Report #3. Practices for Forming Faith with Children
If we accept the broadly affirmed theological premise that God is present in every human person, regardless of age and development, then we owe it to children to help them discover and respond to that gracious presence in their lives. Even if children cannot grasp the full meaning and implications of the Christian journey, we have a solemn responsibility for developing their innate spirituality and nurturing them, over time, into the Christian way of life.
It’s clear from the research and literature on children’s faith formation that this responsibility remains largely unrealized. In many communities, children only find welcome in the church if they do not act like children. All churches say they welcome children, but how many really do?
How many churches genuinely and systematically seek answers to such questions as: What is the spiritual condition of the children when they are born? In what ways should Christians include young children within the fellowship and community of the church? How might believers effectively raise children toward a vital love and faith in God? What responsibilities should the church in general, along with parents or caregivers, take in the spiritual instruction and nurture of children? How can Christians work together for our children’s good?
With these queries in mind we seek to respond to these four questions:
- What about faith transmission is relevant to children and children’s faith formation?
- What does the body of literature indicate as the most important contributors to effective faith formation with children?
- What does the body of literature show are the activities, tasks, and behaviors that bolster faith formation with children?
- What are the implications for faith formation leaders, and the church community as a whole?
Drawing upon the writings and research of more than a dozen experts in children’s spirituality and faith formation, we offer a concise, cogent, and hopefully helpful response to each of these four questions. Our goal is to empower you to develop new and innovative approaches and strategies for children’s faith formation that truly leads to a committed, engage faith life. From that work, we are confident, will emerge best practices for the future of faith formation in churches.
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