Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Shawna Lafreniere, PhD
Lacy Borgo, DMin
Training congregational leaders in the theological foundations and practical resources of children’s spiritual formation helps them lead congregations to value and nurture the entire communities’ spiritual formation.
An exploration of the role and nature of children from both biblical and theological perspectives reveals they are welcomed and valued members of the faith community and the Kingdom of God. Attempts to welcome and value children in faith communities have focused on their acquisition of religious knowledge rather than their holistic formation. Learning to value their presence, worship, and holistic formation in community requires a shift in vision and methodology.
Children’s sense of belonging in their faith community matters for their long-term faith efficacy and overall congregational health, and their presence benefits the whole church family. In intentionally integrated churches, the whole congregation invites children to grow and belong, while people from every generation are encouraged toward child-like wonder, authenticity, and flexibility when they involve children in communal activities like worship, prayer, service and celebration.
Unfortunately, many church leaders are ill-equipped to value children’s presence in their broader community. In order for systemic change to take place in congregations, senior leadership and lay leaders- people outside of traditional children’s ministry- must share and adopt a vision for formation-focused children’s ministry as well as intergenerational ministry. A guided process to lead systemic change equips churches with a stronger and more thoughtful framework for understanding children’s spiritual formation, a clear vision for the role of children in the community, and a process that helps the congregation’s culture adapt to value children’s presence and participation in congregational life. By valuing children as full participants in the life of faith, the whole church family grows together in Christ.
Turner, Robin Michelle, "Children's Faith Formation As Mutually Transforming Opportunity: Leading Systemic Change" (2019). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 300.