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The Nurture and Spiritual Guidance of Children (Online)

This unit explores the historical and current interest in the spiritual life and the spiritual development of children.  It examines links between Scripture, theological thought, spiritual and psychological development, neurobiology and ministry with children. The unit seeks to develop more informed ministries of protection and respect in pastoral care and religious education.

Lecturer: Andrew Menzies with Beth Barnett
Offered: Online: Refer to Timetable
Also offered face-to-face DS2/3/9019S

Undergraduate: Level 3
Postgraduate: Level 9 Elective

Discipline: DS Theology: Mission and Ministry 

1 unit in Field D

Learning Outcomes: 

Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate awareness and an informed critique of a range of views relating to the development of spirituality in children. 
  2. Identify aspects of church life, ministry and pastoral care where the experiences of children can be recognised and valued. 
  3. Recognise, articulate and integrate within a practice framework the pastoral significance of love for the self, the other, the environment and the Divine as part of spirituality in the life of the child. 
  4. Reflect on and demonstrate an ability to integrate spiritual experiences in life from childhood to the present. 
  5. Demonstrate a capacity to critique and integrate, in reflection and practice, sound educational theory and theories of faith development. 


Undergraduate Level 2
Tutorial Report and Oral Presentation (1,000 words) 25%
Essay (2,500 words) 50%
Response to Scripture (1,000 words) 25%

Undergraduate Level 3
Tutorial Report and Oral Presentation (1,500 words) 25%
Essay (2,500 words) 50%
Response to Scripture (1,000 words) 25%


Tutorial Report and Oral Presentation (2,000 words) 25%
Essay (3,500 words) 50%
Response to Scripture (2,000 words) 25%

Select Bibliography:

*Recommended reading

Click here for reading pack 1

Click here for reading pack 2

Berryman, Jerome. The complete guide to Godly Play. Colorado: Moorehouse, 2002.
Berryman, Jerome. Children and the Theologians. New York: Moorehouse, 2009.
Berryman, Jerome. The spiritual guidance of children. New York: Moorehouse, 2013.
Bunge, Marcia. The child in Christian thought. Grand Rapids: Eardsman, 2001.
Coles, Robert. The spiritual life of children. London: Harper Collins, 1990.
Doidge, Norman.  The brain that changes itself. USA: Scribe, 2007.
Greenspan, Stanley.The secure child. USA: De Capo Press, 2002.
Hay, David. and Rebecca Nye.The Spirit of the Child. Great Britain: Harper Collins, 1998.
Hyde, Bredan. Children and spirituality. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008.
Jensen, David. Graced Vulnerability Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2005.
Joiner, Reggie. Think Orange.USA: David Cook, 2009.
Moore, Lucy. Messy Church 2. Abingdon: Bible Reading Fellowship, 2008.
Mountain, Vivienne. “Four links between Child, Theology and Children’s Spirituality.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 16:3 (2011): 261-271.
Mountain, Vivienne.  “Educational contexts for developing children’s spirituality.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 12:2 (2007): 191-207.
Mountain, Vivienne.  “Prayer is a positive activity for children.” International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 10:3 (2005): 291-305.
Mountain, Vivienne.  Children and the church. Melbourne: CRA, 2014.
Music, Graham. Nurturing Natures: Attachment and Children’s Emotional, Sociocultural and Brain Development. UK: Psychology Press, 2011.
Nye, Rebecca. Children’s Spirituality-what is it and why it matters.UK: Church House, 2009.
Paver, John. Theological Reflection Aldershot VT: Ashgate, 2006.
Perry, Bruce, and Maia & Szalavitz. The boy who was raised as a dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist’s Notebook–What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing. USA: Perseus, 2006.
Rahner, Karl. “Ideas for a theology of childhood.” In Theological investigations, Volume 8 Further theology of the spiritual life,  London: Darton Longman & Todd, 1971.
White, Keith, and Haddon Willmer. An introduction to Child Theology. London: Child Theology Movement, 2008.