Kids grow up so fast. We see the children in our lives from their birth until they have grown and matured into adults with lives of their own to live. Their growth and development is so very important. We enjoy seeing how they grow physically and even intellectually as their minds develop and become full of knowledge. But have you ever considered how children grow spiritually?
In 1981 James Fowler wrote a book titled “Stages of Faith,” in which he shares a theory on how people develop their faith just as they do their cognitive and social abilities. Stage one of faith development starts at preschool age where their ideas about God come mainly from parents. Stage two begins at elementary school age when children begin to understand the world more logically, and the stories of faith that are shared through faith communities are understood in very literal ways.
When children become teenagers they move into stage three, when they adopt a belief system that is all-encompassing and usually comes from individuals or groups that represent that faith system. The stages can continue into adulthood as we become more aware of the world around us and how our faith fits into that world.
While Fowler’s theory uses broad strokes to describe this concept of faith development, it is vital that parents take heed of this important process and how it plays out with their own children. Parents are in a position to a lay a strong foundation of faith even from infancy. Part of that foundation also comes from connecting with a faith community that will engage the child with not only the stories of faith, but what they mean for their lives.
In the Christian church, faith development begin with stories from God’s word, the Bible, which are shared by the parents and through programs like faith-based preschools or Sunday schools at the church. As the children grow, they need to continue building up their faith through programs that teach how God and His word impact their daily lives.
Parents always want the best for their kids. They will make sure their children get everything they need to grow and mature, and when faith development is part of that plan, the child will be even more blessed.