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And a little child shall lead them?

A nice, out of context, quotation as a header to some brief thoughts arising from listening to Good Morning Sunday on Radio 2 at the start of the BBC's 'World of Faith Week' for 2009.

Is faith 'taught or caught' or is it a bit of both?  One of the perennial questions, a bit like the nature/nurture stuff where you can never properly establish the controlled conditions you might need to answer the question.  Allied to this, and in the light of the 'reflection' that comes at just before 8a.m., do children meet God through the teaching/example of parents or do parents glimpse God in the lives of their children?

I am really enjoying being in a church where there are children after almost six years without any.  One of the things I am pondering is what exactly I/we are about in the 'children's talk' section of the service.  For me, building on what I did when there were no children present, some aspects are quite clear: it is an 'introduction' to the theme that will be explored later on in the sermon, and this has quite significant implications for who leads it and how.  Either it needs to be led by the preacher, assuming he/she is comfortable/competent so to do, or it needs a lot of advance planning to ensure that, if responsiblity is shared, it does indeed all hang together: a good challenge.  It also needs to be seen as relevant to all people present, and that isn't so easy.  I want it to be something that children can enjoy - even hopefully be a teeny bit excited about - but it is not mere entertainment value.  I also want it to stir into action the grey matter of the adults who may either be a teeny bit bleary eyed or pre-occupied by other things they need to do.  What I love about working this part of the service very interactively is that, once relationships and rapport are built, there is the potential for little children to share incredible insights that point to God or challenge my own presuppositions.

I have some ideas about how I want to develop this aspect of worship in due course, and am glimpsing hints already of the potential that exists.  Way back when, someone allowed me to read the Bible in public worship, someone gave me permission to do and be in embryo what I now am.  Nature/nurture? Caught/taught?  I don't know.  But somewhere in it all God was, and still is, active.


  • When we had 2 children in our church, I was tremendously inspired by the ethos of Gretchen Wolff Pritchard expressed in 'Offering the Gospel to Children', though I clearly lacked the skills to do it her way. Now that we have 11 or so highly mobile children attending at one time or another, I sometimes feel I'm doing all this imaginative and educational stuff more for the sake of the adults than the youngsters! So I'm hoping osmosis works!

    I obviously need to find some skilled people to give the wee job of thinking about children in worship.

  • Hiya,

    May I suggest a really helpful theology book on this topic?
    Joining Children on the Spiritual Journey by Catherine Stonehouse.


  • Thanks Lynn, that's very helpful

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