By Jo Hales
Taken from St John's Parish Magazine - Spring 2023
At the beginning of the academic year, I enrolled in the Aurora children’s course with the Diocese of Southwark. The course is aimed at people who are just starting, as well as those who have an
established ministry with children. I asked for your prayers for this new venture especially as in school days, I would have been described as a reluctant student. Some of you have been kind enough to ask about my progress and offer support and encouragement so I thought that it might be a good time to update you on my progress so far.
The course is a mixture of face-to-face and online teaching during evenings and weekends so that it can be fitted in around my current full-time job. There are three modules in total and I have attended six teaching sessions and handed in four essays. My main lecturer is Roni Lamont, author of ‘Faith in Children’ which is one of the course texts among many other books.
In module one, we considered questions like ‘What is children’s ministry?’ (should we think of it as ministry for, or with, children?), 'How children’s spirituality is formed?' and 'Why are we involved in children’s ministry?' including examining our skills and looking at personal growth and pastoral care.
In module two, we covered the theology of a child, faith development, spiritual styles and inclusive children’s ministry. Both modules helped me reflect on what we already do well at St John's and what we can set our sights on for the future to keep growing and developing our children and families work.
David Csinos' research into the spiritual styles of children particularly resonated with me as in my business life I have done a few courses based on Myers Briggs personality profiling which I consider to be similar. David Csino’s theory states that there are four spiritual styles in which children/people relate to God. These styles are:
Word - people who like the beauty and order of words
Emotion - how things feel is the person's most important response
Symbol – those who see God's presence in silence and feel his presence in nature and mystery
Action - those who expect an expression of faith to be a call to action (toilet-twinning being a good example)
His suggestion is that each child/person will have one dominant spiritual style and will need to see that style modelled within the church/children’s ministry in order to feel a sense of validation and belonging. His suggestion is that all four styles should try to be included in Church/children’s ministry in order to capture children’s natural curiosity and grow their faith in a way that makes sense to them.
I had the opportunity to engage with his work and uncover my personal spiritual style through a questionnaire. Armed with this knowledge, I am better able to understand how to relate to others, children and adults alike who may have different or opposite styles. My challenge to you is to reflect on your spiritual style and perhaps those of your children.