Saturday, July 23, 2011

Formational Children's Ministry by Ivy Beckwith

Ivy Beckwith is one of the people writing about children's ministry currently whose ideas I most resonate with.  Having read this book over the last few days, I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a role with children.

The title "Formational Children's Ministry: shaping children using story, ritual and relationships"is a very good descriptor of the book.  The key idea of the book is the formation of children (as opposed to giving children knowledge).  In discussing this formation, the book discusses the importance of story (God's story, their story, our family story, the story of the church through the ages and the individual faith community story), the importance of ritual and the importance of different types of relationships.

There are some good practical examples about how to engage story, ritual and relationships in the formation of children and it's a book with a balanced understanding of the role of family and the role of the faith community in the formation of children.  Another thing that I thought that Ivy does really well is speak across a broad range of expressions of "church" - broad evangelical, liturgical and emerging.

Without spelling it out constantly, the book also has a solid understanding of the current context of today's children, families and churches.  One of my favourite quotes from the book embodies this understanding:
"The millennials and futuristic adaptives, the two generations we currently teach in our churches, are not primarily linear thinkers.  They do think logically and linearly, but it is not the only way they think, and it is not necessarily their preferred way of processing information.  Therefore, lessons that are heavily dependent on linear thinking are not going to capture them the same as lessons that include kinesthetic, intuitive, affective, and 'loopy' ways of processing information." (p28)

Parents, people involved in children's ministry, ministers, teachers, friends of kids - I highly recommend it!