I have no scientific evidence. (Not that there's none out there- I just haven't looked) I have not conducted any surveys. But I have spoken with, listened to and walked beside hundreds of parents who are seeking to open their children up to their own life with God. Christ-like spiritual formation in the home is alive and well! (Go on and do the happy dance.)
These parents have a vision* for what a life with God looks like because they are engaging in their own life with God. They have authentically walked with God through life’s ups and downs. They have a hard fought hope that their experience of God will seep into the lives of their children. They are not short sighted and they are not delusional. They love God and they love their children.
These parents are loaded with intention*. They are willing to sacrifice the cultural norms, they are will to sacrifice their own comfort, wants and often even their needs. They are not the parents of sitcoms and lazy parenting. With steady hands and hearts they host space for shaping, molding, not punishing or condemnation. With all that they are, they long for their children to find their identity, indeed their belovedness in the Loving Community of the Trinity.
These parents often ask me for means*. They are looking for resources that offer teaching, practices, tips, and encouragement. Today, I’d like to suggest a resource.
Imaginative Prayer: A Yearlong Guide For Your Child’s Spiritual Formation by Jared Patrick Boyd is an excellent resource to use both in families and in churches. In it Boyd creates a space for catechism (propositional knowledge) to intersect with imagination (experiential knowledge). Human beings grow in propositional knowledge—knowing about-- and experiential knowledge—our direct experience of that thing. For example: knowing about a peach is much different than feeling the fuzzy outside of peach and then sinking your teeth into the sweet orange flesh and letting the juice drizzle down your chin. Now, that is knowing a peach.
For most of the history of the church we’ve focused on making sure children had knowledge about God, rather than a knowledge based in their own experience. This second kind of knowledge – experience of God—has been missing. So how do we help our children engage in an experience of God?
C.S. Lewis offered a bit of guidance when he said,
“Reason is the organ of truth, but imagination is the organ of meaning.”
If we want our knowledge of God to have meaning to impact our real-kitchen-table lives we need to engage our imagination. In Imaginative Prayer Boyd walks parents and teachers through lessons and insights into allowing the human imagination to be at the service of our life with God.
If you are looking for a resource for the spiritual formation of children I highly recommend Imaginative Prayer.