There is an interesting hypothesis on building spiritual maturity among our children. The hypothesis says children who build strong, positive relationships with adults within the church family are more likely to remain in the church and more likely to score higher on measures of spiritual maturity. So, the question then becomes is it true? The answer: The research of Tenelshof, J (2000) and of Barna, G (2003) supports the hypothesis. They found children who form a strong supportive, positive relationship with a church member outside of the family is more likely to continue to be a part of that faith group.
What does that mean to parents? Children do not go to church gatherings without the support of families. Children do not form relationships with people they never or rarely see. Therefore, if we want children to be a part of our church family as adults, we need to supply them with opportunities to form these relationships with people outside of the family.
The most secure relationships begin as infants and toddlers. Make sure the child has the opportunity to be loved on by the church family. Did you see the Easter pictures of children frolicking all over the hill behind the church building? Look at the faces of those children and of the adults who were there with them. That is a beginning. Let’s help these children to know the love of their church family. If you are not the parent, go greet a baby. Coo to them. Show interest in what they are interested in as they grow.
By: Tenelshof, Judith K., (2000). The Role of Secure Attachment in Predicting Spiritual Maturity of Student at a Conservative Seminary. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 00916471, Summer2000, Vol. 28, Issue 2.
Barna, George and Hybels, Bill (2003). Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions, Regal Publishing: Washington, DC.