Monday, May 04, 2009


Had an interesting search come through - "preschooler who doesn't believe God is real."

When I write and think about kids I assume preschoolers have a huge capacity for imagining and grasping what they can't necessarily see. (Ironically, at the same time they need lots of concrete sensory learning experiences.) I assume that children under the age of 8 or so are still capable (and willing) to grasp the invisible. It's an assumption. This assumption is based on my reading about child development, personal experience and personal observation but it's still an assumption. I don't think of 3-4 year olds as skeptics standing with their arms crossed saying, "Prove it to me!" Imagine a whole classroom of 4 year-olds staring at you saying, "I don't believe you. Prove it!"

I'm guessing (hoping) that you have different material to work with in a preschooler than you would facing an adult in the same situation.

But if you convince him, how do you send him back into a family who taught him to think that way? What kind of conflicts do you create? What kind of church to child, family to child, and church to family relationship do you grow? That would take lots of prayer and a lot of God's wisdom.

But play with me a little. How many things are real that you can't see? Wind. Cold. Hot. Fear. Humidity. Atoms. Oxygen. We see the effects, how they behave, what they do. We feel the effects. Sometimes we hear or smell or taste the effects. But otherwise we'd call them invisible.

What is invisble? The things you can still experience if you close your eyes? What if you close your ears so you can't hear, close your nose so you can't smell, close your mouth so you can't taste, and put your hands in your pockets or cover yourself with a blanket so you can't touch? What would you still experience in the world around you? What would your world be like? What would be real? How about the world inside you? Is the world inside you invisible?

I was going to go to the wind analogy we like to use for an invisible God and seeing the effects of what we can't see. Jesus uses it in John 3:8. The interesting thing is that He wasn't actually talking about God and His Holy Spirit. Jesus was talking about "everyone who is born of the spirit." (Finding something unexpected when I'm looking for something else...but think about that picture of a believer!)

We can ponder at length how family and experience affect what a child believes. But I'd be interested to know if people working with young children are seeing more skepticism, more cynicism at a younger age. Would you coach a preschooler from unbelief to belief differently from someone older? And what about his choosing to believe in the context of his family? What do you think?

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