Is your family at the sub-replacement fertility level?

How many siblings do you have? If you’re a typical American family, you probably have only one (or perhaps one-third of a sibling). If you have no siblings, your parents have not even replaced their own number in the population. If so, your family is at the “sub-replacement fertility” level. Sounds kind of like science fiction, I know.

Sub-replacement fertility is a term referring to the condition when the total fertility rate (TFR) is not high enough to replace an area’s population. In other words, when couples are having fewer children than what it takes to replace themselves, that is “sub-replacement fertility.” Roughly speaking it takes 2.33 children per woman in order to reach replacement level. Each couple needs to bear two children, plus one-third of an extra child for good measure (okay, no jokes about the one-third child, please) in order to replace themselves.

In the ‘70s, at the height of the feminist movement, U.S. fertility rates dropped to an all-time low of 1.6 among non-Hispanic whites. Although that level has risen slightly, it is still below replacement level. Thanks to the Hispanic fertility rate (2.89), our TFR as a nation is now closer to replacement level than it has been in decades.

Why am I flooding you with all of these stats? Are you yawning yet? Well, if you can wake up for a bit, I’ll share with you why this matters. It matters because Jesus loves the little children.

God’s mandate to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) still applies today. Jesus’ heart for children as expressed in passages where He invites them into His arms (Mark 10:13–16) is the heart of one who celebrates little ones.

God’s desire for us to “be fruitful and multiply” goes beyond literally having children or even adopting children. God desires for us to bear children in order to disciple them. Making disciples of our own children (and others under our care) is a primary way to fill the whole earth with God’s glory!

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).

Imagine if every Christian couple determined to have a houseful of children and then made discipling those children their first priority. Wow! What do you think our world would start to look like?

About Author

Kimberly Wagner is married to LeRoy Wagner, the pastor of Dayspring Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They have two children, Rachel and Caleb. Kim has a BA in Biblical Studies, serves as a pastor's wife, has authored Fierce Women, is a women's Bible study teacher and conference speaker, and is a frequent panel guest on Revive Our Hearts.

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