Friday, March 28, 2008

This week.........

This week has allowed me to catch up a little on paperwork but also to spend time with an individual facing a personal crisis needing a lot of support, including my physical presence alongside her at some interviews with statutory agencies. I've been disappointed with the attitudes expressed by one or two individual employees (of nameless agencies!!) who most certainly need to learn how to talk to other human beings with understanding and compassion, and to drop the patronising tone.

I met with my co-ordinators team last night and hand-on-heart, this was a meeting I was looking forward to. I love being with them. These guys support me so much not only in the smooth running of all Sunday morning operations for all the kids, but with vision and direction - we really do come together to seek God; the practical side of our discussions took just over an hour and the rest of the evening we could pray for one another and for the children and families.

An incredible sense of PRIVILEGE swept over us again as we prayed - how we felt it! We honestly felt the Holy Spirit bring this right into our hearts! What an honour it is to work with children. ...we get to input into children, most of whom are devoid of cynicism and "that'll never work here" attitudes; most of our kids soak up EVERY good thing taught to them about God's character and attributes and want more experiences of God; they are hungry for him; they listen open-mouthed to testimony and story and then want to have it for themselves; currently our older kids are challenging many of their parents with their desire for reality and experience to go with stories and tradition.

George Barna (my current favourite author) points out that only a minority of teens are expected to remain involved in Christian churches after they reach the age of independence. He says, "Teens do not go to youth groups for music and games, and they will not attend 'adult church' for music and preaching. They demand transcendent adventures and supportive relationships. They need an outlet for their desire to have a positive affect on the world and to synchronize their inner drive to be needed with the needs of those in the world that have little." from Real Teens (2001)

He goes on to say that teens are "seeking a compelling experience".

This leads me to ask something perhaps more bluntly on this post than at any time before on my blog - are we - or let me personalise it - am I allowing children and young people to seek compelling experiences, free of my own parameters and limits, free from my cultural expectations and - dare I say it - prejudices? What does it mean when Jesus said "unless you change and become like little children....." ...could this possibly be one of the most provocative statements to challenge our way of doing church today (assuming we allow it to provoke us?)

Little children experience. Full Stop. They don't muse, ponder, weigh up, analyse or reflect. They run headlong into arms of love. They bury their heads in the father or mother or caregiver. They can do this physically and they certainly do this emotionally.
They receive love through this experience. This can bring nurture and growth or, if lacking, bring attrition and harm.
On this every psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, sociologist agrees.

And yet we have spent years inputting head knowledge into children.
It's time for a change.


  1. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Flip, dont like to contradict!

    But as well as experiencing, my kids do challenge, ask questions, contemplate, etc .....

    Experiencing, runing into the arms of love, is something they DO. But children also do MORE than that, adn asking the big questions is one of those things. Children do so much more than experience, and I think we limit them and box them in if we say that is all that they do,


  2. Susan3:43 PM

    that was me. Susan!

  3. Hi Susan! I think we know each other well enough to engage in good debate :-)

    My intention in this post was never to make out that children ONLY experience emotional responses to God. I would NEVER negate Westerhoff's searching faith phase and indeed we aim to engage with this in the small groups in our 8s to 11s programme. "Ask anything" is allowed! I was merely pointing out something that churchianity in the west can and does underplay; and I have yet to find any scholarly work that disagrees with the fact that we have taught too much head knowledge (repetitively!) to children.

    My plea is for some balance.

    No sorries required, all comments welcome!
    C ya tomorrow x


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