6 y.o. wants to learn more about Jesus & God - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 01-22-2011, 10:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi!  I'm hoping you guys can help me find some good material to work with here.  

 

My ds has expressed a desire to learn about God and Jesus (and has made the proclamation that Jesus *is* God).  We've always modeled our own spirituality, while allowing our children to define their own relationship with God as they see fit - or if they want to have one.  I come from a Catholic background, but as an adult, I haven't been to church in over a decade, and I have an earth-based/Buddhist/loose-Christian approach to spirituality.  By loose Christian, I mean I haven't found a community that fits me yet; I really don't like the dogma I run into in a lot of places, and I don't believe that Jesus is/was God any more than you and I are (which isn't to say he and we aren't).  This doesn't fly real well in a lot of the churches and Christian communities I've visited.

 

Regardless, this is what my son is interested in, and I want to support him.  I am planning on taking him and his sister, who is also now interested, to several local churches over the next few months, and following their lead.  We're starting with a non-traditional "modern" Christian non-denominational church this week, a UU church next week, and a Peace Mennonite church is on the list as well.  But I want to take responsibility for what they're learning.  We talk a lot and ask a lot of questions in our family, and spirituality is a prime space for those conversations to happen.  I don't want to leave it up to just the churches to answer those questions - I feel like that's asking for trouble.

 

But I'm a little stuck ... I have resources on lots of different belief systems, but not so much on Christianity - perhaps because I grew up in a Christian environment and assumed I didn't really need anything for the kids, because I had it all already, lol.  I want to know if there are any really, really good materials out there (web-based or otherwise) for teaching children about Christianity and/or Jesus, without all the dogma and the "sinners go to hell" stuff.  

 

Actually, if anyone has any books along those lines of *any* belief system that they really want to plug, I'm always adding to my collection, so share those, too!

 

TIA for your tips and suggestions!

Abby


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#2 of 13 Old 01-23-2011, 07:57 AM
 
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Why not read the Bible? Could you read a Gospel together? Say you where studing a myth, right would not go and read the myth?

 

And may I add....go to a lot of churches may not be the best idea. I would find one that has a good sunday school or childrens church and go for a few weeks. I know that going to different churchs can be hard on a child.(solical speaking)

 

Hope that helps

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#3 of 13 Old 01-24-2011, 10:23 AM
 
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I've heard good things about this book http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Brian-Wildsmith/dp/0802852122

 

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#4 of 13 Old 01-24-2011, 03:03 PM
 
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Have you thought about getting a book with pictures of Icons (Pictures that spell out biblical stories and lives and saints. )? Even if you don't read them as intended since they are pictures you  could let him explore them and tell you what he thinks they mean and then correct as much or as little as you would like.  You can also google just about any even in the gospels, any saint and many old testement stories and find icons you can print off.  www.comeandseeicons.com has a lot of nice ones.


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#5 of 13 Old 01-24-2011, 04:09 PM
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Traditional Byzantine icons are an easy, open-ended way to open up discussion about Jesus or saints...and they really appeal to children.  You can also talk about the historical significance of individual works of art.  My kids especially like to see traditional icons of Mary holding the infant Jesus, because that is something that they can directly relate to their personal experience.  You can google "theotokos glykophilousa" (Mother of God sweetly kissing) for an image that will help your child understand on a human level.


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#6 of 13 Old 03-07-2011, 10:39 AM
 
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Have you attended any churches since you posted? How did your son react? My son, who is 7, is also very interested in learning more about Christianity. As an atheist/ learning Buddhist, I would have a hard time leading my impressionable children into a place of worship but I really admire your willingness to do so.  So I am wondering if you followed your plan and how it worked out.


Novel writing student Mama to ds (8y) and new DD 1-13-10.

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#7 of 13 Old 03-23-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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I would suggest trying an Eastern Orthodox Church. I am not Orthodox, but it seems to be what you're looking for for a few reasons:

1. Orthodoxy has a bit less of a stringent doctrine on Hell than some other denominations.

2. The icons, altar, incense and all the sights, smells and sounds of Orthodox worship stimulate the senses in a way that I think children would learn a lot from and really enjoy.

3. The Eastern Orthodox Churches I have attended all have a close-knit but not clicky congregation.  It would be a great support system for your son in his new faith if you are truly looking to support and encourage him in his beliefs.

 

I would also suggest that you find a church and stick to it for a while, so that he can develop some friends and relationships.  The most supportive thing you could do for him would be to take him to a church regularly and possibly look into classes he can take in order to be baptized.  Baptism not only is good for his spiritual life, but also it would make him a member of that congregation and it would be socially beneficial for him if he continues to be interested in going to church.

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#8 of 13 Old 03-23-2011, 07:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalasmueller View Post

I would suggest trying an Eastern Orthodox Church. I am not Orthodox, but it seems to be what you're looking for for a few reasons:

1. Orthodoxy has a bit less of a stringent doctrine on Hell than some other denominations.

2. The icons, altar, incense and all the sights, smells and sounds of Orthodox worship stimulate the senses in a way that I think children would learn a lot from and really enjoy.

3. The Eastern Orthodox Churches I have attended all have a close-knit but not clicky congregation.  It would be a great support system for your son in his new faith if you are truly looking to support and encourage him in his beliefs.

 

I would also suggest that you find a church and stick to it for a while, so that he can develop some friends and relationships.  The most supportive thing you could do for him would be to take him to a church regularly and possibly look into classes he can take in order to be baptized.  Baptism not only is good for his spiritual life, but also it would make him a member of that congregation and it would be socially beneficial for him if he continues to be interested in going to church.


Being Orthodox myself, there is one thing I would like to point out - there are parishes where services are at least partially in another language. For parishes of the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Archdiocese, services are almost always in English, unless there are local immigrants who need services at least partially in another language. With parishes of the Greek Archdiocese, it really depends on the parish.

 

Your best bet is to check the website of the parish that you'd like to attend and if services in English aren't mentioned, just call or email the parish. Having services all in English is the ideal, especially since your son is showing an interest and new to this, but if all you have is one Orthodox parish nearby and services are only half in English, go anyway. There should be a service book in the pew that's bilingual.

 

Note: for a child to be Orthodox without either parent being Orthodox as well, might be something quite difficult. It's something you would have to discuss with the priest. There is a whole rhythm of Orthodox life that affects the home (fasting - although this is not as strict for young children, preparing to receive Communion, Lent, Easter, Advent, etc.).

 

That's not to say it couldn't be done, but our faith isn't just church on Sunday, there's a whole 'nother side of it. But our services are very "multi-media" so it's well worth a try, anyway.

 

 


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#9 of 13 Old 03-24-2011, 03:33 PM
 
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The fact that a portion of our service is in another language has never been a deterrent to my children.  In fact they quite enjoy it and it gives them a sense of this being  a global thing (our services actually employ three languages on a regular basis, but still mostly English)   and not an Americanized version of Christianity.  

 

Another thing you might like about an Orthodox service is that it can be a very culturally diverse crowd.  We have first generation immigrants from over 10 countries.  

 

Regardless of what you choose though if you do decide to visit an Orthodox parish it will help your son get more out of it if you meet with the priest first (as a general rule priest really like doing this, don't feel like you are being a bother), get a tour of the church, look at and touch some icons, ask questions, check out the censor and vestments, ask about the languages used and what will be happening in the service you attend.  If you do decide to attend an actual service I recommend something low key like vespers (prayer service) which will be shorter, more relaxed, and not involve any sacraments your son would be excluded from or you can swing to the other end of the spectrum and hit Holy Friday or Pascha (Evening services, check for the time) They are huge and grand and spectacular and will have tons of moving and active worship to participate in.  Also, since it is liturgy I can assure you with certainty there are no bloody violent reinactments.   You can  find both services on YouTube most likely.

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The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#10 of 13 Old 03-29-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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My daughter attended shul with us as a child where services were partially in Hebrew and it was never an issue. Being exposed to multiple languages is a good thing for kids and adults.

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#11 of 13 Old 05-07-2011, 02:19 PM
 
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Personally if my kids were asking to know about God as Jesus, and how people understand that, I wouldn't start in an orthodox church, just because there is so much more that they would have to learn, and it would take the focus away from their main interest.  The churches listed in the OP is about where I started when looking for a church, and the focus is more on God, Jesus and the way we are to apply His Word to our lives, and less on tradition. I ended up finding a non-denominational church where we used to live that we really loved. They focus on the goodness of God, His mercy, grace, love, forgiveness and the power available to us to overcome the sin in our lives/the world. Very little focus on judgement and hell. Not that they didn't believe in it but it was a concious choice to focus on the goodness of God and how it keep us from evil, rather than evil and fire and judgement and hell. 

 

OP- did you end up bringing your kids to a church? What did they think?

 

This is what my kids have........http://www.amazon.com/Beginners-Bible-Timeless-Childrens-Stories/dp/0310709628/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1304802858&sr=8-7 

Even for a 6 year old this might be a good place to start. The stories are really basic and give a good idea of what the Bible teaches. I would read through it first though, and really give some thought to it because your kids will probably have a lot of questions about some of the stories.

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#12 of 13 Old 05-07-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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#13 of 13 Old 07-20-2012, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, dear, I completely forgot that I posted this, so long ago!  I was just cleaning up my subscriptions and stumbled across it.  For those who asked (if you're still around), we did end up going to the non-denominational church, which actually gave me the heebie-jeebies.  Maybe it was because the two people I knew there were so pushy about it, but I was really turned off, and I didn't like that the kids were separated from the parents for the ENTIRE service, and were discouraged from sitting in the main room at all.  Though there was a nice little "family room" with a large window....  After that, we went to the Catholic church that I grew up in, and unfortunately, the Mass that was traditionally the more peppy, family-oriented one had traded places with the Mass that was traditionally the dull, sleepy-making one.  Guess which one the kids got to see?  They were totally turned off of ALL churches for a while after that, though, after a few months, Danny did start asking about going back to the first church again.  We never did, and we moved to another state, where we don't know anybody, but I'm considering taking them to the UU church an hour away some Wednesday evening.

While we were not in churches or other places of worship much, we did capitalize on the subject as much as possible.  Every opportunity for spiritual exploration was taken, and he enjoyed going to friends' houses and praying with them.  He initiated the idea of saying some sort of Grace or Expression of Thanks before dinner.  And he seems to be pretty confident in his own individual beliefs, which differ from mine in some crucial ways (good!), but converge with mine in all the "important" ways. :)  And of course, now that he's 7, he's still exploring.  And his reading skills are advanced, and I'm often pleasantly shocked at the books and magazines he chooses to pick up, exposing himself to whole worlds of perspectives that I couldn't even begin to offer him alone! 


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