Chapter 1 – Child Spirituality and Faith Development


High Level of Determination

Lack of Caution

Trust and Per-verbal world of relationships.


Image and feelings

Given to magical explanations of religious events rather than a narrative sequence.

God Image
A magical power.

A wishful, magical activity.

Religious Identity
Automatic, unquestioned.


School Age

The power to be ‘in’ a story.

Engrossed by narrative but can’t extract meaning; metaphores are opaque.

God Image
Anthropomorphic (Man with a beard).

Instrumental; bargaining to get things I’d like.

Religious Identity
Literal logic (I believe because my parents do).


Faith as an expression of ‘meaning’ and interpersonal identity.

Can use symbolic, metaphorical levels of meaning to make sense; deeper concepts are possible (salvation).

God Image
Can be abstract, multifaceted (love, creative).

Exploration of oneself before God; communicative.

Religious Identity
Outcome of making a personal choice.


Perspectives on Children's Spirituality

  • Here and now
  • Tuning
  • Flow
  • Felt sense
  • Awe
  • Wonder
  • Transcendence
  • Delight
  • Despair
  • Ultimate goodness

Spirituality permeates children's everyday lives.

Spirituality has an important function in children's wellbeing.

Spirituality is strongly non-verbal, even when children have good language skills.

Children's spirituality comes out of, and leads deeper into, forms of relational awareness.

Children often feel their spirituality needs to be private, secret or hidden.

Childhood spirituality may have an unpredictable relationship with faith.

Fowler's Stages of Faith

Primal or undifferentiated faith tends to characterise infants < 3 years.

Intiuitive-Projective faith is typical  of 3-6 year olds.

Mythic-literal faith emerges from 6-12 years. Stories (rather than images) can now help to hold together sequences of ideas, feelings, or values.

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