Postmodern Children’s Ministry

Over the years of teaching and training in the church, I have suggested on more than one occasion that the church is not the primary source for the spiritual formation of children. This primary responsibility belongs to the family. Traditionally, families have not been trained with this notion in mind. Training is always going on with kids and they are being spiritually formed even if we are not actively thinking or reflecting about it.

I just found this resource that I thought might interest you. It’s written by Ivy Beckwith, who is apart of the Emergent Village conversation. She has written Postmodern Children’s Ministry: Ministry to Children in the 21st Century Church in which she speaks about the spiritual formation of children and their place as full participants in the community of faith.

Here is a brief part of her introduction:

The church’s ministry to children is broken. A cursory look doesn’t reveal its brokenness. From the outside children’s ministry looks healthier then ever. But it is broken. It’s broken when church leaders and senior pastors see children’s ministry as primarily a marketing tool. The church with the most outwardly attractive program wins the children and then the parents. It’s broken when we teach children the Bible as if it were just another book of moral fables or stories of great heroes. Something’s broken when we trivialize God to our children. It’s broken when we exclude children from, perhaps, the most important of community activities – worship. It’s broken because we’ve become dependent on an 18th century schooling model forgetting that much of a child’s spiritual formation is affective, active, and intuitive. It’s broken when we depend on our programs and our curriculum to introduce our children to God – not our families and communities. It’s broken when we’ve come to believe that church has to be something other than church to be attractive to children. It’s broken when we spend lots of money making our churches into play lands and entice children to God through food fights and baptisms in the back of fire trucks. And perhaps most importantly it’s broken when the church tells parents that its programs can spiritually nurture their children better than they can. By doing this we’ve lied to parents and allowed them to abdicate their responsibility to spiritually form their children. A church program can’t spiritually form a child, but a family living in an intergenerational community of faith can. Our care for our children is broken and badly in need of repair. Let’s imagine together a new way, a new future.

I trust you will pick it up and give it a read.

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