Understanding God's heart for children
Posted by bms_editor at 00:00 on 11th May 2010
ed by McConnell, Orona & Stockley, Authentic Publishing
This book covers a wide range of issues and areas of childcare, from domestic churches to street children in places like India and South America. The contributors have a variety of experience and academic interest making this a challenging and interesting book.
The introduction sets out seven key phrases which underpin a kingdom approach to children, which are then addressed and expanded through the rest of the book. These phrases were identified as ‘a starting point for broader discussion of a biblical basis for our mission to children at risk’ by members of the Child Theology Movement.
The phrases provide the focus for each chapter and include such subjects as the uniqueness of each child, their need to be in families and communities, how society has a responsibility for the wellbeing of children and the hope children epitomise even in the midst of tragedy.
Understanding God's heart
Each chapter has a framework of biblical reflection, addresses critical issues, a response from a practitioner, a case study and practical implications. Each section was originally delivered as a paper at the fifth International Cutting Edge Conference in 2005 or specially commissioned for the book which results in a variety of styles and voices.
Contributors include BMS workers Georgie and Stuart Christine reflecting on their work with pre-school children through the PEPE (pre-school) project and Keith J White, leader of Mill Grove, a Christian residential community and lecturer in child development.
I found the case studies and practitioner’s responses particularly interesting as they were practical and spoke of real situations and children. Chapter 6 looks at children as members of God’s church and is very relevant to the issue of discipling young people. ‘Participants in God’s mission’ (chapter 7) sees children as active participants in outreach and mission through prayer and evangelism, not just recipients.
The theological reflection on ministry among children is refreshing and timely as churches face a serious decline in the numbers of children attending church. The projects examined provide inspiration and encouragement to those working in children’s ministry and many can be adapted to fit different situations.
The book would appeal to anyone interested in working with children either at home or abroad, at risk or not, as it broadens one’s knowledge of work with children across the world and gives serious biblical thought to ministry with children in our churches and communities.
Reviewer: Vanessa Rye, minister in training (formerly family and children’s specialist) at Didcot Baptist Church