 8-year-old come in, who’s an 8-year-old just like them, and get to hear about their life in Southeast Asia or Africa or wherever they are, it makes it really real,” said Jackson.
Jackson now has the opportunity to provide support to others children’s ministry leaders like herself through the Children’s Ministry Mentorship, which she started in August of this year.
The mentorship provides a supportive community of fellow leaders who discuss various aspects of children’s ministry each month. Jackson hopes that by providing this type of monthly support for leaders, they will be equipped and compelled to remain in ministry, rather than leave – the very reason she began the mentorship.
“We just really want for the Children’s Ministry Mentorship to be something that’s very practical, something that these children’s leaders who are feeling burnt out can come to and be refreshed,” said Jackson.
For Jackson, ministry support has also come from her senior pastor, Larry Trotter, and elders within the church, making a huge difference and influence in her leadership.
“I think that’s a really powerful thing to the church, too, to see that the elders see the value of children’s ministry enough to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be there for you and pray for you guys and make sure that you’re encouraged and stuff before you start your year,’” said Jackson. “That’s definitely one of the things that has helped me to be able to stay and have this long tenure.”
*Photo by Craig Morrisette
From our local community to the outermost parts of the world, Southeastern students and alumni are reaching people with the gospel by fulfilling the Great Commission. Using the model of Acts 1:8, we want to highlight these stories of how our Southeastern family is serving in North Carolina, North America and around the world. Acts 1:8 Stories create a collective and consistent way to tell the story of Southeastern, one person at a time. From local pastors to missionaries among the unreached, God is doing a great work among students and alumni. Where are they now and where are they going? We can’t wait for you to find out!