Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Revisting Children's Spirituality (The Brain -2)

If you look back to April 11th you'll see I started reading this chapter about a month ago. (It's only 14 pages. I get distracted.)

Food-for-thought from the 2nd half:

Scottie May and Donald Ratcliff (authors of this chapter) suggest that "brain research, as well as reflection upon the ways God expresses himself...suggest the need for a more holistic approach in which emotions and experience should be the result of educational and corporate worship, not mere words. (p 161) Children learn to speak being around speakers before they go to school and sit in a Language Arts class. Abraham Heschel is cited as saying, "We teach children how to measure, how to weigh. We do not teach them how to revere, how to sense wonder and awe."(p. 161)

What is essential? S. Cavalletti (Religious potential of the child 1992) tells us to "Watch the child's attitudes and actions to learn what is essential; then adjust accordingly...Encourage wonder, amazement, freedom, and appropriate independence. Create experiences so the child can relate to God; provide and promote a sense of belonging." (p. 161)

"By the very nature of congregational life, the faith comunity may be the best place for children to hear spiritual and biblical narratives...Children need settings where narratives are shared, as well as settings for personal reflection." (p. 162)

[given the research] "...it seems crucial to take seriously the possibility that children's experiences or encounters with God can be facilitated by preparing environments that allow connatural knowing [the way the youngest children learn to speak and understand language] and relational consciousness to emerge." The child's spirituality should influence the form children's ministry takes, not "cultural trend or cognitive theory." (p. 162)

Scottie May (2003) developed a chart of "core commonalities" for the spiritual formation of children. All lead from one to the other through the work of the Holy Spirit.
-Encounters with God is in the center.
-The five squares around this square all lead to Encountering God and from one to another:
Involvement in service and mission
Owning an identity as part of the people of God
Knowing and being formed in the character of God's people
Knowing His character and actions
Responding with a sense of awe and wonder

From my own perspective the traditional term "Children's Ministry" [ministering to children] can only survive if it's saturated with a focus on the spiritual formation of children that reaches much deeper, wider, higher and broader than the traditional notion of "being saved". Maybe it's as simple as seeing kids as significant and loved little people not just statistics. Though fairly academic and research based somehow Children's Spirituality: Christian Perspectives, Research, and Applications still communicates that. I'm almost halfway through it and, yes, I'm still reading . . . :)

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