I literally just got done reading Dreaming of More for the Next Generation by Michelle Anthony. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Matt Guevara, a local pastor and friend. When asked to read and review it I was honored.
What I liked
I believe this book comes at a critical time (at least for me) in family ministries. I also believe the author is asking all the right questions. Questions that I need to be reminded of as I continue down the family ministry road. The questions the author asks are the same one I wrestle with as a Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries. It all starts with Anthony's "7 Pillars" (beginning in chapter 2)
1. Family is primary
2. Spiritual formation is goal.
3. The Holy Spirit is the Teacher.
4. Scripture is the authority.
5. The big God story.
6. God is Central.
7. Ministry Support.
Anthony spends the rest of the book developing these pillars. She shares both successes and failures without telling readers "the right way" to do. By laying it out this way, she forces the reading to apply the answers to their specific ministries. This is refreshing (as I look around my office and see family ministry books that I've read that claiming if you follow these steps you will be "successful").
"Parents and ministry leaders can so quickly succumb to manipulating kids into good behavior and forgetting what really fosters faith: a relationship with God." pg. 23
"Spiritual formation is more that just information ..." pg. 29
"Spiritual parenting is not perfect parenting ... but rather imperfect parenting from a spiritual perspective." pg. 37
"We need to resist getting distracted by doing things about Him and instead create an environment where children encounter Him." pg. 65
"Spiritual formation is not just when somebody tells us something, but when God tells it to us or we feel His conviction." pg. 67
"The children and families in our ministries are looking to us to proclaim the truth of Scripture and the reality of God's power within us." pg. 87
"...faith muscles get flabby when they're not used, but they grow strong when they are flexed. ... For most Christians in the Western world today, our relatively comfortable way of life has eradicated our need to walk by faith and depend on God." pg. 104
"The faith stories of the kids in our ministry are not ones of us simply telling them what to do; rather it's giving them the opportunity to do it." pg. 109
"In order for them to navigate the oppression of the world and the tactics of the Enemy, the need to know truth." pg. 109
"People don't walk away from the truth; they walk away in search of truth. When you know truth - really know it - it transforms you!" pg. 110
"You see, when you teach the Bible as one story and not a collection of stories, there is a natural cliff-hanger moment every week. It's a continuing storyline, and the idea of coming back next week to hear what happens next is naturally woven into the text." pg. 124
"Once a child grasps the bigger storyline, it's important to captivate that child into the part that God wants him or her to play in it." pg. 134
"The biblical model of pausing reveals how the faith community intentionally stopped and gathered together, both at home and communally, to remember specific things God has done." pg. 142
"God designed us to live within a faith community that remembers and celebrates in order to experience Him in ways that can only happen while we are in close proximity to one another." pg. 146
"Worship is our response to God's power and glory. It's our response to who He is." pg. 154
"In order to seize the hearts of the young, we need to be diligent to create space for them to encounter Jesus. ... We need to provide time, energy, and devotions to exercise their prayer muscles and faith muscles in acts of authentic and vulnerable worship." pg. 155
"We want worship as a response to God to be the posture of their hearts in every situation, every day." pg. 161
"... change is an external force, while transition is an internal wrestling." pg. 174
There is importance and value to team building: " ... giving ministry away - and not just the parts I don't like." pg. 189
While more can always be said, I think its safe to say that this is a necessary read for anyone who looking to take their children's ministry to the next level. The "pillars" (and following explainations) are needed in every biblical, gospel-centered, children's ministry. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with my leaders and volunteers.
Children's, Youth, Family Pastor, get this book, read this book, pray and think through these issues for the health and impact of your ministry.