Friday, May 6, 2011

Things that hinder holistic children's ministry

Doing children’s ministry in a holistic way is very important to me.  The Bible says that we are to love God with our heart, soul and mind.  But many times in children’s ministry we can fall into the trap of only focusing on one area and neglecting the others. I certainly have not “arrived” in the area of helping children to know God holistically, but I am committed to continue learning. 

Sometimes it is easier to start defining a thing by defining first what it is not.  I recently ran across this excellent article from Child Faith  called “Ten Rats in the Church”.  By “rats” the author means things that gnaw away at and get in the way of true spiritual development.  I would encourage you to read the entire article, but I am going to repost the points here:

  1.  “Following the rules” is more important than love and relationships.

  1. Teaching people they are spiritually incompetent and that only the “professionals” have something to give. (Having children pray for me for example have been some of my most powerful spiritual experiences.)

  1. Teaching or modelling that doing good things, and avoiding or hiding the bad, will make us more acceptable to God.

  1. Laughing or grinning at expressions of spiritual experience by young children.

  1. Trying to be like a really good school.

  1. Insisting there must be a major crisis salvation event.

  1. Maintaining a child-unfriendly environment. (Expecting kids to be little adults or using furniture that is too big.)

  1. Assuming kids are incomplete Christians. (Children are spiritual beings from birth on, even though their developmental level expresses it differently at each stage.)

  1. Religious activities such as excessive memorization that have little or nothing to do with spirituality or faith.

  1. Aquiescing to the culture rather than critically thinking through what should be accepted, adapted or rejected. (I would add to that the opposite:  rejecting the culture outright without considering its positive God-inspired aspects.)
In my own life, "following the rules" rather than focusing on love and grace had a negative impact on me, our family and ministry.  Reading Timothy Keller's "The Prodigal God" among other things helped me start on a new path. 

Have you found any of these things to 
have been hindrances in your spiritual development?  
What other hindrances might there be?

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