Spiritual styles

Children enjoying storytelling at Brechin Cathedral
Children enjoying storytelling at Brechin Cathedral.

Creating worship that everyone can engage with is a challenge. Researcher Dave Csinos discovered that children prefer to worship in one of four different spiritual styles: word, emotion, symbol or action.

When children disengage from worship it is likely that they are not being able to encounter God in their preferred spiritual style.

If we change our focus from being all age worship to being all styles worship we have the potential to create worship experiences that enable everyone to encounter God together.

Four different spiritual styles

Some children will prefer to seek God intellectually with their head. Others will lead with their heart. Some will prefer to lift God up to the heavens with song and speech; others will find more meaning in serving the powerless. Learn more about the four styles.

Roots is a useful resource site which actively tries to incorporate these learning styles in their materials.

Brechin Cathedral storytellers


Those that have a preference for the word style, know God when they know about God. For them, the spoken and written words used in worship are important; they encounter God through well read Scripture readings, through the words of hymns, through the words of prayers, through the exposition of the Word through sermons.


Those that have a preference for the emotion style, know God when they can feel God, especially when they're with others. They encounter God through music, drama, dance, being with and sharing with one another. Personal relationships are treasured by people with a preference for the emotion style, so enabling them time within worship to cultivate them is important, as is the sharing of personal testimonies.


Those that have a preference for the symbol style, know God through mystery, symbols and images. They sense God through beauty, awe and wonder, and in the natural world so God can be felt in the mountains or in a stained glass window. For them meditation and chants can be really worthwhile activities and they value times for silent reflection as they like being alone to wonder about God.


Those with a preference for the action style, know God when they are doing the work of God. Spirituality for them is very much something to be lived so they have an unquenchable thirst for justice. They really like welcoming people as they come into church, writing letters, signing petitions and raising money for charity campaigns.