Bearing Gifts and Receiving Burdens: A Theological Approach to Ministry with Children

2012, 19 pp
When adults talk down to, or over the heads of, children, when adults assume children are neither capable of understanding nor even interested in knowing Bible stories, or of participating in worship or in the political life and ministry of an ecclesial community, adults rob children of the very community they need to learn what it means to be the church. And this, of course, is what happens in churches, in communities, and in families everyday. This failure to take children seriously is simultaneously to fail to receive the gift, and to bear the burden, of the child’s presence. Moreover, insofar as the church likewise fails to receive the gift and bear the burden that is the vulnerability of one another in community, made most acutely present in and through the young, the church fails, in fact, to be the church. In what follows, I suggest that fundamental to what it means to “be” church is becoming a community of people whose lives are formed in the virtues such that receiving the gift and bearing the burden of children becomes a habit, something woven into the very fabric – into the very DNA – of what it means to be the body of Christ.

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