A Theology of Children and the Holy Spirit

As people who are part of an organization that loves and values the work of the Holy Spirit, we sometimes overlook or diminish the value of the Holy Spirit in the life of the child as a part of the community of faith. In scripture, children are viewed as a promise of hope and future glory.[1] Their role in the community is necessary and is a reflection of how God desires for His kingdom to function. This binding of children to the church is not for the good of a particular age group or generation, but for the common good of the church. The church shares not only their previous history with children, but also the destiny that is coming and will one day be fulfilled.[2]

One of the first things that we should understand as believers is the person of the Holy Spirit. As people who have experienced God’s grace through conversion, we have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not separate from God and is not just a form of energy or influence like we sometimes imagine; there is no inequality within the Godhead and the Holy Spirit has always existed from the beginning.[3] When we have a relationship with God, the Holy Spirit is already active in our life. This basic theological understanding also applies to children. They too have the Holy Spirit operating in their daily life. Sharing and teaching this understanding in our churches and to our children will enhance the understanding of the Holy Spirit and the work and gifts that are available to each and every believer regardless of physical age or stature.

The Holy Spirit is manifested in both the lives of the adult and the child. When we are open to the Spirit receiving full possession of our entire being, we are open to transformation that includes and is not limited to both the mind and the heart.[4] This type of transformation is what children need to be exposed to early on in life personally and in their community of faith. They must be surrounded by a group of believers that know what it means to walk, recognize, and engage in conversation with them about what the Spirit is doing. This cultivates an awareness and anticipation in the spiritual life of the child.

Though children have the Holy Spirit when they become believers, this is different from the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Children can receive this gift and should be encouraged to seek and be filled, as should any believer. Children need to be spirit-filled believers so that they may be under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit as they grow and mature in their holistic development.[5] If we desire children to walk in surrender to God as they develop, then their need to be filled also should be an open conversation in our churches and children’s ministries; this conversation begins when we create space for children to witness and learn about spirit baptism in a safe and loving environment.

All in all, our theological understanding of children and the Holy Spirit begins when we as a movement embrace the reality that they can experience and know the Holy Spirit in the same capacity as any believer. Though their fulness of this knowledge, like ours, will grow and expand over time as they mature in their relationship with God and God’s word, there is no reason for us to shy away from teaching and helping them embrace these truths. Let’s do our part to help kids know and love the Holy Spirit!

Visit www.cogop.org/children for trainings, resources, and additional blogs on leading children to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Joy Hensley serves as the Training Specialist for International Children’s Ministries, as well as associate pastor of children at Spring Place Church of God of Prophecy in Cleveland, Tennessee. She is a  graduate of Lee University with a Master of Arts degree in Ministry Studies.

[1] John Kie Vining and Lance Colkmire, eds., Growing Pentecostal Kids: A Covenant to Nurture Our Children (Early Childhood-Adolescents) (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 1993), 16-17.

[2] Ibid., 23.

[3] Ray H. Hughes, Who is the Holy Ghost? A Study of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 1992), 13.

[4] Ibid., 26.

[5] [5] John Kie Vining and Lance Colkmire, eds., Growing Pentecostal Kids: A Covenant to Nurture Our Children (Early Childhood-Adolescents) (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 1993), 26.