When Quinn Lucey takes a walk in the woods with her kids, she loves pointing out all the beauty around them. “Isn’t that deer beautiful?” she might ask. “God created that.” It may be a small thing, but the Rev. Kathy Pittenger says this kind of faith formation is really important for young kids. As a loving parent introduces the language and concepts of God, it helps kids to see God as loving and engaged in the world, and loving toward them.
“The world is a scary place,” Pittenger says. “Spiritual formation offers a lifetime of being able to breathe.” She equips children’s ministry across the state through the Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church.
She said that as a part of a series of videos that help explain the value of early spiritual formation, of telling the biblical stories to kids, of listening to their questions and being willing to admit when we don’t have all the answers, and the importance of simple steps to help children to explore ideas of faith and belief.
The pandemic has been nothing but stress for parents and young families. Especially before vaccination, it was a constant balancing act between competing needs. Arts, sports, school, music, these are all important. As is physical safety. The pandemic also made me realize, as a pastor, just how rarely we talk about the importance of spiritual formation.
I’ll speak for myself. I don’t know who I would be today without an early formation into faith. I was a thoughtful and quiet and creative kid. I wanted to dance and think and explore on my own. I lost my beloved grandma when I was still in elementary school. I had questions and needed deep answers. Prayer centered me and I also knew there are places I can go to find answers. I am settled and rooted and a more healthy person because of it. And the knowledge that I am created by someone who loves me and never leaves me is something I cling to every single day.
Did you know youth and young adults who have a faith community are less likely to experience mental health issues? Read more from Rev. Kathy https://michiganumc.org/making-a-case-for-our-childrens-spirituality/
After a few years of parenthood with constantly canceled plans, shifted schedules and limited help with childcare, parents of young children know all too well the realities of stress and worry and anxiety. Being able to lean on God in times of struggle is important to those of us who cling to faith. Our message to parents this season is that we are here and ready to walk with your family, to encourage you and your young ones, from the earliest ages, to feel comfortable at church and with exploring spirituality. Our prayer is that our kids and our adults alike have all the tools we can possibly have to lean on God in good times and in struggle.
Central Church offers children’s programs on Sundays and Wednesdays through the year, and Compassion Camp Bible School in June. For more information, see our events lineup or contact Erica Kozlowski, Director of Children and Youth Ministries.
Read more about what Central Church and The Michigan Conference are doing to encourage early spiritual formation. https://michiganumc.org/conference-launches-spiritual-formation-toolbox/