Many years ago, some thoughtful individuals in our community spent a long time, much energy, and some very focused prayer time while considering what route the children’s ministry at Trinity should take. One of the books that was instrumental in their research was Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation, edited by Michael Anthony. This book is a wonderful summary of the myriad perspectives from which churches approach ministry to children. It goes without saying that each church desires to guide children in their burgeoning relationship with God; to teach them the joys of worship, the sanctity of scripture, and the glory that can be found in walking alongside our Lord Jesus Christ. How a church body approaches this guidance can vary from church to church, even within complementary communities and denominations. Drawing from the wisdom found in Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation, here are a few points to consider from a couple of different “styles” or “models.” Please bear in mind that these are just snipets from a larger, very detailed, and involved text. This month, two will be summarized, while next month, the Pragmatic/ Participatory and Media-Driven/ Active- Engagement models will be explored.
Contemplative/ Reflective Model
“The aim in [this] model of children’s ministry is this: to help children encounter God in ways that result in a sense of awe and wonder, to help them consider things of God with continued attention… The model intentionally guides the child to linger in the story, to gaze upon the good shepherd, to wonder about him.” ~Scottie May
Instructional/ Analytical Model
“This model views that learning the Bible will create an educational situation where reflection, practice, and obedience occur. Our statement purposes that the foundation is the Bible; and reflection, experience, and activity result- not vice versa…. [Children must] Read the Scripture… Study the Scripture…Memorize the Scripture.” ~Gregory Carlson