Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Carole Spencer, PhD

Second Advisor

Lacy Borgo, DMin


This dissertation explores the innate relational and spiritual nature of children. This dissertation assumes that children are deeply relational and spiritual as part of the image of God within them. Chapter one takes a comprehensive look at how children are struggling within this country on every measure of health, as well as how relational nurture and soul care are significantly lacking. Chapter two explores Biblical materials, especially the incarnation, Jesus’ interactions with children, passages from Deuteronomy, verses from Proverbs, and examples of children in Biblical narratives. The third chapter focuses on historical and theological materials, as well as theories from modern psychology. It begins with history from First Century Rome, when children were not even considered people and how the Judeo-Christian tradition stood in opposition to the cultures around them by giving dignity to little ones as God’s creations. It reveals the many ways that children and their nature have been viewed, sometimes very negatively; and how a lack of reflection or presence of childhood theology has been harmful to children. Chapters four and five discuss the relational and spiritual nature of children, respectively. The fourth chapter gives an extensive look at attachment theory and brain development, as well as children’s innate need for relationships. The fifth chapter explores children’s spirituality, ways children have not been welcomed or respected, and practical suggestions for nurturing soul care. The conclusion focuses on summarizing the main points of the dissertation and adding information on authentic spiritual formation and the need for secure attachment to parents and to God. It also gives some practical suggestions for parents. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that children are deeply spiritual and relational beings that require nurturing to become the people that God created them to be.