Saturday, December 31, 2005

Culture and IMing

According to Kidiology (and I agree) it's very important for children's ministers to stay up on kid culture. At Artisan you have to IM to keep up with the adult culture. After avoiding IMing for years, I'm getting it. If George (and Gary) use it for work maybe I should, too. Wonder of wonders my computer still runs at normal speed and it absolutely has it's advantages, especially if you spend the better part of the day on the computer anyway.

I always thought it was too confusing to type, read, think and converse with multiple people in multiple conversations at the same time. (Multi-tasking pales in comparison.) I don't even like call waiting. :)

Before I talk myself out of it again. . . the good news is that so far, one person at a time is working. I even managed to proof-read my last message before I pushed "send". My sixty-two year year old aunt learned email and IM before I did because she didn't want her grandchildren to be able to do things that she couldn't. Her father, my grandfather, was born in 1900. Pretty amazing.

This is what I'm still confused about.
I am iming,We are iming, You are iming,He/She is iming, They are iming
I/we im , You im,He/She ims,They im....
I/we imed, You imed, He/she/they imed

I left out a hyphen, right? We already thought English was hard.

Decisions, Decisions!

I'm on chapter 6 in Children's Spirituality. The chapters on children in congregations and the intergenerational community are Chapters 16 and 17. Trying to decide whether to skip ahead and then go back or to continue one chapter at a time. The book is nicely set up so I can skip around and read the parts that I'm most interested in. But it's all very rich. Don't want to miss anything!

Happy New Year!

Puppies on vacation pt 2

Their ears go straight up. Their tales go straight. They listen. Someone upstairs gets up for a few minutes and it's quiet again. You can just see the disappointment on their black fuzzy faces.

Around 10 or 11 someone leaves the door to the stairs open about 3 inches and I hear a swish and Nyah's gotten so good you don't even hear her puppy paws on the stairs anymore. But somewhere upstairs someone is suddenly dreaming of an earthquake and opens their eyes to see a smiling eager black puppy face and a long tongue and I hear one voice after the other cry, "Mom! Make them come down!" I smile.

Well, these puppies still have their number. Every half hour as a different kid comes down they're sitting by the door like they haven't gone out for hours. Last week each of the kids would enthusiastically say, "Oh, poor puppy! Do you want to go out?" The puppies go out and run around for a half hour." Come in and so it goes x 5.

This week someone gets up, they look at the puppies. Then they gp find the last person to get up and say, "Have they gone out yet?" and the last person just looks at them and nods. What's not to love?

When everyone leaves and the puppies are stuck with just me again, vacation's over!

Puppies on vacation pt 1

Trying to decide whether to do separate blogs about writing and puppies. But I suppose doing it here gives you a break from all those long heavy blogs. :)

All the kids are home, my puppies are thrilled. And my kids were thrilled with the beginning.

The last couple of nights I've heard puppies whining at 2 am. Now, these puppies have been sleeping all night since we brought them home in August unless they're sick or have to go out which is rare. They've been good every other time the kids were home. But the thing about college students is that they're nocturnal.

So it's 2 am and I hear the puppies whining. Like a good parent I decide to let them whine. When they don't stop, I finally get up and let them out. They sniff around, "Oh! _____ went out with ________ around 10. They got home around 12. ____ went to Walmarts at 5 in the afternoon. It's a dog thing. I bring them back in to bed. They whine some more, I let them whine...sound familiar?

So after I go through this a couple times, and give in again so they won't wake George up, I check to see if everyone's home. Someone says, "Mom, I let them whine for a while but I them out twice before you got up. Sorry they woke you up."

So a couple hours later, everything's quiet and I go back to sleep but I have my own internal alarm clock that wakes me up around 6:15. So the puppies are sound asleep. I could be sleeping. They get up around 8 and they mull around bored. They keep going to the door on the stairs like little kids with young sleeping aunts and uncles. They want someone to play with them. Mom doesn't cut it! They whine. They mull around bored. George gets up. They're happy for a while. They start mulling around. Then they both freeze.

Friday, December 30, 2005


These are from the most recent Faithweavers newsletter, (free from Group Publishing):

"It is important to build community in the church through your children’s ministry programs. Getting everyone involved makes each person know that he or she plays an important role in kids’ lives."

"When you build community in your church you’re building relationships, and relationships with one another help us to grow stronger in our faith."

Interesting, because they're including kids in community but coming at it from the opposite direction - connecting different generations through kids' ministry rather than including kids in multi-generational community activities. I just thought it was interesting. :-)

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Here's another aside. (This isn't exactly taking up Lisa's meme but almost...) I checked out the profiles on my new commentors. (They have profiles and links to their names that work. Very nice!) All these young staff member blogs and photos say "energy!" I checked out Kidiology. More energy!

So I check out all these blogs, have 5 college and almost college-aged kids and their friends home for Christmas and two 6 month old puppies (I love these kids! Love having them home!) . We're part of a church made up of mostly college students and young couples, young families and energetic church planters and I'm looking at all the energy I don't have. :) Actually, I have all my energy between 6 am and about 2 in the afternoon and I'm putting most of it on paper at this point in my life.

I just wanted to say three cheers for children's ministers! Kids really should have young children's ministers or at least a staff with alot of young adult volunteers. Three cheers! "Energy" probably belongs somewhere at the top of the job application! Right? Somewhere before passion, vision, and experience?

The Lord bless you with whatever energy you need when you need it!


The Narnia movie is absolutely a "must see!" (if you like Narnia). Might be a little scary for smaller folk, depending on what they're used to watching.

Lisa wrote a great review at Lisa's Blog (Dec. 17th) . Besides all the things Lisa said about the movie, I thought Aslan was well-done and I loved the landscape and the way they did time and place.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Value of Children

Shelley Campagnola has a business degree. She's a Mennonite pastor and Chair of the Children's Ministry forum with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. She's working on her doctorate.

After looking at select Old and New Testament passages and ways that God gave value to children in Hebrew culture in ways that the surrounding cultures didn't, she looks at the child that Jesus pointed to when they asked Him who was the greatest in the Kingdom of God and she says,
"The child is... not included in the inner circle of those who think they have the way to God . . .
The child is ... not considered eligible for recognition or participation and thus does not seek those.
The child is powerless, voiceless, defenseless, claimless, forgotten and forsaken.
The child is the one who is brought to Jesus, not one who assumes access.
The child is the one pulled out of the gutter by a hand that says he does not belong there even when everyone else says he does. . ."
Then she says, "The disciples were called to become as little children..." (Ratcliff, Donald ed. Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p 86-87)

The disciples were called to become like these little children... which leaves me asking new questions...

People working with children in children's ministry are focused on children in ways that other people aren't. We look at all these great things that people share about kids and faith and say, "Of course!" All of this talk about Jesus and children and priorities make perfect sense to us and we get excited!

I'm working with wonderfully supportive young leaders who want their children and all the children who pass through Artisan to be involved in community worship and community life as much as possible, yet just like the rest of the church there always seem to be things that are "more important." More so, because they're starting a new church. Despite our willingness, we have the same battles to fight as any other church. We fight the same battles at home to give kids the time and attention they need and deserve.

Staying Christ-centered as opposed to being "child-centered" has it's own battles.

People who get excited about children and what Jesus says about children are doing children's ministry. But are we sent to walk out that vision with children or share and impart that same vision to every disciple in the faith community? And if so, how do we do that? Was Jesus calling children's ministers or using children as examples to the church. If so, what does that mean for "children's ministry"?

Do we as a faith community apprehend all the things Jesus said about children through children's programs that churches and parents and kids rave about, programs for parents and families to learn how to love, care for, and instruct one another, multi-generational services a couple of times a year? Summer camps and conferences? (Respectfully, many of these are wonderful ministries!)

Are we closer to apprehending the things that Jesus was saying to His disciples, by looking for ways to include children in our community in as many ways as possible?

Is it about clearing the debris out of the road, enabling children to come to Jesus or seeing and hearing the things that Jesus wants us to see and understand through the children around us? Probably both are true and there's probably more. I wonder . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Rites of Passage

Chapter 4 of Children's Spirituality was written by Klaus Issler. He has his PhD. He's a professor of Christian Ed and Theology. He's written Wasting Time with God: A Christian Spirituality of Friendship with God, Teaching for Reconciliation: Foundations and Practice of Christian Education Ministry, How We Learn: A Christian Teacher's Guide to Educational Psychology.
He discusses Biblical support for childhood being a time of "developmental grace". He also touches on the "age of discernment," the "age of accountability".

Of interest to us: His comments about Nehemiah 4:2 and 8:2 imply that the children present had reached a "stage of understanding". A different picture than I originally had . Something to look into.

Other questions: In traditional churches the rites of passage for children include such things as:
- infant baptism or dedication
- promotion to the next class in Sunday school
-presentation of Bibles when children can read
-sometimes YA/teen baptism or a public affirmation of faith
-sometimes a form of bat/bar mitvah
-more grown-up opportunities to serve
-taking communion

Understanding that there are different opinions about faith journeys and moments of decision, are there childhood "rites of passage?" In contemporary, less liturgical, less traditional faith community are these important? In a mobile multi-cultural American culture that keeps changing its family/community focus are these important?

There are milestones for children in our culture: 1st babysitter, sleeping through the night, birthdays, no car seat, potty training, 1st day of pre-school, 1st day of elementary school, middle school, high school; reading, passing to the next grade level, 16th birthday, drivers' permit, drivers' liscence, 18th birthday, first job, graduations, leaving home, 21st birthday, 1st apartment, etc...

Are there milestones of faith for children (or adults for that matter)? Is it important to celebrate them? Why? Are they personal (a faith journal/scrapbook)? worthy of a family celebration? a community celebration?

Are there times when we need specific community instruction with others in order to grow into that new place?

Christmas, Disappointments, and Technical Detail

All five kids were home for Christmas. We had a good time. Decided not to travel.

Cleaning up after breakfast on Christmas morning, Jenny (My youngest- 16 ys. ) was hanging around. She was pretty happy. Somehow we got talking about friends in different situations. We got talking about scripture and how I think that, for Mary, the first Christmas was probably full of disappointments if you imagine yourself in her shoes. Maybe it's a mom thing, and I confess I was reading between the lines.

Run your imagination with me...Pregnant out of wedlock. Ready to deliver your first baby any day and your husband tells you that you both have to march off to Bethlehem on foot and on a donkey's back, a four day journey, to stand in a government waiting line. You get there, all the rooms are taken, you've no place to stay. So you stay in a smelly barn with a bunch of farm animals and creepy crawly night things and night noises. Where did they get water for clean up? You think you're carrying a special baby from God and this is what you get?

Then smelly scruffy strangers come by to peer at your baby telling you stories about light and angels. Hospitality is big in the Middle East but they might even be bringing their dogs and their sheep. What does she have to feed them?

Then these rich dudes from another country come with expensive gifts but Mary and Joseph are poor. What are they going to do with these? How do they get them safely home? Do they sell them, save them, hide them? What if someone thinks they stole them?

Then the dream. Instead of going home to job and family with their new son they have to run away and hide in another country where they probably have no job or family. Then to have news of the infanticide in Bethlehem? To think it was all their fault?

Disappointments. Mary probably had a better attitude than I would have... I said to Jenny, sometimes it's interesting to notice the things that aren't there when you read scripture.

But she said, why do churches white wash things for kids? (referring to other churches.) We talked alittle about the medical side of the crucifixion adding a different perspective and about the movie "The Passion" and a book by Phillip Keller about a shepherd looking at the 23rd Psalm and how he understands different things than people who aren't shepherds. My dad was a dairy farmer. He used to say that sheep are among the most stupid animals on the earth. :)

We talked about how people see things differently and that maybe there are reasons why God leaves out the details that He leaves out. Maybe He was intentionally giving us room to wonder and imagine so we could see more. It was neat. She doesn't think she has much of a visual imagination. But she really wanted to see more. She wanted more technical information.

She was funny. She said, "Let the little kids stay in worship but there should be a class like this for teens during worship, she said. Then we could go back to worship and understand more." LOL! You thought I was radical!

I guess it's common knowledge that teens want the truth. They want to hear the "technical detail". But it was interesting. Jenny's not one of my insatiable readers (fiction or NF). She's more the artist/inventor. I don't think of her being someone who's into "technical detail." But apparently, she is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


"Have I told you lately that I love you?" (And your kids!)

Merry Christmas! Joy and peace and blessings to you!

Just like Jesus, they don't stay little very long.

A new blog to check out!

Check out David Wakerley's blog (see his comment on the last post and click on his name). If you only peek at his December '05 posts, he's into Jazz and worship, Scott! There's a long article about jazz and the church. Looks like there are also ways they're "engaging culture".

(and he isn't as long-winded as I am. :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"caught not taught"

Went into Amazon today to finish Christmas shopping (long-distance which means they most certainly won't get there by Christmas!) and there before my eyes were about four books about including children in worship. One book is specifically for children. One is a planning guide for congregations. One is Parenting in the Pew, the one I read. One is a resource for "pastors, educators, parents, sessions and committees." Thought there was only one and that I'd read it. Sigh...

The table of contents for one of the books ("inside the book" - "table of contents" - an Amazon perk) contained a bold reminder for me..."Worship is caught, not taught." I think that for the first 50 years of my life I totally agreed with that. I still agree very very very much but I'm wondering if it's one of those tent cords pulling in one direction that needs the instructing cord pulling in the other to keep the tent up. Something to think about. :-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tent Strings

I think the way I’m going to handle these particular comments is to pick one point from each speaker (from the book) that seems particularly relevant to what we’re doing. I get to share, and hopefully won’t ramble. All of these speakers have interesting things to say. It will also keep me from quoting more words than I’m legally allowed to. I’m not sure what the limit is.

Marcia Bunge, a contributor to Children’s Spirituality is editor of The Child in Christian Thought(Eerdmans, 2001) among other credits. After opening with ways that the church and our culture lack commitment to children, she targets 5 seemingly conflicting positions regarding children as revealed in the scriptures and in Christian tradition. She says, "Although theologians within the Christian tradition have often expressed narrow and even destructive depictions of children and childhood, there are 6 central ways of speaking about the nature of children within Christian tradition that when critically retrieved and held in tension- can broaden the conception of children and strengthen our commitment to them. Her point, I believe, is that as we understand children, all of these are important considerations.

The 5 elements:

1) Children are a gift from God- a joy and a blessing, to their families and their community.

2) We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We're born into an imperfect world. From childhood, we're prone to act in self-centered and selfish ways.

3) Children are still growing and developing. They need to be trained. Biblically, parents are a primary agent for this, but families are part of communities. Children were present in community gatherings for the reading of the Word.

4) Children are fully human, made in the image of God and deserve respect.

5) Jesus held them up as examples. To welcome a child is to welcome Christ Jesus. There are things that God wants to show us through children.

6) Orphans, the fatherless, the poor deserve justice and compassion.

We all wrestle with seemingly contradictory statements in scripture but after having read what she had to say, the picture I left with was a tent. We need the center standards to keep it upright. We need ropes pulling in at least four opposing directions to keep it stable. If all the peg ropes pull in the same direction the tent will lean and fall over. As people working with children, we need to identify the ropes and have all of them pulling equally taut to keep the tent from falling over. If you've set up a tent before, you 're welcome to ponder the details and draw your own analogies!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

"Let the Children Come . . ."

* * *
Berryman talks about Jesus blessing the children- saying that blessing them enables them to bless in return. He says that those of similar standing can bless one another but "the powerful...have difficulty blessing, because their power always implies control." (Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality."Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p. 37 ) That's alot to think about.

* * *

"Usually church development does not take children into consideration unless it is to use them to draw in their parents or to be politically correct. Children are assumed not to be able to make any kind of contribution on their own except perhaps, in a deferred way as 'the church of the future.' . . . If the goal of church development is to provide a way to help people enter the domain of God, then children are at the very center of what it takes for the church's mission to be accomplished. Building a child-like church, however, sounds weak and powerless, but that is just the point." (Berryman p. 38)


*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Non-Verbal and Silence

Silence and non-verbal communication are both loaded with meaning. Berryman says that as adults we know this but we depend more on language than on the non-verbal. Problems arise, especially for children, when our verbal and non-verbal communications say different things. (Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality." Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p 29)

I have two almost 6 month old puppies. They're experts at reading body language. While I'm trying to teach them word commands they're reading my body language and probably getting pretty confused.

For all the months before children develop language we're communicating with them and they're communicating with us non-verbally. Even our silences communicate something.

When I think of God, Christ, Living Word, I don't think of God's silent or non-verbal communication. I don't think of "Be still and know that I am God," or of Elijah's experience with the still small breeze as anything but verbal but if you were there, I bet it would be quiet.

Berryman says that God is often silently present, in a non-verbal, non-linguistic way. (Berryman p. 28) That's one way that many people hope to encounter God in worship - feeling, inner peace. When I quiet myself, I do it so I can "hear" better, I never think about a non-linguistic, non-verbal response from God, though it happens. Listening to God's silence...a new frontier!

God communicates both non-verbally and verbally. Bringing children to worship at any age, we're communicating as much non-verbally as verbally. Berryman says, sometimes He's hiding, like a game of Hide-and-Seek. He's silent but present. The fun is to find Him. (Berryman p. 25-29.)

*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


I'll be reading Children's Spirituality for a LONG time and probably just sharing random thoughts that jump out at me. I'm revising these last two posts. They're weren't helpful, so let's try this:

"Children are better than adults at tracking relationships without language, because they are not yet as dependent on language as adults. This relational consciousness is a profound part of their spirituality." Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality." Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p 29

God is relational. Children are relational. Before they ever learn language, they're still learning about their world and tracking relationships without yet having mastered the words to linguistically define their experiences.

One of the reasons to bring babies to worship is the association between their bond with their parents and a bond with a heavenly Father. Is a baby cognitively thinking like this? Probably not. It's experiential. It's affective. It's sensory. It's still a very real experience that will shape them. And they are learning things, non-verbally. Yes, the "positive" of this assumes a strong postive bond, between parent and child.

Parents and children at odds before they ever get to worship can go one of three ways, things get better, they stay the same, or they get worse. Another discussion.

If you have a screaming baby, obviously no one will be able to worship. Warm, fed, healthy babies who aren't fighting with colic usually do fine. Other people holding that baby during worship. Different, but still a positive experience. It gives mom or dad a break and it grows something positive between the baby and other members of his/her faith community. You work around those moments (or months) of separation anxiety.

Toddlers are more challenging. Walking, talking babes-in-motion! But they're tracking the same relationship non-verbally and are perhaps more aware of separation. They will also make the association that going to worship with someone who cares about them is a good thing. If a parent gets too stressed, having friends or older kids distract them or follow them around when it's appropriate helps alot. Yes, babies and toddlers left in the nursery usually settle down and yes, they learn that the parent returns. Yes, it gives the parent a break and lets them focus on worship. Is one better than the other? Relationally, they send different non-verbal messages.
From watching Ukrainian extended families in worship, I'd assume that in the OT babies and toddlers were familiar with many family members of different ages and got passed around alot during worship.

Somewhere I also read something implying that babies non-verbally encounter God, but of course they can't tell you about it and they probably won't remember.

*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Language and Experience

Another revision:

Experience gives meaning to language, especially faith language. Berryman's point is that words giving meaning to other words without appropriate (even non-verbal) experience is not enough. Jerome W. Berryman* "Children and Mature Spirituality." Children's Spirituality. Cascade Books, Eugene OR: 2004, p. 31

Carolyn Brown makes the same point in her book- that we often talk to children about spiritual things based on our experiences not theirs. Sometimes we say concrete vs abstract, concrete implying that the child has had real life experience or it's something they can touch and relate to as opposed to abstract which requires more complicated association or transfer or application. This applies to parents, Christian educators and pastors.

We are teaching children language in the wider cultural sense. We are also teaching them faith language in a faith culture.

Parents bringing very young children to worship can use that opportunity to teach them words to go with sights and sounds and smells and the things they touch and taste: people names, candle, chair or pew, Bible, star, light, the smell and smoke of incense, sing, guitar, organ, clap, dance, "shh," money, offering, walk, run, tip toe, worship folder (LOL!), bells, (depending on your worship experience) . "Listen. . ." "Did you hear..." "Do you see . . . ?" If you have stained glass windows look at them with your child and say the words for the things you see.

Not that you do all this for a full hour or hour and a half of worship. But you can do it before service, after service, or at opportune moments. But being aware that there are words and experiences tied to those words that we can momentarily focus on during worship is an important thing for us to recognize. Do we want them to learn Christianese? Probably not, but ponder language and faith at whatever age you child is.

*Jerome Berryman is the Executive Director of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He has also written Godly Play & Teaching Godly Play.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Forgotten Book

Before I blog more about Children's Spirituality I'm going to backtrack. I have a book on my shelf called You Can Preach to the Kids, Too by Carolyn Brown Abingdon Press: Nashville 1997 ISBN 0-687-06157-1. I forgot to put this on the list. This was one of the first books I read. It's written for pastors. I read it and marveled at her insights but put it away because I'm not a pastor. But I think her insights are for teachers and parents, too.

She says, "Dr. Cavaletti insists that children have a God-given hunger for mystery and holy silence. She claims ... children respond to the opportunity to listen and to think quietly." (p. 18) People I've talked to about this who work with young children, what I've read, and my own experience say that sharing the stories of scripture is multi-generational. The experience of sharing the stories of scripture with children, and giving their imagination room to wonder affect the adult story-teller as much as the child (and adult) who listens.

She's not talking about as much about the story as the sermon here but she is talking about children in worship:

She asks, ". . . why preach to the children?"
1) "...they need to experience hearing and thinking about God's Word as part of the congregation of God's people."
2) "...they need to hear God's Word from the leader of their [faith community] . . ."
3) "...they need to hear that their lives and ... problems are part of the life and concerns of the whole congregation of God's people."
4) ". . .God loves them and needs them to do the work of the Kingdom NOW. [as opposed to waiting until you grow up.] It is one thing to study the Word in Sunday School. It is another to be called, through preaching, to live out that Word as one of God's people." (page 19)

Elementary school-aged children are already turned outward. They want to participate. They want to understand. As teenagers they'll focus on themselves again, and on the world of peers. There are two different windows of opportunity here. (page 19)

She goes on to look at the pros and cons of the "children's sermon." With great insight she tells why the problems outweigh the benefits but continues "If you must..." She talks about vocabulary, experiences required to understand a concept, things that offend children but not adults, child-specific experiences (adult memories), how children hear, how children follow, using kid-friendly illustrations that are "concrete" as opposed to leaping into the abstract, using props, including seatwork or sermon art to keep kids focused, helping parents learn how to keep children focused. Less than 200 pages. Very reader friendly.

Why story?

Why did I blog about story? Why is the story important to worship? Maybe it's not that the story is important to worship but rather that hearing God's stories make us want to worship Him. Worshipping God opens us up to His stories.

We love a good story and the stories we love shape us. They pull us into other times and places and virtual relationships where we can safely try out this or that. That's what children do when they play. They process life as they play out the stories they hear and replay their own lives.

The stories of scripture are God's Word for children. They tell us about God and they tell us about ourselves. When we worship and focus on God it brings usright where God needs us to be, if we're going to listen and hear. God Himself in Christ is the God-spoken Word alive. He's not just a story. The Holy Spirit reminds us and makes His stories alive.

Yust talks about stories and creating a spiritual world for children. I think part of what she's saying is that this is a place where or a way that children can process seen and unseen realities. Stories help us to process and make unseen realities real. There are stories everywhere - all kinds of wonderful stories but I think her point is, which stories will shape our lives and the lives of our children?

George A. F. Knight wrote Theology in Pictures. It's actually a 125 page commentary on Genesis. Before I read this, one of the things that my husband George and I always differed on was whether the Creation story was literal. I said, "Yes, of course it is. God is God! He can do anything." George, however, Science/Math/Computer person that he is with a brilliant creative imagination, disagreed with me. "I don't believe it's literal," he said, "but I believe it's true." He said this because his understanding of God made it impossible for him to limit the God of the universe to only the material, literal world.

Stories have layers. Little children are more literal than their grown-ups but the amazing thing about God's stories is that if you're watching for Him and listening for Him, everytime you hear God's stories, there's potential to see something new that you didn't see before.

When you're with children see what stories they escape to and how they process life. If we're going to bring children to worship how do we bring the story into worship in such a way that it leaves children and adults wanting to participate in God's story?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Faithful and Fruitful

The picture of faith and dance is an artistic observation.

The observations about story are observations that we can use to make ourselves better story tellers - "story" implying in this case God's stories.

One of the things that Yust talked about in Real Kids, Real Faith was the goal of being faithful.

When Jesus approached the fig tree He was looking for fruit.

Some observe and take notes. Some take other approaches to learning how to live faith - a relationship perhaps. But I think in both cases someone is asking, What do faithfulness and fruitfulness "look" like? (Or substitute some other sense word for "look".) Can it help me or kids become more faithful and more fruitful? There it is! Let's do that!

As we encounter the Triune God, and others, what is He hoping to find?

quote about story

From Children's Spirituality p. 13-15

a well-told story must be told by someone who loves the story ("it must be vitally important to storytellers and they must be wrapped up in the story") and loves his/her listeners.
"These two components reflect the two great commandments-loving God (the story) and others (the children)." [W. Wangerin(2003) and Bruner( 1986)] Children's Spirituality p. 13.

a well-told story is a world where the listening child can live

a well-told story shapes those who hear it

a well-told story gives structure to random life experiences

a well-told story must grant the child personhood

A well-told story is always an act of community. Child and storyteller are companions. Together, they share the joys and guilt of the story. The differences between generations are irrelevant because the phrases of the story are repeated generation to generation.

A well-told story will leave the listener wanting to hear it over and over not to get to the end but to re-experience the story.

quote - dance

"Who can say in a child when the dance with God begins?...[T]he beginning, specifically, cannot be remembered because in the beginning there are no words for it. The language to name, contain, and to explain the experience comes afterward. The dance, then, the relationship with God, faithing, begins in a mist..." (W. Wangerin (1986) The orphean passages) Children's Spirituality p. 12.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


There are definately treasures to be had in this collection of research, experience, and observation, but as I sit here listening to my printer churn out a 37 page annotated-with-table-of-contents- bibliography I can't help but wonder how it is that our culture has to generate that much research in order to discover how to love kids and how to help them put their faith in God. Part of me understands but part of me doesn't. We wonder why parents have no confidence- why they feel the need for experts in order to have confidence that they're "doing it right".

"in many tribal cultures people live the story without analyzing it." Children's Spirituality p. 14

End of updated list

Here is a mother lode of research based books on children's spirituality .
A couple of them look interesting and readable...

The book I'm reading now is from the 2003 conference here

Here are some ideas for kids that go with the lectionary and these
(also from the lectionary) from Father Max Bower.