Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion is the process by which we grow in rela­tion­ship with God and there­fore, grad­u­al­ly, all the aspects of our per­son begin to take on the char­ac­ter of Christ. Every­one receives a spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion of some kind, just like every­one receives an edu­ca­tion. As with edu­ca­tion, the ques­tion for spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion becomes, What kind of spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion will our chil­dren receive?” While there has been much empha­sis on Chris­t­ian edu­ca­tion of chil­dren, there has been lit­tle empha­sis on inten­tion­al dis­ci­ple­ship to Jesus. We have instruct­ed our chil­dren in the ways of the church, and we have taught them about God, but we have not often helped them to grow in rela­tion­ship with God. We have not often opened a space for chil­dren to expe­ri­ence God. 

Life with God for Chil­dren is a spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion cur­ricu­lum for chil­dren. It is unique­ly Ren­o­varé in nature. The spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion prin­ci­ples flow from the work of Dal­las Willard and Richard Foster. 

Life with God for Chil­dren acknowl­edges four shap­ing prin­ci­ples. The first is: The Action of the Spir­it in Our Lives. From our very begin­ning God has been seek­ing us out. The Spir­it has been whis­per­ing invi­ta­tions into our ears from our first heart­beat. In Life with God for Chil­dren we acknowl­edge that chil­dren already have a life with God, but they may not have the lan­guage or cog­ni­tion to let us adults in on it. We teach from the real­i­ty that God is already form­ing a rela­tion­ship with children. 

The sec­ond shap­ing prin­ci­ple is: Their Own Lives. Every child is born with her own king­dom that God has giv­en her to rule. The choic­es she makes, the expe­ri­ences that she has, her joys and sor­rows are all fod­der for her life with God. God uses the hap­pen­ings of a child’s own life for that child’s formation. 

The third shap­ing prin­ci­ple is: The Life of Jesus. We are shaped by that to which we are con­sis­tent­ly exposed. If we are invit­ed to con­nect with the life of Jesus on a reg­u­lar basis, his life, death, and res­ur­rec­tion will shape us. In Life with God for Chil­dren there are sev­en Jesus lessons” based on Richard Foster’s book Streams of Liv­ing Water: Cel­e­brat­ing the Great Tra­di­tions of the Chris­t­ian Faith. Jesus is infi­nite­ly relat­able to chil­dren. In his life he is com­pas­sion­ate, he is good, he calms fears, heals, and nur­tures. Just as he was in his day, Jesus is cap­ti­vat­ing to the chil­dren of our day. 

The last shap­ing prin­ci­ple is: The Spir­i­tu­al Dis­ci­plines. Richard Foster’s 12 Spir­i­tu­al Dis­ci­plines found in his book, The Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline, are pep­pered through­out Life with God for Chil­dren. These 12 dis­ci­plines are ways that chil­dren con­nect with God. Dur­ing the les­son chil­dren engage in these ancient ways of con­nec­tion and reap the fruit of that connection. 

Life with God for Chil­dren is root­ed in the Ren­o­varé Life with God Bible. Each les­son is based on a char­ac­ter pro­file that comes from the Life with God Bible. As every per­son is in need of a spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion, even the life of the teacher, who is teach­ing the chil­dren, is not neglect­ed. The sec­tion titled, Back­ground Notes for Teach­ers,” gives page num­bers in the Life with God Bible that set the stage for the les­son and help open the space for the adult to con­nect with God. Dal­las Willard’s excel­lent teach­ing on the aspects of the per­son influ­enced every les­son as we sought to make a space for the whole per­son of the child to con­nect with God. Whole per­son for­ma­tion is not a lux­u­ry, but a neces­si­ty in our life with God. 

The over­ar­ch­ing pur­pose of Life with God for Chil­dren is to intro­duce chil­dren to their life with God. The Scrip­tures are the anchor, and spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­plines are a means of open­ing the space for rela­tion­ship. Our inten­tion is not only to teach chil­dren the sto­ries of oth­ers who lived their lives with God, but also to give chil­dren the tools and the oppor­tu­ni­ties to live their own life with God. 

To see sam­ples of the Life with God for Chil­dren: Engag­ing Bib­li­cal Sto­ries and Prac­tices for Spir­i­tu­al For­ma­tion cur­ricu­lum check out our web site at www​.good​dirt​min​istries​.org and click on the resources tab.

We’re glad you’re here!

Help­ing peo­ple like you abide with Jesus is why we post resources like this one. Always ad-free, Ren­o­varé is sup­port­ed by those who know soul-care is vital. Would you join us?

Donate >