I have only recently “found” The Way of the Child children’s ministry resources – visit this site for more details. While I have had no personal experience in using the materials, an initial look has greatly whetted my interest. The following six “core beliefs” about children and their spirituality underpin and inform this approach to spiritual formation.
- Children have an innate connection to God. All children come from God, and God’s Spirit is breathed into them at birth. As human beings, they are created in the image of God to be in relationship with God. As they live, learn, love, and experience, they seek meaning in their lives and in the wider world; they seek to develop fully into the beings God created them to be. This resource affirms that God is the source of our being, our meaning, and our loving.
- Children have a natural openness to mystery. Because their imaginations are rich and fertile, they do not have to know all the answers. They are comfortable living in the “in-between.” Our culture puts an inordinate emphasis on reasoning and knowing “the Truth”; having the right answers is powerful and is rewarded. Yet right answers often lead to our own control and not to faith in God. This resource encourages the space and place for not knowing, for living into mystery, which is the foundation for reliance on God and faith.
- Children have an amazing capacity for awe. This capacity for awe is connected to their openness to mystery, their zest for reaching their potential, and their rich imaginations. Awe leads to a life of prayer. Awe inclines us to be present in and to the mystery of God.
- Children are receivers. They have no difficulty expressing their needs and accepting their dependency. They can easily surrender their self-sufficiencies and allow themselves to be served. Prayer is opening ourselves to receive God’s nourishment of restoring, healing, loving, and changing us. Receptivity is vital to prayer, and children are natural receivers.
- Children love what is real. Spiritual practices are real, authentic, and lifelong because God is real and our lives are real. Children know this.
- Children are wonderfully humble. What you see in them is what you get! They haven’t yet put on the masks of cultural niceties and rationalizations. Our society encourages mask-wearing, with expectations to conform and with concerns for being good, often fueled by our desires for success. Some of this is necessary. Yet children need to know and accept themselves, to know that God loves them just as they are. Humility is nurtured through this self-acceptance, understanding, and affirmation.