Book Review: Formational Children’s Ministry by Ivy Beckwith

Let me just start by saying our church is not emergent at all. So when I read on Amy’s blog that she was organizing a blog tour of Ivy’s book I jumped at the chance. In the years I have been doing kids ministry I have learned a few things. Learning from people who do things different than you is always a good thing, never reject a principle of doing something just because you don’t personally agree with the method used, lastly the more I learn the more I realize I don’t know as much as I think I do.

In reading Ivy’s book I don’t think that our church would ever implement the practices described in her book. I do however think that there is a very real possibility that we will implement some of her principles. The ability to take a principle and apply to your own context is a powerful thing.

What I liked:

I liked how she talked about how kid need to understand where you have come from to give where you are going context. She talked about a church that she worked at that ignored it’s history because they were all about the future. I do agree you need to remember the past in building the future. The quote I like best about this is from Brian Huston he says at Hillsong church they “Honor the past but are more loyal to the future.”

I liked how she talked about how kids need to learn to tell their own faith story. I agree completely although our church will carry this out differently. She talked about how this happens for her durring confirmation for us it will happen during baptisms.

Been thinking about the statement she said in quoting a rabbi “There is no passing on of values without ritual”

We do have some rituals built into the core of our church but we need to really take a closer look on what those are and what new ones can we implement in our community.

I also liked what she had to say about spiritual formation in kids thorough spiritual disciplines. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately and believe that kids have a much higher capacity to experience God than we often give them credit for.

What I didn’t like :

I realize she must take a lot of abuse from other kids pastors due to her unconventional approach. Any time you are swimming up stream there is always someone there to slap you down. But I felt in reading her book that she came across harsh and almost condescending at times.

I am a huge fan of the local church in all it’s various forms I believe that the local church is God instrument to see His glory fill the earth. I felt that Dr. Beckwith does not seem to share that same sentiment.

I also don’t agree with her assumptions about teachers not teaching their kids the bible. When she for instance tosses out completely the Hook Book Look model, I think you are in danger of through the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.  I have found in working with kids that if something isn’t working tweak it. If you can’t tweak it go back to the drawing board preserve the principles that are true and timeless, change the methods used to communicate those values.

Conclusion :

I appreciate Dr. Beckwith addressing some of the concerns she has for the spiritual growth and development of kids. We start from very different places in the church community but share similar concerns and though we will no doubt use different methods to reach kids and families and help them grow and deepen their relationship with God. I am grateful that Dr. Beckwith and I are on the same team. Even though our churches and experience in life differ it is so great that we are building the kingdom of God in our corner of the world. I am grateful for the opportunity to sit down and hear Ivy’s heart. I encourage you to pick this book up and read it, you may not agree with everything in it but you will at the very least ask yourself why we do kids ministry the way we do and that is always a good thing.

NOTE: This book was provided to me by the generosity of Baker Books for the express purpose of being a part of the book blog tour for Formational Children’s Ministry. This, in no way, has biased my review either positively or negatively.


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