In a child's life, the church has minimal time to make a maximum impact. The time children are in church must not be wasted, but should be spent in valuable and life changing ways. Stories have long been included in Christian education, but is the practice of telling stories something that is continued merely because "we've always done it this way," or is there merit in continuing their use? Story is a wildly popular theme in Christian education today and children love stories, but there is more to a story than mere amusement? Parents and Christian educators wrestle with questions such as "How do stories have lasting meaning and life changing influence on children's lives?" "How can stories be used to affect children's spiritual growth?" "What kinds of stories should be included?" These are important questions to consider as Christian educators set pedagogical goals and specific methodology is followed.
This research attempts to address these questions by investigating empirical, theoretical, and theological literature related to two domains: (a) what characterizes the spiritual life and development of children, and (b) how story can be used by Christian educators and parents to benefit the instruction and spiritual growth of children. Beginning with an analysis of the spiritual life of children, it will then be shown how story affects the whole person, rendering it a very powerful medium. Using Luke 10:27 as an organizing principle, story is analyzed as to how it affects the heart, the affective realm; the soul, the spiritual realm; strength, the behavioral realm; the mind, the cognitive realm; and loving neighbor as oneself, the social realm. These realms, together, comprise a faith that involves a totality of commitment. Recommendations are then made as to how parents and Christian educators can use the power of story to benefit the instruction and spiritual growth of children. The use of story can be a spark for children's spiritual growth and holds great potential benefit for the church and for the children who are a part of the community of faith.
|Advisor:||Lawson, Kevin E.|
|Department:||Talbot School of Theology|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 74/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Elementary education, Religious education, Developmental psychology, Spirituality|
|Keywords:||Children, Christian education, Narrative, Spiritual development, Story|
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