Saturday, July 26, 2008

Certificate in Child Studies (6)

Teaching a module in child studies again reinforce a conviction that I am beginning to understand in the last few years of the importance of the spirituality and spiritual formation of children. Somehow, in our busy churches, we have neglected the spirituality and spiritual formation of children, relegating them to a few volunteers running children ministries.

First, I believe that children are as important as adults in our churches. Our churches are inter-generational churches but somehow the majority of resources are given to adult focused ministries. Children ministries are sometimes not more than child care, where the children are taken care of when their parents attend worship service or church programs.

Second, I believe that children's spiritual formation starts in their mother's womb. This means that children's ministries starts at marriage counselling and continues into adult spiritual formation. In order to develop the spirituality and spirituality of children, children's ministry should include the following

  • antenatal classes where the spirituality of the mothers are deepened (one cannot underestimate the role of the mother in the development of the unborn child)
  • parenting classes
  • ministries to 0-2 years old
  • ministries to 2-5 years old
  • ministries to 5-8 years old
  • ministries to 9-12 years old
  • ministries to teens
  • ministries to university students
  • ministries to young adults

There is a need to divide into these smaller groups because ministries much be appropriate to their mental and spiritual development. Age-appropriate ministries is important because of development in our understanding of stages in development of the human person. No longer must we utilise a 'one size fit all' children ministry.

Third, ministries for spirituality and spiritual formation for children should be holistic. It must be age-appropriate and relevant to the stages of their needs. Children are not little adults and should not be treated as such. Children should be introduced to Scripture, their awareness of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit through contact with God fearing adults. This means we screen our volunteers and not accept just anyone who volunteers. This also means we do not manipulate or indoctrinate the children. We must not use guilt or shame to get their co-operations.

Finally, we must be sensitive to making children 'accept Christ'. Children should be allowed to grow into their 'conversion' rather than forced either through peer pressure or adult pressure to 'accept Christ' without fully comprehending what this implies. While it will be wonderful to report on the number of 'decisions made for Christ', it will be even more wonderful to see the work of the Holy Spirit work in the lives of children.


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