In 2015, Samantha Shapiro wrote a fascinating article for The New York Times on the phenomenon of Brazil’s child preachers, of which there are thousands. Shapiro profiles a handful of them, including 11-year-old Alani Santos, who has, according to her parents, been performing healing miracles since infancy; Alex Silva, who at 13 was preaching to an audience of half a million; and Mathaeus Moraes who at 10, was selling up to 1,000 DVDs of his sermons a month.
As these children show, there’s money to be made if your young son is remarkably adept at aping adult preachers and if devotees are convinced that your daughter can pour out miraculous healing, so it’s not surprising that some Brazilian parents are happy to throw their Pentecostal tykes into the spotlight. But why is there such a demand from those who don’t stand to profit from them? Why do the Pentecostal faithful flock to child preachers in a way that Catholics, Presbyterians, and virtually every other group on the Christendom spectrum don’t?
For most Christians (I hope), a pastor’s job is to teach his sheep who Christ is and what He has done for them, something that a pastor can only do once he’s developed sufficient understanding of the Scriptures and a sufficient ability to convey the truths therein — in other words, once he’s reached adulthood. Likewise, for sacramental Christians, proof of God’s love for us is found in baptism and the Lord’s Supper, where He unites us to Himself and His forgiveness.