Attract kids to church, the logic often goes, and you get parents in the pews. All that's left, then, is to get the kids out of the way. Here children's ministers David Csinos and Ivy Beckwith draw on research in human development and spiritual formation to show how children become disciples and churches become centers of lifelong discipleship.
For too long, the local church has focused primarily on programs for children rather than ways of doing ministry with children. But in light of emerging missional movements, the church is changing and forming a new kind of ecclesial culture. And children's ministry must follow suit. Csinos and Beckwith propose a new way of thinking for these modern churches—they suggest that children can contribute to our theological understandings, as well as invest in and practice Biblical justice just like adult church members. Here is a unique resource that explores children's ministry in light of true spiritual formation and discipleship.
"This book is a beautiful invitation into a way of ministering alongside children. I love how Beckwith and Csinos write about formation with children as a tale of traveling companions, setting out on a journey together to know and experience God along the way. Rich!"
"Finally--a design for children's ministry that actually takes children seriously! Incisive, thoughtful and creative, David Csinos and Ivy Beckwith have written a wonderful guide, packed full of constructive ideas, for fostering a 'new ecclesial culture' in which children are full and lively participants in Christian life and community."
"Simply brilliant! If I could influence church leaders and children's ministry practitioners to read just one book on children's ministry, Children's Ministry in the Way of Jesus would be the one. In this book Dave and Ivy have achieved something remarkable as they have captured the current picture of children's ministry in the West, succinctly set that picture within recent history and used their collective wisdom, experience and knowledge to purposefully provide the settings for an alternative future in children's work--a future not solely focused on educative or entertaining programs and children's cognitive ability but a much more holistic approach. One that is more intentionally nurturing and formational to children as spiritual beings, theologians, disciples of Jesus and worshipers of God within, of course, a church community--a community that is intergenerational, humble and willing to journey with them as fellow travelers and colearners as we all seek to grow in the way of Jesus day by day. Children's Ministry in the Way of Jesus needs and deserves to be one of the most influential texts on children's ministry of our generation and in years to come."
"Hats off to Csinos and Beckwith for partnering to produce a book that will help to change children's ministry as we have known it. What a difference this change will bring to the spiritual formation of kingdom kids! As both practitioners and scholars, Csinos and Beckwith have combined their talents to provide a thought-provoking resource for revolutionizing the ministry paradigm found in many, many evangelical churches. They challenge children's leaders to go much deeper than merely providing the best (think fun) hour of the week for children; they want children to meet God and be formed through the Holy Spirit. Of course, there is a chapter on theology but also a chapter on dealing with the hard, honest questions that children ask--a chapter that includes the value and virtues of doubts. Children's Ministry in the Way of Jesus explores themes and concepts beyond most children's ministry books. I will eagerly recommend it to my students."
"Finally there is a book for practitioners in children's ministry that spells out what those in the academic world of children's Christian education have been saying for decades: children's ministry needs to be, primarily, about spiritual formation! Ivy Beckwith and David Csinos masterfully weave rich research with practical examples from their experiences leading children's ministries to cast a vision of ministry with children as opposed to ministry to children. Children's Ministry in the Way of Jesus provides churches with a clear path to engaging children's hearts, minds and imaginations with the transformative message of the gospel."
"In Children's Ministry in the Way of Jesus, David Csinos and Ivy Beckwith take a thoughtful and insightful look at the faith of children and how the church has and should respond to that faith. This book is deep enough to be enjoyed by those with years of experience but clear and engaging enough to be read by those just starting in the field. The authors' emphasis on how theology should shape ministry with children is both helpful and challenging. This is a great book for any group of people working with children to read together."
"Popular approaches to children's ministry equate good children's ministry with glitzy, fun programs that parents and congregations appreciate for giving them respite from children's presence. In contrast, Csinos and Beckwith define children's ministry as serving and caring for children, leading them in turn to serve one another and the world as Jesus' followers. This insightful book will help congregations--not just 'children's ministers'--explore what Jesus meant by teaching us to welcome and be led by children."
"With all the creative planning, programming, theologizing and dreaming that's been happening for youth and adults, there has been too little fresh thinking about ministry with children. Thankfully, that's changing--and this book is prime evidence of that good news. If you're ready to venture into new horizons in children's ministry, start reading. You'll find well-written chapters full of wise insight--and you'll be inspired to be part of a new era in the spiritual formation of children."
"The book's practical chapters make many good points. I don't think there is a Sunday school teacher alive who isn't teaching with the hope of making lifelong disciples. Some of Csinos' and Beckwith's ideas would certainly help."
Foreword by John H. Westerhoff III
Introduction: Doing Children?s Ministry Differently
1 The Task of Children?s Ministry
2 Authentic Spirituality
3 Formational Discipleship
4 Vibrant Theologies
5 Living Stories
6 Honest Questions
7 Meaningful Participation
8 Radical Hospitality
9 Intergenerational Community
10 Transformative Justice
11 Holistic Lives
12 The End of Children?s Ministry