And a Child Shall Lead Them…

00002874This phrase, of course, is from Isaiah 11:6, and is used from time to time in catechesis with regards to children taking leadership roles. I experimented with this concept on Monday evening by having one of my students lead the guided reflection!

This was a big risk for me and I have to admit that I have a very hard time of letting go of things like this because I know how it should be done. However, I thought I’d give it a whirl and it turned out OK.

Good thing is, I have a small group and they like doing the guided reflections and they have been behaving very well during these experiences. So what I did was, I chose a student who is a good reader and I asked her before class if she would be willing to read the script that I had ready. I showed her the technique of counting slowly to 2 in her head after every sentence (to slow the pace down) and counting slowly to 5 in her head after every time the script said “pause” to allow for reflection.

I still did my part of getting everyone into their “sacred space” and quieting them down before turning it over to my volunteer. My aide and I were able to “patrol” the room as the reflection went on (I also had quiet music in the background and the lights dimmed).

In all, my volunteer did pretty well. She was a bit nervous and so her pace was a bit too quick but not terribly so. I slowed her down once but I basically let go and allowed her to do it on her own.

The script she used was from a book called Guided Reflections for Children, Volume 1: Praying with Scripture. I would say that her reading part took about 8-10 minutes, including all of the built-in pauses. The rest of the group was as quiet as usual and perhaps more so since it was one of their peers leading them and since two adults were patrolling the room!

Afterwards, I thanked the volunteer and asked if anyone else would like to do this in the future and one young lady raised her hand, so I’m going to give it another try.

Has anyone else tried something like this?

I’m going to prod one of the young men to volunteer as well. I’ve been noticing how the guys often sit back and let the young ladies take the lead when it comes to speaking and leadership roles in RE. Years ago, young girls felt pressure to not assert themselves in learning situations…even feeling the need to “act dumb” in certain situations when they were around guys. Thankfully, that has changed. Unfortunately, now sometimes, it is the guys who feel they need to “act dumb” when around the girls (no big surprise when you see how men, especially fathers, are portrayed on TV and in the movies these days).

Anyone else noticing this?

About Joe Paprocki 2739 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at

8 Comments on And a Child Shall Lead Them…

  1. Oh, as to your other question, I have 10 boys and 2 girls so I see the opposite; but more because I think they feel uncomfortable and somewhat outnumbered then because of any societal influence. I try to engage everyone though, so they can’t hide.

  2. It’s nice that the 11-12 year-old boys in my class haven’t learned the “act dumb” routine yet, and the girls haven’t learned the coy/ flirt shtick either. I think I have them where their brains can do real thinking, but their hormones don’t matter yet. Sort of a sweet spot.

  3. Hi Joe.

    Sorry I’ve been rather “absent” lately from the blog…..have had a lot going on. This is such a great idea to have a student lead the guided reflection. I just got through my 3rd guided reflection in my last class and we did it in the Chapel for a change. I was rather adament regarding the presence of the Eucharist in the chapel and to behave appropriately. My students were the quietest they have ever been! Nothing like the presence of Jesus to straighten everyone up.

    I view visits to the chapel as a rare treat though (maybe once now and then again during Lent for the stations) so we’ll be back in the classroom for reflection next time. After I get a little more experience under my belt, I may try letting a student lead us. Thanks again for the great idea.

    • Greg, good to “see” you back. It’s always nice to get the kids to the church or chapel and especially in the presence of the Eucharist.

  4. How awesome! We’ve been letting classes between grades 1 – 8 lead the opening prayer each week. Our opening prayer unsually features the “basic” prayers we all need to memorize. The kids seem to prefer to either “popcorn” or lead together but so far they have all risen well to the occassion.
    I’m a great believer in letting kids know we believe in their ablities to do their best. It is amazing how often even the older ones will try to live up to that higher “antcipation”.

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