Of the 9 worship styles for kids, a child that leans toward the Enthusiast style is one who loves the mystery in Christianity. Learn how to help your enthusiast child connect with God through mystery and movement without losing their head-faith in the process.
What is an enthusiast?
Some people connect with God best when their emotions are high. This may occur during a worship service, an intense time of prayer, or when waking up from a vivid dream. Many discount this time as simply an emotional high, but from personal experience, I know that many of these encounters with God are real. It takes discernment to take those experiences and use them as building blocks of deep faith, but emotional experiences can contribute towards rootedness.
A few years ago I had a friend whose daughter had visions and dreams from God, is highly creative, and worships enthusiastically.
The enthusiast Christian loves God with all their being and shows it with excitement. They live on a rollercoaster ride of “letting go and letting God.” They dream big dreams, pray big prayers, worship with their whole body, and create with inspiration.
There is no getting around the fact that Christianity has its “mysterious” side. We worship and serve a supernatural God who manifests himself to us in supernatural ways. In this sense, every Christian will bear some marks of being an enthusiast, but enthusiasts by temperament are particularly fed by such experience.Gary Thomas “Sacred Pathways” (See on Amazon)
As a child in the tabernacle, Samuel clearly heard the voice of God. He spent his life following direct orders from God and prophesying to the Israelites. His life was filled with the mystery of nighttime voices, direct revelation from God, and even calling down thunderstorms in the name of God. To many, this sounds terrifying and impossible, but to our children with the enthusiast temperament, this type of relationship with God sounds incredible.
My youngest son is wildly passionate about life. He didn’t talk until he was 3 ½, but when he was 2, he would race to the instrument bucket to pick up a shaker as soon as we turned on the music, which he proceeded to shake in my face until I joined him. He is still very young, so it’s hard to know how he will connect with God, but I can see the seeds of an enthusiast. He is the one that prays most easily and lives most exuberantly.
How to Recognize an Enthusiast Child
In my experience, the enthusiast child is particularly easy to notice. This is the child that loves to dance and sing, particularly in group worship. They may experience spiritual dreams or waking visions and are probably very creative and imaginative. If you’ve talked about listening to the voice of God with your kids, this is likely the child that has the easiest time hearing the mysterious nudges in his heart.
Speaking of listening to God, let’s talk more about that. Learn more about helping your enthusiast child connect their head and their heart in this video:
At my church, we often have a set of worship flags at the back. It’s easy to pick out the Enthusiast children in the group – they’re the ones that pick up the flags and use them as more than stick to sword fight with!
One time I watched a child slowly wave a flag over his head, then lay down on the floor and let the flag lay down on top of him. Maybe he was just taking a nap, but I think he was having a moment with God. Isn’t that beautiful? Some kids just know intuitively how to embrace the mystery in Christianity.
What are the mysteries of Christianity?
Some parts of Christianity have been debated for centuries, and we’re no closer to truly understanding them than we were two thousand years ago.
These mysteries include huge theological issues like the following:
- the Trinity
- the Virgin birth
- Jesus’ resurrection
- the Sacraments
You can read more about the “Sacred Mysteries” on Wikipedia if you’re curious.
Other mysteries are more personal, like how God listens to (and answers!) our prayers, and how he speaks back to us.
The Enthusiast is typically someone who doesn’t question these mysteries – they take them at face value and live easily in metaphors and even contradictions. This summarized conversation between my enthusiast friend and my intellectual husband might help illustrate the difference:
ENTHUSIAST: Faith is like riding a bike! If you fall off, you just get back on and keep riding.
INTELLECTUAL: whaaaaa??? Faith is not like riding a bike. I need to KNOW things to believe! (Is this you? Read this post…)
Sometimes the mysterious experiences of the Enthusiast can be at odds with the Intellectual temperament. ? If you have a child that asks a lot of questions about the mysteries of faith, you probably have an Intellectual on your hands, not an Enthusiast. Read more about Intellectual kids here!
With children, you should always reinforce the truth that God will never contradict Scripture. If your child believes she’s sensing the prompting of the Holy Spirit, help her to search through the Bible to find a scriptural foundation that affirms God’s perspective.
4 questions to help you know if God spoke to you…or not
In fact, there are 4 specific questions I use for myself and for my kids to help them know whether or not they’ve heard from God. (if you want more info about how I apply these in my life or my child’s life, read this one.)
1) Is it in accordance with the character of God? (With a kid, I’d ask, ‘Does it ‘sound’ like something God would say?’) For example, we know God is love. If this prompting in your heart/vision/dream/word is not loving, it’s not God.
2) Does it remind you of something from the Bible? (Like maybe another Bible story.)
3) Does it help someone or bring someone closer to Jesus? (Maybe it’s just yourself!)
4) Do other believers agree that this seems like something God would say? (For kids, this is usually mom and dad.)
A Children’s Book That Emphasizes the Mystery in Christianity
A fantastic book to help lead you and your enthusiast child closer to God is Brad Jersak’s “Children, Can You Hear Me?”
This unique book is narrated from the perspective of Jesus, and helps kids see and hear Jesus in their daily life.
“Children, Can You See Me?” helps children experience God on a more real, physical level. It also gives several pages of tools for parents to help our kids learn to hear God’s voice when they pray.
It can also help you integrate listening prayer into your routine as well, if you read the book one page at a time and use it to truly spend time with Jesus. If you have multiple kids, the enthusiast will probably be the one who most quickly understands the concept of listening to Jesus, because they like living inside the mystery in Christianity!
One of the pages reminds our kids of this,
“You won’t usually hear me with your ears or see me with your eyes – although I might surprise you…But your heart will see me, your hearts will hear me, and your heart will know me. That’s because I made you!”Children, Can You Hear Me? by Brad Jersak
You can ask your local Christian bookstore to bring in “Children, Can You Hear Me?”, or nab it here on Amazon.
More on Sacred Pathways
This article was specifically about the Contemplative worship style and seeing God through quietness and sacrifice, but did you know there are actually 9 worship styles for kids?
I have a downloadable quiz that you can take which will help you determine which of the 9 worship styles your child leans toward. Take the quiz here.
The concept of Sacred Pathways comes from Gary Thomas’ book by the same name. Check out Sacred Pathways on Amazon.
More Sacred Pathways for Kids
- The Traditionalist Pathway
- A longer article: How to help your child grow spiritually
- A shorter article and video: One practical tip for teaching children about Jesus
- The Sensate Pathway
- A longer article: God gave us 5 senses: Here’s how our kids can use them to worship God
- A shorter article and video: Helping our kids engage God with all 5 senses
- The Naturalist PathwayA shorter article and video: Seeing God Through Nature
- The Intellectual Pathway
- This longer article on 5 ways to help an intellectual child grow in faith
- A shorter article and video: How to help your intellectual child with God through this one simple question
- The Activist Pathway
- This shorter article (with video) on how to help the world as a child
- This longer article: A Christian parents’ guide to encouraging child activism
- The Ascetic Pathway
- The Contemplative Pathway
- This article: Helping kids learn how to love Jesus more than anything
- The Enthusiast Pathway
- This article: Helping children embrace the mystery in Christianity