Too often they are lightweight and reflect little thought or study and therefore come down to just being a collection of unsupported thoughts that lack any kind of depth as they reflect nothing more than the author’s personal experience.
So I must start by applauding Lynn as this book avoids that trap and contains a great deal of evidence of reading, study and reflective practice. All the points that are made, even when the author feels they are recounting something they have heard from God are well supported by reading as well and therefore I think it’s a book that you could read and get stuff from even if you don’t come from the same part of the church as the author.
A key emphasis of the book is the desire for children to be drawn into the heart of the Church with their wider families taking inspiration from Biblical models of nurture. Family groups and clans are seen as being the basic unit in which children we’re brought up in the faith. Her desire to see this echoed in our churches with the church taking the role of the wider clan group echoes the thinking of John Westerhoff for example: who would says that children’s faith will grow best when they are welcomed into full membership of a multi-generational community. She really wants to have churches where children are on a par in their value and membership as adults and I would broadly agree with her on this aspiration.
My favourite part of the book is in a chapter in which she lists many things the Church needs to repent of to renew its ministry to children.
I wouldn’t put it that way but I believe the list she comes up with is very good and worth thinking over. Lynn lists things like ‘simply tolerating children, believing we have nothing to learn from children and being quick to judge a parent because of their child’s behaviour.
This list is very challenging as it cuts to the heart of the insidious things that easily undermine a superficially warm welcome for children.
The only issue I would have with this book is that it is clearly written with one type of church in mind and if you don’t go to a reasonably sized charismatic-evangelical church then much of the practice Lynn suggests may not help you very much and you’re going to have to take her principles and think through your own way of applying them.
I would have liked to have had more ideas that could have worked in other traditions and especially in smaller groups in order to help them grow. However the stories she does share from her practice should be enough to inspire you think about what you could do.
Children, Families & God is published by Destiny Image Europe and is available now.