Ronni Lamont – Faith and Nurture Adviser
To be a Christian is to ask: what can I bring to another? Not: what do I want that person to know or be?
John Westerhoff III “Will our Children Have Faith?”
Too much of our approach to ministry with children and young people has focussed on outcomes – knowing the bible stories, showing the cotton wool sheep, growing the number of bums on pews. There is instead a new movement towards focussing on the process of encouraging the formation of faith through experience. Murray, Ronni and the ChYP’s Ministry Team would welcome any opportunity to explore what faith formation might look like in your context.
It will certainly be more than simply learning about God.
It will certainly be more than being in church services.
It might not look the same everywhere save for the common, undeniable feature of relationship.
It is unfair to offer a short paragraph as a summary of this growing field of research but with that warning in place:
In short, and somewhat simplistically, the research into children’s spirituality over recent years has rather overwhelming shown that children are spiritual. They have an innate spirituality that is often missed because they do not have the language skills or vocabulary to describe their sense of the other. Those of us grown ups who have the language ability are outpaced by the experience of our young people because we have been conditioned by our up-bringing to suppress and even disregard our own inherrent spirituality. Rediscovering our own spirituality is key to recognising and encouraging it in the children and young people we serve.
There are a number of excellent books available in the ChYP’s Ministry Library on the topic of Children’s Spirituality and it is a topic that is informing the work of the ChYP’s Ministry Team.
If you would like Murray or Ronni to come and lead a session on children’s spirituality please contact Sarah to set up a date.
One of the outcomes of the research in Children’s Spirituality has been some work done by David M. Csinos, which is now known as Spiritual Styles. Like learning styles, it is a descriptive tool but in this case it is one way of describing our innate approach to worship and spiritual expression. There are four spiritual styles and those who have done the questionairre have spoken of the impact it has had on how they view their own approach to worship. The book ‘Children’s Ministry that fits’ by David M. Csinos is available to borrow from the ChYP’s Ministry Library or if you would like to know more please contact Murray or Ronni.
LISTEN: participation tools for church communities
Produced by the Going for Growth project at Church House, Westminster, this participation toolkit is a growing collection of tools designed to help churches listen to the missing voices in the life of their church.
Due to be published in September, these ideas are tried and tested and sure to help you discover more about the children and young people in your church and community.
For those church have never attempted any significant participation exercise please consider drawing on the experience of any schools in your parish, who generally have great expertise in participation.
Please do keep an eye out for this exciting new resource in the Autumn. For more info contact the ChYP’s Ministry Team.
Faith in the home
We may be spending too much time looking for Timothy’s and not enough time looking for their mother and grandmothers.
Phyllis Tickle at Faith Forward Conference, 2014
The anxiety about educating children and young people in the ways of our faith has led to an isolated model of ministry that has emphasised the difference of age and development along educational lines. As effective children’s, youth and even young adult programmes were established there has been a subsequent lack of emphasis on the place of faith in the home.
How can individual churches support the parents in our communities share and encourage faith in their homes?
What appropriate support can we give to the wider family: grandparents, Godparents, non-parents?