Symbol-Centered Spirituality…expanded

28 07 2011

Continuing in the four different spiritual styles is “Symbol-centered.”  Symbol-centered values silence and solitude and to provide children with “‘special spots’ where they would spend quiet time and receive spiritual nourishment” (80).

Csinos also highlights the value of nature and creation to help children engage with God.  They can experience God first-hand through nature as a form of prayer (81).

In summary, children with a symbol-centered approach to spirituality tend to value places withplenty of room where they can quietly spend time alone with God.  Since they love nature, these places are often outside.  Some of them might feel crowded and uncomfortable in Sunday school classrooms and may prefer to explore and experience God’s creation first-hand.  Prayer is a vital practice for these children, which is often manifested in quiet, private, and personalize ways.  Finally, the families of symbol-centered children tend to be key influences of their spiritual lives. (82)

While reading the book, it became evident to me that Csinos falls in line with a Symbol-centered spirituality.  He puts a great emphasis on this area of spirituality because it hits so close to home.

It does for him, and also for me.  I experience God through nature and times of silence and solitude.  I also experience God through symbols and imagery used in worship (something grossly lacking in most Evangelical churches).

So how do we minister to children who are Symbol-centered?  We must give them opportunities to be quiet and reflect on God.  We must teach them to value “quiet times” that they can spend with their creator.  We also need to provide them imagery and icons which can help to guide them in their worship.  These are commonly looked at as “too Catholic” or “too Orthodox” or “idol worship.”  None of that is true.  Those two other walks of faith have understood the value of using imagery to guide people in worship (people who are not word driven).

I would love to see our Symbol-Centered children embraced in church.  We must be very careful to prevent their claustrophobia that can help in Sunday School classes.  They need their space.  They need their quiet.  They need time for the spirit to be at work with their maker.

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