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Mennonite Educators Conference
September 22-24, 2005
Workshop: Practices for Nurturing Children in Faith
Presenter: Dr. Sara Wenger Shenk

What do Anabaptist Mennonites believe about the nature of childhood?

What’s faith got to do with childhood?

How can we risk embarking on a spiritual quest with the children in our care, seeking faithfulness together, creating a faith oriented culture with faith-infused practices?

What is faith and faithfulness?

How do responses to faith change over time?

 Age-Related Aspects of Faithfulness

Birth to Three Years

Three to Eight Years

Nine to Twelve Years

How do we cultivate faithfulness in children?

A full spiritual life for children will combine elements of reflection and action in a never-ending movement of “journeying inward toward God and outward toward neighbors.” Children can grow up seeing the world as a place where their actions make a difference and are integrally related to their spirituality—the call of God and their faith community.


Primary source: Real Kids: Real Faith—Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives by Karen Marie Yust, Jossey-Bass, 2004

Other sources: Will Our Children Have Faith, by John Westerhoff, Morehouse Publishing, 1976

Puddles of Knowing: Engaging Children in Our Faith Heritage by Marlene Halpin, Wm. C. Brown, 1984

The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding our Families, by Mary Pipher, Ballantine, 1996.

Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development by James Fowler, Harper 1981

“Complex Innocence, Obligatory Nurturance, and Parental Vigilance: ‘The Child’ in Menno Simons” by Keith Graber Miller in The Child in Christian Thought edited by Marcia Bunge, Eerdmans, 2001

The Moral Intelligence of Children: How to Raise a Moral Child by Robert Coles, Random House, 1997

Growing in the Life of Faith by Craig Dykstra, Geneva Press, 1999.

Belonging and Growing in Christian Community by Walter Brueggemann, Presbyterian Church US document, 1979

“The Legitimacy of a Sectarian Hermeneutic: 2 Kings 18-19, by Walter Brueggemann in Education for Citizenship and Discipleship edited by Mary Boys, Pilgrim Press, 1989