I write this as I am preparing to attend Rev. Leanne Hadley’s Holy Listening Training. I previously attended a five-day Holy Listening event a number of years ago when I was working in Children’s Ministry with Rev. Holly. Those five days confirmed what I have always believed about children and their faith. Rev. Hadley teaches that children are born with an open heart and connection with God. One of my earliest memories is of the Sunday school teacher who said to me, “Cathy, God is love.” I believed her because she was nice and I trusted her. Now I know that I believed because I was born into this life knowing God. I had wonderful parents who nurtured that early connection with God through Jesus. Because of their faithful example, I never remember a time when I did not believe in a loving God.
Each of us has a responsibility to the children around us to nurture their innate connection with God. It is not, however, an easy task. Children will challenge our learned perceptions when we give them the space to express and live out their faith. Our job is not to fix them, but rather to encourage them and to give them room to expand and grow their faith in the ways that the Holy Spirit leads them. There is no “one size fits all” when working with children, any more than there is for us, as adults. It is true that each of us has our own very special call. The same is true for children. The fact that they are not grown does not limit God’s ability to work his plan through them.
It is my hope and prayer that we would all handle these little sprouts very carefully because they can be very fragile. I hope that we will gently guide our children in their faith journeys. I hope that we will remember that we are not always the wise ones in these relationships…that they have much to teach us. I hope that we will listen carefully to their reminders of our own faith journeys. I hope that we will simply take their little hands and enjoy the opportunity to relive our own inner child’s faith walk.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”