At the Heart of Spiritual Formation for Kids

Hear about spiritual formation and how it can change everything in this Family Ministry Conversation video.
5 min read

How are you doing? My name is Kit Rae, and I am from Rock Harbor Church in Southern California. And I want to talk a little bit about this idea of spiritual formation and how it plays out in children’s and family ministries.

I’m convinced that it’s out of relationship that we see lifetime faith.

But for me, it’s really rooted in my story. I’m a product of an amazing children’s ministry, a church that lived out their faith. But it really wasn’t until college that I started to ask different questions.

John 10:10 began to just ring through my ears. “The thief comes to rob, steal, kill, and destroy.” But when Jesus says “I came to give life and life to the full” … Was that what I was experiencing?

In all reality, it wasn’t. But it wasn’t for a lack of knowing. And it wasn’t for a lack of knowledge. Nor was it for a lack of even behavior in my life. But it was due to a lack of relationship. If I’m honest, I don’t know if I could have told anyone what it means to hear God’s voice.

Spiritual Formation Is about Relationship

Woman-child-hugging
Image Credit: Thomas Barwick/DigitalVision/Getty Images

And so when we talk about being formed into a people, when we talk about being made into the image of Christ and reflecting Him, what I was missing was ultimately foundational in all of it. And it was the relational part.

I knew the right answers. But at the end of the day, I didn’t know what it meant to be in a relationship with the living God.

I’m convinced that it’s out of being formed into His likeness through a relationship that we see lifetime faith.

We see faith that will last beyond high school. We see faith that will change and shape the way that we parent, the way that we love others, and the way that we love and put Jesus on display in our communities.

I Wanted Something Different for My Ministry

And so, for me, it was written in my story. And I wanted something radically different. I wanted something different for the parents I was coming alongside of. I wanted something different for the kids I was ministering to, and for the students we were walking alongside of.

And at the end of the day if I were to boil it down in its simplest form, we were wrestling with the question: how do we help this emerging generation to know and hear God’s voice?

How are they flexing those muscles? How are they wrestling with listening and paying attention to what He has invited them into? And then how do we cheer them on? How do we celebrate what it means to then respond and to follow Him?

Learning to Help Our Kids Hear God’s Voice

For us, we just started to experiment with helping kids hear and pay attention to God’s voice and then wrestling with those kinds of questions.

I remember we had a kid coming who was a 5th grader. And he was actually in tears on this particular Sunday. He was saying, “I don’t know how to hear God’s voice, and I don’t know if He speaks to me. Is there something wrong with me?”

And we began to have a dialog and a conversation with him. What we quickly realized was that he was waiting for that burning bush moment—a loud, booming, audible voice. And what we talked about was oftentimes it’s in the quiet.

It’s when we’re reading Scripture. It’s when we’re maybe worshiping God, or when we’re just sitting quietly maybe in our bed at night, and we begin to pay attention to God’s voice. And I remember in that moment, his countenance just changed, and his eyes lit up like he thought, “Oh, I know that God has spoken to me here, or I know that voice.”

And we got to have those conversations, and I thought, “Oh, what a spiritually forming moment when we can come alongside this 5th grader to help him hear, to help him discern, to help him flex those God muscles from the earliest ages.”

Portrait of farm children
Image Credit: filadendron/Bulgaria/Getty Images

Experiencing a Relational God

And so, as a pastor, I am more convinced than ever that we need to be helping this generation to look like Jesus. It’s not going to be simply based on information.

It’s going to be rooted in relationship, and how we are taking in information is so vital … but not just stopping there. How are we allowing information and what we teach to move to a place of relationship where our kids get to wrestle and kick against and receive and accept what it means to be in a relationship with the living God?

And what’s beautiful in this is that we have seen God be faithful. God loves to meet with His kids. He loves to meet with His parents. He loves to meet with His people. And He will do it every single time.

Sometimes We Need to Get Out of the Way

And oftentimes it’s us just getting out of the way. It’s us creating space for our people to encounter the living God. And at our church we do this with our adults every weekend, we do this with our high school students, and we do this with our elementary kids.

We actually start this with our little 3-years-olds and help them flex these muscles, to pay attention to God’s voice so that they can be shaped in the image of God.

And we are seeing a generation look different. It’s not overnight, it’s not even fast. It is a slow and steady approach as we are seeing God speak to people in our church. We are seeing people respond in faith that is courageous and bold. We are seeing people come to Christ and look more like Jesus.

And so let this be an encouragement to you today to allow space for people to encounter the living God, to flex those muscles. I’m excited to see how this will impact and shape you as a leader, as a pastor, as a parent, as a friend. But I’m also excited to see how this is going to shape your church.

What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing the mark? Research shows that young people are leaving the church and aren’t looking back. In this guide, we examine this difficult, challenging, and eye-opening question and seek answers to help change the trends. There is hope. We can make a difference.
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What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing the mark? Research shows that young people are leaving the church and aren’t looking back. In this guide, we examine this difficult, challenging, and eye-opening question and seek answers to help change the trends. There is hope. We can make a difference.
Free Guide
What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

What if We're Failing Kids at Faith Formation? (And How Not To)

Have you ever wondered if we’re missing the mark? Research shows that young people are leaving the church and aren’t looking back. In this guide, we examine this difficult, challenging, and eye-opening question and seek answers to help change the trends. There is hope. We can make a difference.
Free Guide
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  Updated on June 4, 2021

About the Author

  • Kit Rae is the Executive Pastor at ROCKHARBOR church in Costa Mesa, CA. He has over 20 years of ministry experience and is increasingly passionate about what the future of church holds. He has earned his B.A. from Biola University in Christian Education, and his M.A. in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care from Talbot Theological Seminary. He has been married for 17 years to his best friend Gina and they love being parents to their son Ryder and daughter Eden.

  • Your Ministry Spark Team is made of ministry volunteers, leaders, and experts who work with David C Cook. We’re passionate about helping others know, love, and follow Jesus. And, we have a big heart for those who serve the kingdom—that’s you. Together, we can do this!

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