Squeezing out spirituality

One of the reasons we run Sanctum is that we believe passionately that young people are naturally spiritual; it’s just that life progressively squeezes it out of them. Children engage naturally and easily with opportunities to be spiritual and to reflect on spiritual things. Young people less so, but it’s still there. But spirituality is not something that people “grow out of”, like belief in Father Christmas, as if it’s a right of passage to adulthood. We know this because of the number of people that become more spiritually aware as adults, one example being the number who become Christians as adults from a totally non-Christian background (like me).

Sanctum (and other expressions of prayer spaces in schools) are about re-awakening the spiritual pulse that beats within children and young people, be it ever so slight. We’re seeking to give young people a glimpse of the connection between the spiritual and their everyday experience. So much of our schools work is simply passing on information about God – our great hope, or vision for a prayer space is that young people experience something of God.

Anyway, all this is by way of preface to a fabulous post by Dave Csinos, among other things a researcher of children’s spirituality, titled Educating out spirituality. He writes:

So, spirituality isn’t something that we achieve—it’s a gift from God that is woven into the very fabric of our innermost being. We can provide opportunities for children and youth to have spirit-to-Spirit connections with the One who gave them the gift of spirituality. Spirituality is something that can change, grow, and form. But it can also wither and fade away. To paraphrase Robinson’s words “We don’t grow into spirituality. We grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it.”

The whole post is relevant not just to the work we do in schools, but to the way we help our children and young people to grow in their relationship with God.

[h/t Youthblog]

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3 Responses to Squeezing out spirituality

  1. Hi, a really nice article saying – spirituality isn’t something that we achieve—it’s a gift from God that is woven into the very fabric of our innermost being.
    Why don’t you have a look at some of the personal growth content on the community: http://www.lifespace.com/Personal_Growth. Thanks! And keep up the nice content.

  2. Sparticus says:

    I’m really not sure I agree with this, I shall have to have a think about some of the exactness of it (and probably blog about it later), but I’m not sure what’s meant by spirituality here. We throw around the word spirituality quite a lot, but it’s ill-defined to the point of meaningless. If we define it as a connecting with God (as you imply here) then you’re defining a connection with God outside of the work of Jesus Christ. And if we’re presenting that we can come to God without Jesus, the cross, or the gospel, then surely we’re doing something wrong?

  3. Tim Abbott says:

    Thanks for the comment Mark (sparticus) – this is something we take seriously in our work. When I write “God” I mean the triune God who has revealed himself through Jesus and indwells the believer through the Holy Spirit, not the ‘god’ of populist imagination. But I also believe the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives, drawing them to hunger for God, if only they recognised it. Our experience of running prayer spaces is that they open up more opportunities to speak personally about Christ with young people than any of the other activities or teaching we do, valuable though these are.
    As Dave says in the quoted post:
    “Now, I’m sure that there are many well-intentioned congregations who believe that education, that learning about God, is the best thing they can do for their young. And they are right in believing that it’s important. But it can’t compare to the life-changing, life-giving, and life-forming experience of God’s presence in our lives.”
    Absolutely. The Hebrew understanding of “knowing” encompasses both the intellect and experience.

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