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.gooddirtministries.org and click on the resources tab.

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