Contemporary cultures may idealise, sentimentalise, dramatise, catastrophise and marginalise children, but in what ways do we spiritualise children? How do we speak of children’s spirituality, and how may we form and inhabit communities that enable the spiritual lives of children to thrive and contribute? This unit calls and resources participants to explore historical, trans-cultural and contemporary issues in the spiritual life and the spiritual development of children, cognizant of this complex ethical and economic global landscape. It examines links between Scripture, theological thought, spiritual and psychological development, and ministry with children. The unit seeks to develop greater awareness and sensitivity to the spiritual lives of children in theological reflection, informing ministry practices of protection and respect in pastoral care and faith formation, and attend to the often neglected childhood spiritual experiences of the adult practitioner theologian which underlie pastoral and ministry responses to children.

Unit code: DP3030Z

Unit status: Approved (New unit)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Pastoral Theology and Ministry Studies

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College and Stirling College

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Learning outcomes


Describe and analyse diverse theologies and age-sensitive theories of faith formation, within and beyond Australian western Christian traditions.


Reflect theologically on childhood spiritual experiences, and evaluate aspects of ministry which aim to value, respect and protect children through pastoral care and faith formation support.


Discern the significance of Nye’s framework of spirituality (love for the self, the other, the environment and the Divine) in cultural and age-sensitive pastoral practice.


Recognise, reflect on and demonstrate an ability to integrate spiritual experiences from childhood to the present.


Critique, in reflection and practice, diverse theologies and age-sensitive theories of faith formation.

Unit sequence

18 points in Field D


Lecture, discussion, peer reviewed presentations, discussing readings, experiential workshops

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bunge, Marcia J., ed. Child Theology: Diverse Methods and Global Perspectives. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2021.
  • Allen, Holly Catterton, ed. Intergenerate : Transforming Churches through Intergenerational Ministry. Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2018.
  • Berryman, Jerome. The Spiritual Guidance of Children. New York: Moorehouse, 2013.
  • Browning, Don S. Equality and the Family : A Fundamental, Practical Theology of Children, Mothers, and Fathers in Modern Societies. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.
  • Duane, Anna Mae. The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities. Athens and London: University of Georgia Press. 2013
  • Hyde, Brendan. Children and Spirituality. London: John Knox Press, 2008.
  • Lawson, Kevin E., ed. Understanding Children’s Spirituality : Theology, Research, and Practice. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2012
  • Mountain, Vivienne. Children and the Church. Melbourne: Christian Research Association, 2014.
  • Newey, Edmund. Children Of God : The Child As Source Of Theological Anthropology. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013.
  • Nye, Rebecca. Children's Spirituality: What is it and why it matters. London: Church House, 2009.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Seminar or Tutorial

Tutorial report and presentation

1250 25.0

Integrative exegesis

1250 25.0


2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 9 Sep, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-10-31 12:47:11 +1100