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Celebrating our 140th Anniversary

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Stages of Faith

Friday 4th January 2019

In university (10 years ago now) my dissertation was based on ‘Faith Development in Children.’ During my time as a trainee in the ministry I worked alongside various ministers who all had their own style of preaching and teaching. As a person who has always been around children and youths, I took a real interest in what was happening both in the Church services and also in the Sunday Schools (sorry for the old terminology). Each Sunday the children were told a story or given an object lesson and sometimes this was re-iterated in the Sunday School in another way and sometimes the Sunday School did something completely different.

The children need to hear the stories of course but how does that develop their faith? For me, one of the ways in which this happens is to do with the people with whom they are interacting in the Church, in their Sunday School and especially with you, Leaders in The Boys’ Brigade – children’s faith and our own develops by following the commands and actions of Jesus and by following the Christian examples of the people with whom they are interacting.

If we take a good look at our own lives when we are with each other in Church, during our time on Company nights – are we someone that young people and fellow leaders would aspire to be like? Are we kind, loving, giving and caring people or do we just talk a good talk? Does our talk match our actions especially around the children in our care and with fellow Leaders? The Boys’ Brigade ‘Raise the Bar’ campaign is an example that each of us can aim for in all aspects of our lives, but especially in our faith life. We, and I include myself in this, need to raise our standards in our day to day living – for we can all do better.

On my bookshelf is a well-used and well-loved book, ‘Stages of Faith’ by James W Fowler. If you get the chance to read this book or get it from the library, it is a good read and helps to explain about childlike faith, the problem of moving on in your faith to absolute dedication in your faith like Ghandi, Mother Teresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The way I see it, is that we need to understand that each child and adult is at a different stage in their life of faith – from having no faith right through to people like Bonhoeffer and through hearing the Good News of Christ and through our words and actions we can learn from each other to develop our faith. We need to remember that sometimes we are the only people of faith that children and youth come into contact with! What impression are we giving them?

Rev Barbara Sweetin
Minister in East and Old Parish Church in Forfar

Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin, Minister in East and Old Parish Church in Forfar, went into the ministry later in life studying at Trinity College at the University of Glasgow after a very successful career in sales. She was involved in The Girls’ Brigade from a very young age until 46 years of age and also served as National Chaplain to Girls’ Brigade Scotland for three years and Dundee and Angus Battalion Chaplain for three years. Barbara Ann is currently the Chaplain to 2nd Forfar Company. She is married, has two children and recently became a grandmother for the first time. Rev Sweetin serves on the World Mission Council of the Church of Scotland and writes for a creative resource book called ‘Spill the Beans’. The one thing I would like you to know about me is that I am passionate about the work I do in Christ’s name!

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