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Child Theology

Spiritual Formation //

Back in 2010, Peter Benzie completed his dissertation called: as a Little Child: Children in the Theology of John Wesley. Toward the beginning of his work, Benzie explains a theological discipline known as Child Theology:

Child Theology is an investigation that considers and evaluates central themes of theology (historical, biblical and systematic) in the light of the child standing beside Jesus in the midst of the disciples. This child is like a lens through which some aspects of God and his revelation can be seen more clearly. Or, if you like, the child is like a light that throws existing theology into new relief (White and Willmer, An Introduction to Child Theology, 6).

Taking its cue from Jesus, child theology is a way of undertaking theological and biblical studies using the child and children as a lens for it is they that are its central concerns. In doing so child theology sheds new light on existing theology, theological doctrines and ecclesial practices. Child theology then, in a very general sense, is any theology which is undertaken where the child is the key area of concern. Whilst the child and children are the key areas of concern, it is important to appreciate that they are not the focus of child theology. Rather the focus of the theological activity is Jesus Christ.

If you’ll remember, Jesus said something to the effect of: You must become like a child to enter the kingdom of heaven. It would assume, then, that we need to approach the words of Jesus as such and try to understand then (even explain them) as if to a child.

One of my greatest joys as a children’s pastor and Christian educator, is to impart the Word of God to children in a way that they can understand it. I cannot tell you how breaking the grand truths of Scripture into a form that is palatable for children has helped me understand and embrace the Gospel of Jesus because it is incredibly child-like and simple (not simple in a simplistic way, but in a simplicity on the other side of complexity way).

What does it look like to engage in child theology as we teach both children and adults?

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About the Author

I've been married for 9 years to Amanda Mavis and we have two daughters named Sari andMacie. We live in Hayward, WI and I serve as a Pastor with Youth and Children and their families @ Hayward Wesleyan Church. In conjunction with my role as a pastor, I work for The Wesleyan Church denomination and the division of Church Multiplication and Discipleship in Children’s Ministry. I serve as the interwebs expert. Together we connect, train and resource anyone who disciples kids.