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Spiritual Conversations with Children: Listening to God Together

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We are born into this world with a natural longing to connect to God and other human beings. When children have a listening companion who hears, acknowledges, and encourages their early experiences with God, it creates a spiritual footprint that shapes their lives. How can we increase our capacity to engage children in spiritual conversations? In this book Lacy Finn Borgo We are born into this world with a natural longing to connect to God and other human beings. When children have a listening companion who hears, acknowledges, and encourages their early experiences with God, it creates a spiritual footprint that shapes their lives. How can we increase our capacity to engage children in spiritual conversations? In this book Lacy Finn Borgo draws on her own experience of practicing spiritual direction with children. She offers an overview of childhood spiritual formation and introduces key skills for engaging conversation--posture, power, and patterns--from a Christ-centered perspective. "When we are fully present and open to another, we will be changed," Borgo writes. "Indeed, as you listen to God with a child, the child will lead you into a fuller experience of God's love and acceptance." In this book you'll find: Sample interactive dialogues with children Ideas for engaging children with play, art, and movement Prayers to use together Whether you are a parent or grandparent, pastor or spiritual director, you will find this to be a friendly guide into deeper ways of listening.


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We are born into this world with a natural longing to connect to God and other human beings. When children have a listening companion who hears, acknowledges, and encourages their early experiences with God, it creates a spiritual footprint that shapes their lives. How can we increase our capacity to engage children in spiritual conversations? In this book Lacy Finn Borgo We are born into this world with a natural longing to connect to God and other human beings. When children have a listening companion who hears, acknowledges, and encourages their early experiences with God, it creates a spiritual footprint that shapes their lives. How can we increase our capacity to engage children in spiritual conversations? In this book Lacy Finn Borgo draws on her own experience of practicing spiritual direction with children. She offers an overview of childhood spiritual formation and introduces key skills for engaging conversation--posture, power, and patterns--from a Christ-centered perspective. "When we are fully present and open to another, we will be changed," Borgo writes. "Indeed, as you listen to God with a child, the child will lead you into a fuller experience of God's love and acceptance." In this book you'll find: Sample interactive dialogues with children Ideas for engaging children with play, art, and movement Prayers to use together Whether you are a parent or grandparent, pastor or spiritual director, you will find this to be a friendly guide into deeper ways of listening.

30 review for Spiritual Conversations with Children: Listening to God Together

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lori Neff

    Such a beautiful guide for any adult. We must attend to our own spiritual & emotional health so that we can help children in their spiritual formation. This book is practical, insightful, and enjoyable.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Summary: A practical, story filled guide on how to have spiritual conversations with children. I am approaching this with a definite perspective. I am in training to become a spiritual director (for adults), but I also have spent much of my life doing administrative and evaluative work for ministries for children. I am also am the stay-at-home/work-at-home parent, and my wife is an elementary teacher. I spend a lot of time thinking about children and how to serve them well. I am reading this direc Summary: A practical, story filled guide on how to have spiritual conversations with children. I am approaching this with a definite perspective. I am in training to become a spiritual director (for adults), but I also have spent much of my life doing administrative and evaluative work for ministries for children. I am also am the stay-at-home/work-at-home parent, and my wife is an elementary teacher. I spend a lot of time thinking about children and how to serve them well. I am reading this directly because I want to be a spiritual director. Still, parents, teachers, pastor, and many others that are interested in the spiritual life of children would also benefit. There are good theoretical discussions about children and spiritual matters that are approachable for almost everyone. And lots of practical examples. Lacy Finn Borgo in Spiritual Conversations With Children is not adapting adult spiritual direction for children, but starting with children's needs and their own developmentally appropriate modes of communication and building a practice of spiritual direction that is oriented around them. It is very much focused on a listening mode of spiritual direction. (She says at one point, children already have parents and other authority figures, the adult spiritual listener is there to listen to the children not correct them, or teach them.) She illustrated several methods of helping children to talk about spiritual matters, developing trust over time, and creating helpful rituals of blessing and specialness to the conversations that allow the children (and adults) to know their purpose. Because what works with one child will not work with another,  or even the same child on a different day, having a literal bag of options for children to make choices about what is helpful for them on that day makes a lot of sense. These include several prayer methods, sometimes toys or blocks, or art, or stories, or food that can help create openness to seeking after God. One of the real strengths of the book is that there is a significant amount of recounting of actual conversations. Spiritual direction, I believe, is both Holy Spirit led and an art that is developed over time, more than a structured science. Practical, real examples of what she means by spiritual conversations with children make this far more helpful than many books on spiritual direction I have read. One of the differences between adults and children is that children tend to be much more aware of and engaged in their embodied lives. For spiritual conversation, that means that the discussion will be more body-focused than many adult spiritual direction activities. Kids will often talk as they are doing something. Having physical prompts, like a kid-sized labyrinth (or a finger labyrinth) or sand to draw in and wipe away are activities that would probably benefit many adults, but are essential for kids. If I have a complaint, it is that at times there can be a bit too much focus on what benefit can come to the adult in these spiritual conversations with children. Lacy Finn Borgo is careful to note fairly frequently that while there are benefits to the adult, that the point isn't for adult spiritual development. However, I can see many readers taking in the parts about spiritual benefits for adults while ignoring the cautions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    What a lovely book that gives deep value to the ways in which children experience God, and helpful encouragement to the adults who desire to accompany children in these experiences. Lacy's examples of her own work in "Holy Listening" with children help the reader to imagine ways they may engage with the children in their lives. It is obvious that Lacy's own spiritual life has been shaped by her work with children, and as such this book is a reminder to us adults that children are wise and curiou What a lovely book that gives deep value to the ways in which children experience God, and helpful encouragement to the adults who desire to accompany children in these experiences. Lacy's examples of her own work in "Holy Listening" with children help the reader to imagine ways they may engage with the children in their lives. It is obvious that Lacy's own spiritual life has been shaped by her work with children, and as such this book is a reminder to us adults that children are wise and curious and playful - and that we can find God together in all those spaces. If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, counselor, pastor, or anyone who cares about the spiritual lives of children, this book is for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Janelle Hooper

    So so so so so so good!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Rand

    There are things children know that we adults do not. They are in touch with an eternal reality that is beyond our every day knowledge. We have a photo of my son that was taken when he was two years old. He is standing on the beach, gazing up at the sky with outstretched arms, his face shining with joy. In this moment, my child is connecting with the eternal divine mystery from which he had so recently come, perhaps reaching out to the One who sent him to us in an outpouring of generous love. I There are things children know that we adults do not. They are in touch with an eternal reality that is beyond our every day knowledge. We have a photo of my son that was taken when he was two years old. He is standing on the beach, gazing up at the sky with outstretched arms, his face shining with joy. In this moment, my child is connecting with the eternal divine mystery from which he had so recently come, perhaps reaching out to the One who sent him to us in an outpouring of generous love. I know a four year old who goes to sleep every night gazing at a photo of the Aurora Borealis, delighting in God’s painting in the sky. He said to his mother, “It’s too hard to say ‘Awohwa Boweealice’. I’m just going to say ‘the Northern Lights.’ When I taught music classes with toddlers, I blessed each child at the end of class, going around the circle, putting my hand on their head, looking in their eyes, and singing, “God loves you.” Before long, I wasn’t the only one doing the blessing. The children came with me, and took turns gathering around one another, putting their small hands on top of mine, blessing their friends. And then I sat in the middle of the circle, and these holy hands blessed me, singing me, “God loves you.” There are things children know that we adults do not. As a parent and a future grandparent, I long to help the children in my family connect with the heart of God. As a pastor, I wonder how to help the young ones in my congregation discover their own lives in God's family. As a campus minister, I wonder how to reach out to young people in rising generations who have been spiritually wounded and help them find healing. Spiritual Conversations with Children speaks to all of these longings. Lacy Finn Borgo honors the mysterious power and presence of children. She has been attending to the spiritual lives of children for over thirty years. Since 2014, she has been a spiritual companion for children living at Haven House, a transitional facility for homeless families. She practices with them what she calls “holy listening”, in honor of Margaret Guenther’s book on spiritual direction. We were created out of the divine community of love, what Borgo calls “Love’s Family”, with a longing to connect with the Triune God. God longs for us as well, and sings us into relationship, like the mother goat in Borgo’s barn welcomed her baby into the world by singing. Borgo teaches us how to practice holy listening with children, or how to have spiritual conversations with children that create the space for them to connect with God and to respond to God’s presence with them. Through holy listening conversations, children tell stories about their daily lives and come to know the God who is revealed to them through beauty, truth, goodness, awe, wonder, and mystery. God also comes to them in creation, through their tears, and through Celtic “thin spaces”, or the threshold between heaven and earth where things sync in unexpected ways. Jesus becomes their friend and guide, the one who lives their daily lives with them and shows them ways they can connect with the divine family through spiritual practices likes prayer, solitude and silence, and play. Borgo guides us through the components of holy listening with children, teaching adult companions how to adopt the relational posture of a listener, how to ask divinely curious questions and to listen, how to see what is too deep to be spoken aloud, how to play with children, and how to sense the movement of the Spirit at all times. Children need to engage their whole selves in these conversations, their bodies, minds, hearts, and wills - which requires their adult listeners to connect with those parts of themselves that may be shut down. Most of all, children do not need adults to correct them or to control them, but to simply invite and encourage children to connect with the God who loves them and who delights in sharing life with them. In Spiritual Conversations with Children Borgo provides examples of spiritual conversations with children to illustrate these components of holy listening. She also shows us how to create prayer beads and finger labyrinths, provides guides for prayer, and offers “soaking it in” reflection questions at the end of each chapter, allowing the reader to reflect more deeply on his or her journey into the heart of Love’s Family. This book is a great gift for adults who honor children as spiritual beings and who simply want to walk with them on their spiritual journeys into the heart of Love’s Family.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    "When we accompany children in their life with God, helping them to recognize and respond, we are two friends on an expedition of exciting discovery into the heart of Christ." Lacy Finn Borgo's Spiritual Conversations with Children masterfully invites us into a child's spiritual formation journey that we call life. As parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, and friends of children, we have an invitation to be a listening presence in their lives. With an educational background in teaching and fo "When we accompany children in their life with God, helping them to recognize and respond, we are two friends on an expedition of exciting discovery into the heart of Christ." Lacy Finn Borgo's Spiritual Conversations with Children masterfully invites us into a child's spiritual formation journey that we call life. As parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors, and friends of children, we have an invitation to be a listening presence in their lives. With an educational background in teaching and formation, Borgo shares her wealth of knowledge garnered from her years of experience of sitting with children in spiritual direction—"holy listening"—in a transitional housing facility for homeless families. Holy listening is an invitation to an awareness of "the movement of the Spirit" in the lives of children. A personal favorite from her book is how as children share, we come alongside them with wonderings, helping them through 'I wonder...' questions to recognize the Divine and inviting them to respond to the "Community of Love", that is the Trinity. Borgo's arrangement of words entwined with holy listening examples portray her lived knowledge and passion for children and their longings, wonder, and the mystery within their relationship with their Creator. Truly brilliant and beautiful and will not be a book I shelve but one that will remain easily accessible for my reference as I engage in spiritual conversations with the children in my life. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, Lacy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Barrett

    Borgo applies all the best insights of spiritual formation/spiritual direction to, as the title suggests, spiritual conversations with children with biblical and theological precision. I was compelled by her conclusions and moved by her stories. I can't pick a "best part," but her insight(s) that stimulated the most conversation between my wife (who teaches 4th grade) and I was her chapter on "Whole Person Prayer." At one level, I was fascinated with her suggestions for and stories of getting ch Borgo applies all the best insights of spiritual formation/spiritual direction to, as the title suggests, spiritual conversations with children with biblical and theological precision. I was compelled by her conclusions and moved by her stories. I can't pick a "best part," but her insight(s) that stimulated the most conversation between my wife (who teaches 4th grade) and I was her chapter on "Whole Person Prayer." At one level, I was fascinated with her suggestions for and stories of getting children praying with their whole selves. At another level, however, I was grieved at the ways churches and education systems alike ignore this reality that folks such as Borgo (and James K. A. Smith) are begging us at the top of their lungs to acknowledge. How often churches and school expect children to just sit still, receive information, regurgitate information in some standardized form, and *poof* be formed accordingly. The irony is that they will indeed be formed, but perhaps not into what we hoped. Take this book. Read this book. Pay close attention to Borgo's stories/method(s). Then go and do likewise.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christine V. Hides

    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 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. 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kimberley Mulder

    Lacy offers a desperately-needed counterpoint to the habitual indoctrinating ministry that most children’s ministries are in many churches. I encourage anyone who works with children to read her book and begin listening these precious souls into life. Lacy has authentically cultivated a space and offered guidance for adults who wish to accompany children in their discoveries and experiences of God in their lives. She gives many practical ideas and wisdom as to attitude and intent in offering suc Lacy offers a desperately-needed counterpoint to the habitual indoctrinating ministry that most children’s ministries are in many churches. I encourage anyone who works with children to read her book and begin listening these precious souls into life. Lacy has authentically cultivated a space and offered guidance for adults who wish to accompany children in their discoveries and experiences of God in their lives. She gives many practical ideas and wisdom as to attitude and intent in offering such listening to children. A clear message in it is the need to know one’s power and to surrender it, giving children the honor of noticing, naming and experiencing God for themselves. The embodied activities, the accounts she shares and the reflection activities to shape you, the adult listener, are always helpful.

  10. 5 out of 5

    D.j. Lang

    Definitely five stars. I wanted this book the minute it came out. My hope is to buy this book and give it to new parents, not-so-new parents, and maybe even friends who are not in the midst of child-rearing, but need a book which helps heal some childhood challenges. I found the book as life-giving for myself as for listening to children, grandchildren, family or otherwise. This book also is highly readable (compared to other spiritual formation books for children). I am not a spiritual director Definitely five stars. I wanted this book the minute it came out. My hope is to buy this book and give it to new parents, not-so-new parents, and maybe even friends who are not in the midst of child-rearing, but need a book which helps heal some childhood challenges. I found the book as life-giving for myself as for listening to children, grandchildren, family or otherwise. This book also is highly readable (compared to other spiritual formation books for children). I am not a spiritual director. I am a mom and grandmother. I actually intended to read the book slowly and carefully and take notes, but I found myself wanting to read the whole book right away. However, this book is definitely a resource book which I can take off the shelf and read again and again.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura Kisthardt

    This book was recommended to me through a ministry Facebook group. Wow I am so glad I ordered it on a whim. Lacy Finn Borgo has written a terrific introduction to holy listening, spiritual companioning for children. I really enjoyed reading her case studies or examples from personal experience. She does a great job weaving biblical storytelling into analysis and explanation. Highly recommend this book for church leaders who work with children or parents/grandparents interested in raising faithfu This book was recommended to me through a ministry Facebook group. Wow I am so glad I ordered it on a whim. Lacy Finn Borgo has written a terrific introduction to holy listening, spiritual companioning for children. I really enjoyed reading her case studies or examples from personal experience. She does a great job weaving biblical storytelling into analysis and explanation. Highly recommend this book for church leaders who work with children or parents/grandparents interested in raising faithful kids.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Thompson

    Listening to children’s experience with God This is a book that I will ponder. Many of the case studies she discussed are with children who have known some degree of harm. I don’t have the level of knowledge and understanding she has. I just wanted to learn about how to listen well and look for opportunities to encourage.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    This is an insightful book, basically it's a guide to offering spiritual direction for children. Every child would benefit, but I thought especially of the children who are most in need. What would it look like to be present to children in the detention camps? Children in foster care? In shelters? I recommend it for parents and teachers. This is an insightful book, basically it's a guide to offering spiritual direction for children. Every child would benefit, but I thought especially of the children who are most in need. What would it look like to be present to children in the detention camps? Children in foster care? In shelters? I recommend it for parents and teachers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Pryor

    “When we create a space where a child can talk about their experience of God, we help to lay down a neurological footprint in the brain that helps the child to identify and therefore experience the Spirit in the future” (p97). This statement alone is enough to make me long to create this kind of space for the children in my life, most especially my grandchildren.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I love Lacy's listening approach to children. I recommend this book for parents, children's ministry leaders and volunteers, spiritual directors, and counselors. It is such a respectful way to bringing awareness to God's presence and voice within our children's lives. I love Lacy's listening approach to children. I recommend this book for parents, children's ministry leaders and volunteers, spiritual directors, and counselors. It is such a respectful way to bringing awareness to God's presence and voice within our children's lives.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Wonderful book! Especially for those who are already familiar with concepts like spiritual formation and spiritual direction. Offers Scripture, thoughts, and concrete examples of what this could look like in the life of a child.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allison P

    A beautiful, inspiring read!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Lonadier

    Thought-provoking and challenging for anyone who loves kids and Jesus. Stretched me about how to introduce and lead kids into their own experience with God.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tadd Kruithoff

    A must read for parents, children's ministry leaders, and pastors. A must read for parents, children's ministry leaders, and pastors.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Bryson

    It has some great ideas and things to think about with regard to children's spiritual development as well as growth as an adult. It has some great ideas and things to think about with regard to children's spiritual development as well as growth as an adult.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Heatherjoy

    3.5

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becky Lai

    I originally bought this book to help me raise my kids with a more contemplative faith than I grew up with but ended up being really impacted by the ideas and suggestions in this book for my own current faith and the way I am listening and watching for God. It also helped me identify a few things I might need some healing around. It is also challenging me to be a better friend and fellow spiritual community members! A great mix of anecdotal, inspirational and practical. I plan on trying something I originally bought this book to help me raise my kids with a more contemplative faith than I grew up with but ended up being really impacted by the ideas and suggestions in this book for my own current faith and the way I am listening and watching for God. It also helped me identify a few things I might need some healing around. It is also challenging me to be a better friend and fellow spiritual community members! A great mix of anecdotal, inspirational and practical. I plan on trying something like the “listening stones” with the kids and I like the BOW acronym self reminder, for when your kid is making a bid for connection. B: Is my body reflecting welcome and the desire to connect? O: Am I open to vulnerability and the possibility of change? W: Can I wonder with this child about the deepest thing that is stirring in them? Not sure how I feel about a “holy listening ministry” for kids but I think it could be a great therapeutic model and there are def elements that could be great for families and faith communities to adopt.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 5 out of 5

    Javier Contesse

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sara Wu

  27. 4 out of 5

    Darrel Voth

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gordon

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Becker

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