The Curiosity of Children: A Gift for Us All

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on The Spirituality of Children. Read other perspectives here.

Every week at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City I have the privilege of sitting with dozens of the greatest theologians I have ever encountered. They don't have fancy degrees (yet). They don't know (many) multi-syllabic words. And their average age is somewhere around eight years old.

This is the Message for All Ages.

I lay out a blanket in the front of the sanctuary and invite all the children, youth, and anyone feeling young at heart to join me for a message for all ages. We sit in a circle on the floor and I hold up an object or tell them a story or invite them to make a pose. And our theology discourse is underway.

This is not a moment to use kids as a prop to say something to adults (that's my biggest rule). It isn't an episode of "Kids Say the Darndest Things" (although sometimes they do). This is a space for all ages, especially the youngest in our community, to bring their questions and curiosity and discover the ways God is inviting them to join a movement for love and justice.

"How do you show someone that you love them?" "Why do you think people come to church?" "What's your favorite things to make with Legos?"

I always ask them a question or two. And then I actually let them answer. I have a plan of what we'll do together but much of this moment is improv. It's more like good jazz than a well-rehearsed symphony.

Because their answers are the most important part. Their curiosity is a gift to us all. Their point of view offers so much for all of us to see. The gift of an intergenerational worshiping community is in the wisdom of the elder and the wonder of the child.

This Sunday, for Pentecost, I will be turning the mic over to my favorite theologians (though they don't know this yet). Pentecost is the day when we remember the Spirit of God speaking through all the people and not just grown-ups who made it through seminary. And so on this Pentecost Sunday I will be asking our children and youth what they think God wants to say to our church and to our world. Then, trusting the Spirit of God to be in all of us, especially the wide-eyed and wonder-filled young people in our midst, I will hand them the mic and listen as the Word continues to be made fresh from God's breath to their lips to our ears.

The spirituality of children is a gift for us all, an invitation to play and laugh, to be curious and filled with questions, to open our lips and let the Spirit of God speak the good news of love and justice into the world around us. Embrace wonder. Dive into curiosity. Sit with a child and experience life and faith and love and God from their point of view. Because the spirituality of children should not be relegated to a Sunday School classroom or a children's bulletin but should be unleashed in our sanctuaries and pulpits, a gift of God for all the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

A few examples of the Message for All Ages at Middle Collegiate Church:

The Story of Purple Urple: https://youtu.be/0E2otKfkayo

Clean Up Your Legos: https://youtu.be/gf1sC5o5YBU

Watching for God: https://youtu.be/8IYdCeJJFT4

Advent Dance: https://youtu.be/ng6J1kGKVbs

Revolutionary Love Workout Routine: https://youtu.be/mjewXtKsQ3c