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The U.S. total fertility rate has been declining for the past 10 years. The number of women giving birth has hit a historic low. In 2016, the general fertility rate hit a record low of 62 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. In 2015, it was 62.5

One factor is this. Millennials, who are the new generation of young adults, are getting married later. The average age for men is 29 and 27 for women. So far, Millennials are much less likely to have babies. There is speculation about whether they are just postponing parenthood or simply choosing to not have children at all.

Another interesting factor to watch and keep in mind is the number of unmarried women who are giving birth. This includes single moms and mothers who are cohabiting. In 2015, 39.7% of all babies born in the U.S. were born to unmarried women. This also varies a great deal according to race and ethnicity. Women of Asian descent had the lowest proportion of births to unmarried women

If we’re going to reach today’s babies and their parents, we must be a church that celebrates diversity. Everyone should feel welcomed and accepted, no matter their social status, age, ethnicity or marriage status. We must also be place where single moms can come and belong even before they believe.

While there are fewer babies being born, this doesn’t mean there still aren’t lots of babies and their families that need to be reached with the Gospel. Gen Z, today’s kids, are still the largest generation on the planet and we must be focused on reaching them.

If you want to see your nursery filled with babies and your church connecting with young parents, then here are some articles that can help you. My prayer is your nursery will be blessed with lots of little ones. Make it a priority. Your church’s future depends on it.

Social media. Gen Z’s self image is closely tied to social media. Who is "liking" them? Who is following them? How many followers do they have? What comments are they receiving? Who is clicking on their posts? This can create pressure for Gen Z.

Whereas previous generations were free to roam the hallways of their church and rushed out after service (on their own) to play, Gen Z has to wait for their parents to present a security tag. And in many cases, they walk past a police officer guarding the hallway of the children’s area.

Teach Gen Z that they are valuable to God and He cares about them. Help them untie their self-worth from social media and the opinions of others and link it to how God feels about them. Show them how much God cares for them by using verses like this.

Teach Gen Z that God controls the future. Anxiety says,"will I be able to secure a good job when I finish college one day?" Anxiety says,"will I even be able to go to college?" Anxiety says, "will I even survive high school without being shot? Anxiety says, "do I have any kind of future?"

(Luke 12:25) Show Gen Z what they can accomplish through God’s power rather than their own. Much of the anxiety that Gen Z is facing is coming from the voices inside their own head. Doubt. Insecurity. Fear. These things can dominate their thoughts.

Here’s what they found. By simply following up the activity with the word " WHY," the kids were able to learn more effectively. This one word caused the kids to think on a deeper level because they were asking them to elaborate on something they have observed or been told.

Parents. I know you hear the word "why" a lot. Especially if your children are younger. As you’re reading them a devotion, you’ll hear "Why this?" and "Why that?" Don’t look at those "why’s" as a bother, but rather as an opportunity to help your child build a strong faith foundation. In fact, don’t wait for them to ask why. Take the initiative and ask them first.

The truth is, if we’ll start lecturing less and start guiding kids through the "why’s," we can see a lot more kids develop a faith that will last. I was very intentional about writing in a lot of "why’s" into the curriculum we developed. You can see samples and get it at this link.

Think about this. Jesus asked a lot of questions when He taught, communicated and interacted with people. And often when asked a question, He would respond with a question. The Master Teacher knew the power of "why" long before the psychologists in California did. Here are just a few examples of the Master Teacher using the word "why."

Do this to see the need more clearly. Work with the student ministry at your church to track how many kids who graduated from your elementary ministry are now plugged into student ministry. I can pretty much guarantee you that there will be a percentage missing because they slipped through the cracks during or right after the transition.

Start building the relational connection early. Pre-teens are already insecure. Add to that transitioning into a new area and you’ve got the recipe for a royal freak out. Pre-teens are wondering if they will fit in. Will anyone know them? Will they make friends? Will they be accepted?

Ask your children’s ministry volunteers to be involved in the transition. Your children’s ministry volunteers have a relational connection with the pre-teens. Cast vision to them for helping pre-teens they have invested in make the transition into middle school successfully.

Get student ministry teenage leaders involved. This is a great opportunity to see teenagers serve and reach back to influence the pre-teens who are following them. An upcoming 6th grade girl looks up to and admires an upcoming senior in high school. That’s who she wants to be.

This transition is one of the key times when parents are wide-open to your insight, encouragement and help. One of the best things you can do to help pre-teens make the transition into middle school is to help their parents make the transition as well.

You can make an event like this really, really effective by asking student ministry to host it with you. Student ministry leaders can be involved in helping teaching the class, greeting parents as they arrive, answering questions, giving an overview of the vision of student ministry, etc.

Equip kids and parents for their middle school years. As mentioned above, pre-teens and parents are entering new territory in their relationship. Many parents try to parent their teenager just like they parented them when they were 9-years-old. They simply just don’t know.

Celebrate the transition and make it memorable. As part of the elementary graduation celebration, parents have the opportunity to write out and speak a blessing over their child. It’s a memorable moment and lots of tears of joy and love are shed.

You can also make the transition celebration memorable for families by taking pictures and having a small gift for each pre-teen who is graduating. One of my favorites to give is a necklace that has a dog tag. The dog tag has the children’s ministry logo on one side and the student ministry logo on the other side. It’s a symbol of the two blending to become one.

Please…please…please remember this. The front lines of the battle for the next generation is no longer in high school, but in the transition from elementary to middle school. Let’s be there for pre-teens and help them to continue following Jesus for the rest of their life.