'n Ondersoek na die bediening van laerskoolkinders in en deur die gemeente as intergenerasionele ruimte
Thesis (DTh (Practical Theology and Missiology))--Stellenbosch University, 2008.
The focus of the research is the problem that congregations experience in ministry when they are trying to integrate children and adults in inclusive intergenerational spaces in such a way that it will enable children and adults to serve God together and grow together spiritually. The research may be described as a quest for a theology and a church that truly invite and welcome children into their midst, and care for the children’s total humanness. As an exploratory study the research aims to contribute to the development of knowledge in respect of the theological foundation of a ministry in which adults accept the challenge of growing spiritually together with their children. The research was embarked upon from the perspective of Child Theology and a practical-theological ecclesiology. As a theology-from-below, Child Theology is a contextual theology and as such an inductive methodology was followed in the research. The first phase of the research examined the social and ecclesiastical context in which children grow up during the beginning of the 21st century. The social analysis revealed that children grow up in a global network society, characterized by fragmentation in different generations and developmental groups, an excessive emphasis on individualistic self-fulfilment, the disintegration of family life, the social exclusion and marginalization of children, and the search for identity. The ecclesiastical analysis has revealed that, from various quarters, a demand has arisen for greater theological contemplation about, and a new approach to, children’s ministry. The second phase of the research examined the diverse Biblical testimony concerning children, God, and the faith communities’ involvement with children. A number of Biblical theological perspectives in respect of children and the ministry to them have come to the fore, and were formulated. Beside all the other perspectives that have come to the fore, it became clear that, for the 21st century, the church and theology should reinterpret especially the radicalism of the testimony about Jesus’ interaction with children in the Gospel of Matthew. In the final phase, the hermeneutical process was continued in a sensitive correlative dialogue between the Word and the world in order to find basic-theoretical pointers for a discourse regarding the design of a practice theory for a ministry that can integrate children and adults in congregational life. These pointers are expressed as six lenses, while the parameters for a practice theory are shown. Enacting this practice theory demands more than a few superficial adaptations in the ministry of congregations. It demands, under the guidance of the Word and Spirit, that congregations rediscover their kenosis identity as God’s communities in which all have been transformed and have become like little children. God’s missional and community-founding identity will be reflected by the identification of values that can guide them in the realization of this kenosis identity in their ministry to, with, by and for children. Thus, this research generates the following condensed hypothesis: The ministry with children in and through the congregation as intergenerational space, can be a corrective of the disintegration of family life, the fragmentation of society in different generations and developmental groups, the excessive emphasis on individualistic self-fulfilment and the social exclusion and marginalization of children if, in the development of an effective ministry with children, the focus is on the rediscovery and realization of identity as a reflection of God’s missional and community-building identity.