A Child’s Journey to Faith
I just got back from a week in Florida (thanks to my wife’s work that paid for the trip). We spent two days at Disney and the last ride we went on was Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. As it took us through major breakthroughs of inventiveness in history we saw a scene of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. Meredith’s first and only comment was: where is the nursery?
It was funny but also made me think some on the church and worship and faith formation. Meredith is a young 4 year old. Some studies say she is quickly reaching the age where her primarily concept of God will be “locked in” for the rest of her life. And yet at this time she has spent far more time in a church nursery than its worship space. (Honestly she mostly thinks church is about a room full of toys and a room with cookies and juice.) This makes me engage two related trajectories of thought:
1) Given that for most church going children Meredith’s experience of church is not unusual, how does our nursery care fit into faith formation? Is it no more than child care, or does it have some intentional focus to ground our children in knowing God’s love? Has the church been guilty of not thinking about children as disciples until they reach a certain age? What exciting and life-giving ways might we (are we) actually engaging that responsibility?
2) It reminds me yet again how important parents are in their child’s faith formation. Throughout child and youth development stages a parent is her or his child’s primary educator, nurturer, preacher, disciple-maker, and companion on the journey. How does the church help equip and support our parents in faith formation and nurturing ways to pass on that faith? How do our parents actually engage that task? Because they(we) are forming their (our) children’s faith even if only by lack of attention or unintentional messaging in their language, choices, and way of life. (This doesn’t have to be all bad – you may naturally and without thought model the way of Christ in your child rearing, however speaking for myself I find it a particular challenging place to live God’s love at times.) It is for this reason that we as communities of faith need to support each other in our journeys: equipping, affirming, and holding one another accountable
What do you think? How are we doing in engaging children in forming their faith and relationship to God? What are some exciting ideas to expand our engagement?