Yesterday I flew to Melbourne for the day to present a paper at an annual Symposium on Children's Spirituality hosted by the UCA Centre for Theology & Ministry. This is a great initiative by Chris Barnett to promote some academic reflection on ministry with children. It was attended by about 75 people from across the denominations - churches and schools - and Uniting Church ministry candidates.
Marian de Souza from ACU spoke about "The spiritual dimension" of education. Glenn Cupit from UniSA talked about positive and negative influences on the spiritual lives of children. Due to an early flight home I missed the final presentation.
My paper was from the perspective of faith communities. I showed video excerpts from two inveriews that were conducted as part of my research. I invited people to think about what the interviewees were saying in terms of faith/spiritual development and children. I used Stephen Bevans' Models of Contextual Theology to help people think about how a leaders' or churches' theological perspective on faith/revelation and culture/context might shape its approach to faith development with children. ie. is there a correlation between these things and how they view and engage with the "world of the child"?
I didn't really have enough time (hard to do all that with video clips in 45 mins...) but I did receive a few positive comments afterwards.
It's been helpful to help me work through a bit more how valuable this approach might be for my ongoing research.