A group of Children’s Ministry Leaders from the United States and Canada recently allowed my book, Shift: What it Takes to Finally Reach Families Today, to travel their blogs. They read the book from a Children’s Pastor perspective and gave their thoughts on the book as a practical help for ministry leaders. Thanks to each contributor for reading and responding. You can visit all of their blogs to read their responses by clicking the links below. For the record, I only know one of these leaders personally. We come from different backgrounds, a wide range of training, and hugely different ministry cultures. That’s what makes this really cool!
October 1 – Liz Perraud at http://thelogosministry.wordpress.com
October 2 – James Giroux at http://jamesgiroux.ca
October 3 – Lorraine Seaman http://www.rockrunner.blogs.com/al
October 4 – Larry Shallenberger http://childrensministryandculture.wordpress.com
October 5 – Tim Inman at http://blog.inmans.org/
October 6 – Joshua Simpson http://pjsperspective.wordpress.com
October 7 – Micah Foster http://micahfoster.wordpress.com
October 8 – Amy Dolan at http://lemonlimekids.wordpress.com
October 9 – Jesse Smith http://www.sillypuppies.com/bookworm
October 10 – Michael Chanley http://pureconnect.org
October 11 – Gina McClain at http://www.ginamcclain.com
October 12 – Henry Zonio at http://www.elementalcm.com
As the author of Shift it was both uplifting and insightful to hear people passionate about leading kids spiritually weigh in on the content of my book. I am really grateful for all of your work. I hope I get to meet each of you somewhere along the way. There were several threads common to some of the blogs. I would clarify 4 things for the reader.
1) I wrote the book understanding that most practitioners already get the church side of the coin. It does take a village but spiritual formation is best when parents play an effective lead role in that process. My strategy does not debate the need for church. Instead we partner church and home intentionally. Certainly we connect kids with other leaders and children besides the family. Community is a huge part of our strategy. We don’t leave kids out who will never be led by their parents spiritually for whatever reason.
2) About cookie cutters: I don’t expect my book to produce a bunch of Kingsland clones. At the same time the foundational principles are very transferable and systematic for churches seeking to build a strategy that includes family in the discipleship process. I would not have written the book if I thought the basic principles would not work in thousands of churches. From the contributors I got a sense that they felt this strategy is only for the traditional family. Bad assumption. If you have not noticed, there really are not many traditional families left. I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world. We deal with all of it so I see it working in all kinds of families.
3) It is important to view the path of milestones as a journey involving church and home. When a family and a church commits to the journey they understand something. The time between each milestone is necessary. You need days, months, and years between Milestones for your children to mature, learn, and grow. The church and the family uses these days to invest in children. So, while it is easy to say there is too much time between each milestone as a critique, practically the time is necessary for growth and development of the child and intentionality by the family and the church. It is in the “in between times” that worship, Bible study, community, Faith Talks, God Sightings,and events serve as environments to help people grow. Milestones are not the only thing we do. In between we use children’s ministry, student ministry, and adult ministry to help people grow. The shift then is to give families a road map and show them how your ministry helps them along the way.
4) Finally I would say to some contributors, you are only half right in your understanding of Dt. 6:4-9. Dt. 6:4-9 is a “both and”… the people of Israel and the family. Having spent many weeks immersed in the culture and context of the Shema and many hours studying the Torah portions under messianic teachers I have learned the practical out lay is around the family table or in the context of life together as family. So yes, there is a strong sense of spiritual formation in community but equally there is a strong sense of spiritual formation in the family as the primary (not the only) environment for equipping the next generation. When you follow the thread of Dt. 6, Psalm 78, Proverbs, Matthew 22:46-40, Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:11-12 and Eph. 6:4 you find a beautiful partnership. It speaks organically to generations but also to parents in those generations. This is what the western church is missing. I think this may be why God is using many different voices to echo the same truth. To neglect either the church or the family in the spiritual formation process is unbiblical. They work together… organically.
Again, thanks for the conversation. I am so grateful that you each took the time to read the book and blog. Let’s continue the conversation. It is far from over.