Excerpts from

Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation:

Bridging Between Theory and Ministry Models


See Awana Embraces Contemplative Spirituality!

Notice the absence of any reliance on the Holy Spirit. The credit for any success goes to human reasoning or good luck:

Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation: Bridging Between Theory and Ministry Models: "Although programs exist in each of these avenues, it is often difficult to get successful ministry practitioners to articulate just why their programs are successful. Without this descriptive analysis it is difficult to determine whether their success is based on clearly thought out theological or philosophical reasoning of just plain good luck. In some cases, the success may be based on the 'fad of the day' approach to ministry experience.

"This presentation will seek to connect theory to practice [PRAXIS] by providing a forum for the analyzing four major models of children’s spiritual formation to examine their theological foundations of children ministry, their philosophical presuppositions.... These four models include the:

"Contemplative Reflective Model (characterized by moments of quiet reflection, introspective prayer, and guided imagery).

"Instructional Analytic Model (characterized by a systematic presentation of biblical teaching, emphasis on scripture memory with elaborate reward systems, and hierarchical design structure).

"Pragmatic Participatory Model (characterized by a propensity towards choreographed singing, dramatic presentations of Bible stories, numerous activities in a teaching hour, and a mild integration of instructional technology).

"Media-Driven Active Engagement Model (characterized by high energy, heavily vested in instructional technology, with children always in motion. They make use of dramatic arts, video, and impacting music....)"


Perspectives on Children’s Spiritual Formation

Chapter 1: The Contemplative Reflective Model (by Scottie May)


"The aim of the Contemplative-Reflective Model of children's ministry is this: to help children encounter God in ways that result in a sense of awe and wonder, to help them consider things of God with continued attention. The model seeks to assist them in finding the quiet place within themselves -- a place that all children have -- where they can sense the presence of God and hear his voice.....

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to contemplate means 'to give long and attentive consideration, especially of spiritual matters.' In a similar vein, to meditate means 'to focus one's thoughts or to ponder, to engage in contemplation.'...

"Scripture.... makes references through equivalent words. Meditate and meditation are used numerous times.... the book of Psalms contains more than 75 percent of the 'meditate" references in the Bible." [Pages 45-46]

Yes, the Bible has many references to meditation, but Biblical meditation -- in contrast to Buddhist or contemplative meditation -- refers to a prayerful reflection and focus on God's Word so that we will know and be changed by it!

"Spirituality is complex and multifaceted. In some traditional the concept of the age of accountability lends itself to the erroneous idea that children, before they reach a certain age.... are not spiritual in the sense that they do not have a relationship with God. But spirituality also connotes a broader meaning, in a sense, a universal spirituality, though not all spirituality is Christian. This model validates that all children are spiritual and have the potential for Christian spirituality as do all people.....
     "Spirituality is described by some as awareness beyond the self, personal or impersonal, and may be named God, a power, or a presence. The spiritual is the nonphysical aspect of self, yet it is related to self in that we are physical beings.
      "Rebecca Nye, a British researchers of children's spirituality, uses the phrase 'relational consciousness' to describe this quality in children. This consciousness possesses an existential awareness, a sensing of mystery, as well as aspects of the values of the meaning of life. 'Spiritual' is not just something we ought to be. It is something we are and cannot escape.... It is our nature and our destiny."
[Page 48]



"John Bradford... maintains that the concept of spirituality is best viewed as tripartite: human, devotional, and practical.... It's primarily related to one's personal and social development. Devotional spirituality is advanced as one appropriates and practices the teachings of a particular religious body or faith tradition. Becoming an adherent to a particular religious group characterizes this form of spirituality. Practical spirituality is defined as the integration of human and devotional spirituality." [Page 17]


"It's reflected in the capacity that individuals have for affection, personal friendships, resilience during adversity, endeavor, enquiry, reverence, reflection, and a sense of interpersonal and social responsibility. Through not overtly religious, Bradford's model seeks to demonstrate that religion can, and often does, play an integral role in the formation of one's spirituality....  [Page 17-18]


"Rebecca Nye used extensive qualitative research on children in the UK to espouse a construct which she refers to as 'relational consciousness.' Based on extensive interviews of children, she describes children's spirituality 'as an unusual level of consciousness or perceptiveness relative to other passages of that child. It is characterized by the perceptions the child in relationship to other people, God or themselves.


This relational consciousness is built upon three categories of spiritual sensitivity. Each category comes with three examples from their research. 'First is awareness-sensing, including the 'here-and-now' experience such as meditation sometimes practiced by Buddhists; 'tuning' which an awareness that emerges during aesthetic experience; the intense and undivided concentration that is labeled 'flow'; and 'focusing ' which involves a holistic awareness of the body. The second category is mystery-sensing and includes the experience of wonder and awe associated with the ultimate mystery of life, or the use of active imagination that transcends everyday experience. The third category of spiritual sensitivity is value-sensing, as expressed in delight or despair.... a sense of ultimate goodness and trust in life; and the quest for ultimate meaning and identity related to that meaning." [Page 17-18]

Salvation by faith is discussed on pages 125-126

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