Friday, May 22, 2009

Children and the Holy Spirit

I have been feeling a strong urge for some time to teach into the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

Can children be filled with the Holy Spirit? What are your views on the Holy Spirit? Are you very cautious, as Francis Bridger is in his book "Children Finding Faith", or are you the exact opposite, like Rich Hubbard in his book "Taking Children Seriously"?

if this question is to be answered in an unbiased manner, one must first ask if children can have a personal faith and love for God. For if children can love God, then they receive the Spirit of sonship and can be filled to overflowing with his Holy Spirit.

John Westerhoff’s Theory of Faith Development is relevant to this question. He uses the analogy of a tree to describe the growth of faith in developing human persons. He says “a tree with one ring is as much a tree as a tree with four rings” , in other words experienced faith, the first stage of faith development, is as valuable for a person to possess as owned faith, the final stage. So a very young child can profess love for God the Father and Jesus the Son AND the Holy Spirit their helper – but adults need to teach even very young children about the Holy Spirit.

How can you love someone whose name you do not know?

There is much more I could say here, but it is the subject of a research paper that has to be externally marked so I will have to leave it here! ** Update - I have now been able to reveal more of my views now that my degree is finished! See entry on 27 Augus 2009.
I have to recommend Clark Pinnock's book "Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit". An awesome book in every meaning of the word!

I feel a call to make sure in our kids ministry programme that the Holy Spirit is taught about at cerebral level, welcomed at a personal level and free at a corporate level to minister to children.


  1. hey lynn, i'd love to read your research paper please... (geeky i know but genuinely interested...) also what do you think of john westerhoff's theology of children's ministry? xx

  2. LOL thanks for the vote of confidence and of course you can after the summer - its got to stay hidden away till marking/potential external marking!

    John Westerhoff::::::::::ahhhhh, pull up a chair and take a seat:::::::::::: love him.
    This gets me into emergent territory but you may like to know that Scripture Union and Brian McLare are all bedfellows in the realm of faith development, a fact that tickles me somewhat.

    Best book I can recommend on this kind of topic to get you thinking is "Children and the Gospel" by Ron Buckland, which is quite short so good for summer reading.
    Also Children and the Holy Spirit by Chris Leach. Also a "lighter" read but you may also want to check out anything by George Barna, which is based on more of a research angle (he's not involved in children's ministry but looks at why children and teenagers in the States are leaving the church in their droves)

    Still reading Clark Pinnock and I think I will be working on it for most of the summer.
    Final thought re: conversion. Paul's conversion is often singled out as "the model" of conversion so gradual moves towards God; faith that develops and evolves as a person grows in their knowledge and love for God; are sometimes dismissed out of hand. "What!?! That child has not yet said the sinner's prayer; how can s/he be saved?"

    Yet Paul had no remorse for his sin, no awareness of guilt and no repentance on the Damascus Road, nor was he convicted prior to the experience of his need of God and yet no-one doubts his conversion experience.........

  3. We are children's pastors in ohio, US and definately believe that children can be baptised in the spirit. my husband and I both had this experience when we were elementary age. What a great post to start discussion! Giving children the opportunity to seek this gift from God is so important and teaching them that the Holy Spirit is available to them (Acts 2:39) and will help teach, comfort, guide and strengthen to tell others about Him!

    God BLess!

  4. Dear Jenilee

    thank you so much for dropping by. Great to hear from folks doing a similar job. Your comment came to me at a moment where I needed some encouragement that I wasn't alone!
    It's a lonely place sometimes, kids ministry.

    Bless yoU!


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