Book Review: Spiritual Conversations with Children

Spiritual Conversations with Children is a wonderful book for those who both hold a high view of children and who seek to have meaningful conversations with children that point to God’s presence in daily life. Lacy Finn Borgo begins with the premise that though well intentioned, churches’ spiritual formation efforts “ have fallen short of acknowledging the full humanity of children or God’s capacity to meet children where they are.” (page 11)

Much of the book consists of  dialog she has had in one on one listening sessions with children. By itself, this dialog inspires readers to consider how to listen and ask questions. The author artfully weaves theological reflection and practical advice into the dialog, making it an engaging manual for parents, church leaders, Sunday school teachers and others who desire to help children notice God’s movement in their lives.

Chapters 1 and 2 lay the scriptural and theological grounding, defining formation as relationship with triune God.

Chapters 3 and 4 outline how adults who desire to engage in spiritual conversations might position themselves to be effective listeners. 

Being a life-long advocate of play as the primary means of healthy social, physical, and spiritual development, chapter five is my favorite. Finn Borgo makes the connection  between play, creativity,  and prayer. She also gives examples of the ways children use play to find “resolution” to their experiences and emotions.

Chapter 6 is a chapter I greatly enjoyed for its emphasis on the importance of children becoming attuned to the Spirit in daily life, which the author names fundamental goodness and deep peace. As an adult who continues to learn how to talk about God’s presence in my own life, I found this discussion very relevant.  Having faith language is important: “Human beings have experiences with the Spirit throughout their whole lives. However, without naming and reflecting on those experiences, these experiences can get buried in the comings and goings of everyday existence.” (page 97)

Chapter 7 focuses on tangible tools for whole person prayer, including prayer beads and labyrinths.

Chapter 8 and the conclusion define how adults might be “listening friends,” and invite parents, grandparents, church leaders and others further into the mystery. The author concludes with a beautiful prayer for readers to have the awe inspiring opportunity to witness a child’s life with God.

This book is a lovely read. Among other things it has inspired me to think about how spiritual conversations might be a way to engage with children in a COVID-19 world where traditional Sunday school might be postponed for the foreseeable future.

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