Children's Sunday school lessons - Kids Spiritually Tools
Spiritual tools are diverse, and sometimes we need to embrace the full range of them to see what would most benefit the children in our care.
The last lesson I posted was that of Anna, a woman seen to have been both one full of wisdom, and revered as a prophet. The craft chosen was finger labyrinths, something I don't ever remember being used in my childhood experiences of church, so why did I chose such a spiritual tool over a concrete craft?
We are constantly being told that our world is changing, we can bury our head in the sand about it, we can mould our youngsters into a form of the world that we understand, or we can open ourselves to a new way of God breathing into the chaos of this world. This great shift in thinking is uncomfortable, but to fully prepare the children that we have in our care we need to equip them for the world they face the rest of the week.
The world is starting to reject the concrete answers it's been given, the idea that everything can be explained is falling from favour and the loose ends are starting to be embraced. Spirituality can be such a lose end, it's not really easy to explain, but it's both a powerful and necessary part of faith. Spiritual objects and practices have for many years scared some parts of the church. Christian icons, meditation, labyrinths, rosaries (or prayer beads), incense, and other tangible objects have all been shuffled under the carpet and a ministry consisting of written and spoken word has flourished.
Now the tide is shifting, and these ancient ways of bringing ourselves before God may be looked at afresh. To be honest, a stream of people talking is not very engaging for the children, the objects that may distract us from God may actually be the ones that lead them to him.
"The first labyrinth I made for my daughter was simply drawn on paper with crayon. Her chatter ceased and her breath deepened as she used her finger to trace the path, occasionally looking to me for guidance. After that first experience, she began to ask for a labyrinth on a regular basis." Source
For example, I found this quote when looking for a fabric labyrinth tutorial: ->
To be clear, I'm not advocating either changing your theology, nor bringing elements into your kids ministry that would compromise your churches teachings. Far from it, for I believe firmly that the 'big' church should be teaching the same as the 'kids' church. But in crude terms, the adults don't benefit from the action songs that much either.
I am, rather, pushinging open the door to tools that you may have shied away from in the past. Meditation is a biblical concept (eg Psalm 48:9), incense is an element of lots of the stories we tell our children (Mary & Jesus' feet, Samuel and David), prayer beads are simply another form of the prayer bulletin.
By opening up the spiritual, the undefinable, the vastness of God to these children we are actually equipping them for the world. By not limiting God to the answers we can grapple with we are more fully representing him and his wonderfully diverse church. By giving the children space and time and safety to discover God for themselves we are growing a relationship with him not in their heads but in their hearts.
"The question of faith is valued in schools, media, and hundreds of other places in kids' culture. For a long time, our culture has been hostile to spirituality, God, and faith -- but things are changing. Fortunately, people are increasingly open to discussing their faith; unfortunately, however, many people are open to discussing any faith except Christianity because Christianity represents to them what's narrow-minded and rigid." Source
It saddens me to read quotes like the one to the right. That in a world that is opening itself to the discovery of the divine, in a culture that is starting to seek, we may not be equipping our children with signposts to point to God, but with placards that bock the way.