Action-Centered Spirituality…Defined

29 07 2011

Csinos acknowledges that the Action-Centered spiritualityhas been the least common of the four spiritual styles in recent Christian culture, but it has gotten better.  Amongst the 13 kids he worked with, only one showed this as her most dominant spiritual style.  In order to definite it, he writes,

Similar to its symbol-centered neighbor, an action-centered approach affirms that God and the spiritual life cannot be fully expressed to others.  However, these people believe that they need to do more than just pray for the world–they must actively and radically seek to transform it.  “This is the pathway of faith in action.”  It involves giving of oneself in order to improve the world.  People of this style strive to follow God’s divine will and to assertively  (and sometimes aggressively) help bring froth the coming reign of God.  This can cause them to empty themselves, to “sacrifice their personal lives for their hope that the kingdom will be realized on earth.”  In the tradition of the Lord’s Prayer, these people use their actions to say to God, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (65-66)

These children are motivated by social action in order to experience God.  They believe in the value of social justices and equality for all.  They want to see children around the world touched by the Gospel but touched in a manner that their whole lives (not just spiritual lives) are changed.

This is a recent addition to the Evangelical church.  There are Protestants and Catholics who have been engaged in this behavior for some time.  They tend to follow the mainline or liberal denominations due to their equal (or greater) emphasis on meeting physical needs prior to or simultaneously as spiritual needs.

Unfortunately this is rarely taught in children’s ministries.  Rarely are children given the opportunity to engage in social action as a way of experiencing God.  The closest thing to social action would be Christmas carols at a convalescent hospital.  Those whose spiritual bent is Action-Centered will want to see this go much further.  They will be engaged in activities that see the Kingdom of God brought and spread around.  They see themselves as the agents to work to bring that Kingdom.

One activity Csinos highlights is Operation Christmas Child.  I have been a part of churches who have participated with that in the past.  This is a wonderful way for one child here to impact the life of one child “there.”  Perhaps, building on that, children can be given the opportunity to serve the poor and disenfranchised of their surrounding community and city.

Parents may not be as comfortable with this form of spirituality because it can put their children in positions where they are “less safe” than the parents are used to.  This is a road that the parents and children must navigate together.  Parents must continue to keep their children within safe boundaries, but they also cannot hinder the spirit of the child which seeks to serve and minister to the lost.  This will not be easy, but it can have an amazing impact on the children.

This is the fourth (not in any particular order) spiritual style that Csinos writes about.  This is the one which will grow in prevalence as the missional church continues to gain ground.  Hopefully ten to twenty years from now more children’s Action-Centered spiritual lives will be embraced, and they will gain new opportunities to serve and give of themselves.  This will be a very healthy shift for all churches.  They will be able to see that God is at work around the world and in their communities, but he also is seeking to have his people help him along that journey.  Children with this spiritual style will be the first to line up and the last to leave.

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