A Vision for Children and the Church
“A Vision for Children and the Church” was a response to a concern for the need for a systematic approach to ministering with and for children. Two basic principles guided the writing:
- The statement was to articulate the status of children both in the world and in the church and to set forth a vision for the church’s response on their behalf.
- The statement aimed not only to speak for children, but also to hear their voices and provide a way for them to speak for themselves. The intent was for the statement to be clear enough to be understood by a 10-year-old child. A draft was circulated in order to elicit responses from children.
Many children responded, with words and with art, about their hopes for the church and the world. Some of these responses are printed along with the statement itself in pamphlet form, available from the Church Store. Based on children’s responses, the statement was revised in order to make it more understandable and powerful.
“A Vision for Children and The Church” was adopted by the 205th General Assembly (1993).
Understanding children and their needs is an ongoing task that requires us to add to our knowledge, develop new skills and learn to use new tools.
New information, insights and research on children and childhood are emerging all the time. If you are ready to dig deeper and go further in understanding children and their needs, these books provide a start.
Welcoming Children: a Practical Theology of Childhood
By Joyce Ann Mercer
In this book the author examines the theological meaning of childhood. She explores how the church can best affirm and celebrate children as well as the practices that support and nurture children. Order from Chalice Press.
edited by Peter B. Pufall and Richard P. Unsworth
Against a backdrop of poverty and the dehumanizing environment of a consumer culture, children are often patronized or idealized by adults. Here 20 contributors from a variety of disciplines provide a multidisciplinary view of childhood in which children have both voice and agency. Includes a chapter by Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, Presbyterian minister and deputy general secretary for research and planning at the National Council of Churches of Christ. Order from Rutgers University Press.
Go Further: Children in Worship
Worship is central to the Reformed tradition. The Book of Order states:
In communal and personal worship God calls people to faith and discipleship. Those responding to this call offer themselves and the gifts which God has given them to be used in the life of the community of faith for ministries to the world and to one another (W-6.0001).
Integrating the needs and gifts of children into worship is not a one-time event relegated to a once-a-year special service. The worship resources included here can be used at any time during the church year to bring children front and center in the eyes of your congregation.
- Whoever Welcomes
(Mark 9:30-37) by the Rev. Bobbi Wells Hargleroad
- The Little Ones: What Children Show Us
(Deuteronomy 6:1-12, 20-25, Matthew 18:1-5) by the Rev. Kirby Lawrence Hill
- The Little Ones: Protecting the Vulnerable
(Exodus 1:8-22, Matthew 2:1-12) by the Rev. Kirby Lawrence Hill
A Decade of the Child Prayer for Children
Adults brought children to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. We too bring children today. We pray for children who are abused, neglected and undervalued.
An Invitation to Action for Children
As you go from this place
Carry with you these words on the needs of children —
they are an invitation to action.
Decade of the Child hymn
Help us to show your love, O Christ,
To children in our care,
And reach beyond till every child
Is held in love and prayer.