See that you do not despise one of these little ones: How can churches communicate to children the value they have in the Kingdom of God?

This dissertation is concerned with children’s value in the Kingdom of God, and how that can be communicated to them by the church. Based upon the belief that children are unconditionally valuable to God, it is vital for the church, as Christ’s body, to demonstrate God’s love for them. Communicating this effectively could transform children’s lives, and the church community.

Aim of the study

The aim of this study is to discern how churches can communicate to children their value in the Kingdom of God.

I have previously conducted a small-scale pilot study which indicated that while most churches understand children’s theological value, they often lack the knowledge and understanding of how to practically communicate it. This study therefore, aims to aid those churches who desire to value children, but need practical guidance and ideas.

There appears to be a recent rise in the number of theologians recognising the role of children, such as Bunge, who advocates the importance of a theology of the child (2008:xv). In correlation to this, I believe there is a call for a practical assessment of how the church can live this out.

Willmer and White’s Entry Point initially highlighted the importance of this particular verse in Matthew 18v10, which has shaped their child theology, and in turn influenced my own viewpoint (2013:11-17). I believe that this verse is essential to demonstrating to the church the theological backing behind the move to communicate to children their value- and to see what value they have in the Kingdom of God. This study aims to suggest how Matthew 18v1-14 can be lived out in church.

While there is existing material to assist in working with and valuing children in church, such as Messy Church (Bayes, 2013:96-100), Godly Play (Berryman,2002:18), and other various studies by practitioners such as Mark Griffiths (2017:17), this study is primarily focused on valuing children within the church context. I will seek to listen to children themselves, alongside a wide range of children’s practitioners and experts in the field. In this way, I will have a wide breadth of valid and insightful data to assess how the church can integrate this theology throughout its services and community.

Melody Pearson

Melody studied with MCYM for 3 years achieving a first class BA (Hons) in Children and Family Work and Practical Theology