So I stumbled upon another connection between faith and reading… thanks to God and the beautiful and talented Rachel for their insight. ;) Rachel is in charge of the children’s ministry at our church. She’s been working on a vision/five year plan for children’s ministry, and one of her ideas is to give kids the opportunity to use their gifts… passions/interests, musical or artistic talent, sports ability… in the church. I think it’s a great idea and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this.
As we were talking, I got one of those “I’m going to use too many words to describe this, but help me work it out” thoughts, which Rachel so graciously went along with. In my job, I come across so many reluctant readers. Kids who only think of reading as the required kind. It’s not fun. They certainly wouldn’t do it for pleasure. On the other side, people who love reading can often point to some experience; they read a certain book or found books on a topic that they really care about, and so they began reading because they liked to. I remember reading the Anne of Green Gables series as a young girl and from then on, I was hooked. So when I am giving parents and kids book suggestions, I always ask questions about what the child is interested in… I want to find them that book that’s going to grab them and make them life-long readers. (Yes, I aim high ;) ) I want them to have that turning point experience in reading that makes it something they like, not something they’re required or told to do by an adult.
Here’s the connection. We had been talking in Bible study that night about how kids who grow up going to church sometimes experience a period of falling away, often in their late teens, but in the past, the majority comes back to the church. This isn’t the case anymore; more are staying away from the church. I was lucky enough to grow up in a supportive, loving Christian home, and I didn’t turn from my relationship with Christ during college, but it was certainly a growing period. I had to learn that my faith was my own, not my parents. I think Rachel’s idea of seeing kids use their gifts in church at a young age is an important step for kids to “own” their faith. We talk about spiritual gifts maybe around the teenage years, but sometimes not until we’re adults. I’m not saying we should determine spiritual gifts at 8 years of age, but we should ask what makes them excited? What do they love to do? What are their physical, artistic or musical talents? And then how can they use those gifts and talents and passions in the church. This isn’t the “cure-all”, but think how it could change individuals’ relationships with God and the church and give God glory if we grow up feeling like our gifts and talents are of use to God. It could be one of those turning point experiences that helps make their relationship with God that much more relevant. There are other ways of course, but it’s just a thought.