I don’t know about you, but when I hear the phrase, “transforming children into spiritual champions,” I get rather excited! I love working with kids and helping them to learn more about Jesus. The idea of a “spiritual champion” is something I can really get behind. That’s the goal; that’s what I’m shooting for.
One would think that the author of a book entitled Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions would be a die-hard, sold-out children’s ministry advocate. I believe that George Barna is such a person, but he readily admits that children’s ministry was not always on the top of his list of priorities. “Like most adults, I have been aware of children, fond of them and willing to invest some resources in them; but I have not really been fully devoted to their development. In my mind, they were people en route to significance – i.e., adulthood – but were not yet deserving of the choice resources… From the moment I’d accepted Christ at age 25, I’d been seduced into believing the great myth of modern ministry: Adults are where the Kingdom action is.” (p. 11-12)
Barna’s goals for the book are simple: point out the importance of spiritual growth, as well as the many viable ways to utilize resources within the church body, and provide tangible examples of best-practices from the most effective children’s ministries in the country. Further lending to his credibility, Barna’s claims are supported by data from two years’ worth of tested and refined nationwide surveys. If you’re ever looking for a solid, research-based argument in support of the value of children’s ministry, this is it.
Understand going in that portions of the book are heavily-laden with statistics, but don’t let that keep you away. If you pay attention, the statistics are actually incredibly helpful in understanding children and families today. Barna’s chapter on the importance of children from God’s perspective also serves as a refreshing reminder of why we do what we do in children’s ministry. The highlight of the book for me, though, was Barna’s description of the methods and techniques that facilitate the greatest impact in the lives of children and their parents. Some of them seem obvious, while others may come as a surprise.
If you are heavily involved in your church’s children’s ministry, I would highly recommend Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions. To volunteers, parents, and others, the book is certainly worth a read, but some sections will seem a little irrelevant (i.e. curriculum selection, large-scale ministry evaluation, etc.). Overall, a great read, though.
Have you read Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions? What do you think?