Creating Sacred Space for Children

My blogging hiatus has come to an end!  What a busy couple of months it has been!

One of the ministry projects that has taken up a great deal of my spare time has been the launch of an afterschool children’s ministry program in my local community.  One of the objectives of the ministry is to provide a platform for the Lutheran congregations in the town to connect in more significant ways with the many unchurched families and children that are associated with the Lutheran school that is here.

The events that we are hosting have a number of elements:

  1. Food and play time – the purpose is get food into the kids after a day at school and to get the wiggle out!
  2. Presentation of the event theme through music, drama, message etc.
  3. Activity time – crafts etc. offered in a rotational format.
  4. Small group time.
  5. Closing worship time.

We have had a great start, with the number of children at the second event doubling from the first.  There has been a lot of buzz around what has taken place, with God’s Word being shared in word and deed in a variety of ways.  But what has been most rewarding for the leaders has been the reaction of the children to the closing worship time.  In this time we have a song, revisit the theme Bible verse and have an open prayer opportunity  A candle is lit and the lights are turned off.  The way the kids have engaged in the prayer time has been amazing – a large proportion of the children have offered their one-sentence prayers one after the other in the large group … prayers that have been faith-filled, thoughtful and heartfelt.

The spiritual response and engagement of the children has emphasised to me once again the power and importance of creating “sacred space” for kids – places, spaces and times when they can express their faith in unscripted ways.  I suspect that in many children’s ministry programs there is much more emphasis on giving children “consumer experiences” than inviting and enabling them to develop and grow as “practitioners” of faith.  When and where we give children opportunity to express their faith in their own ways, we see unmistakeable signs of Christ alive in them.  Christ is as much present and at work in kids as he is in adults, and their faith is as real and valid as that of adults.  Even from the lips of infants, God has “ordained praise” (Matthew 21:16).

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