20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Douglas R. Davis
- Published on Amazon.com
Ivy Beckwith confronts what I believe to be the most important issue of any time: the generational transmission of cultural knowledge and wisdom, and the preparation of children for a meaningful and truly human life. Beckwith recognizes that the cultural, communal and familial project of raising children is both ontological (spiritual) and epistemological (educational). Thus, with inspiring grace and beauty, Beckwith approaches the topic of children's ministry as central to the life of a church community. In other words, Beckwith challenges Christians and Christian communities to be what they believe and to live what they teach. This, simply, is what postmodern children's ministry means to Beckwith. Beckwith begins by describing the idea of modern and postmodern as a process of cultural transition. Our culture and society is going through a transition from modern to postmodern that is lasting generations. There is no single point in time or event in which a shift from something called modern to something called postmodern occurred, occurs, or will occur. Nonetheless, Beckwith suggests that the youngest generations, especially the post 9/11 generation now entering school, is much more postmodern in sensibilities than previous generations. A strength of this book is Beckwith's explanation of modern and postmodern and exactly what she means with her description of the newest generation as one with "postmodern sensibilities." Simply, Beckwith suggests that the newest generations use information, process and think about knowledge, and communicate in new, unpredictable, and postmodern ways. Within this postmodern milieu, however, we still understand the psychosocial and spiritual development of children. Beckwith cites and uses the work of Eric Erikson and James Fowler to explain the development of identify and spiritual understanding of children. Key to successful child spiritual development is community. Beckwith states, "All churches are some kind of social community, but it takes thought, intent, and hard work to become a biblical community of faith that is foundational to the spiritual development not only of its children, but also of all its members" (72-73). Later, she continues, "Faith is not something that develops in a vacuum. Having faith, understanding faith, exploring faith, and questioning faith are not solo activities. These things are meant to be done with others who are on the same path or looking for the same path. These things are meant to be done with people older than us, the same age as us, and younger than us. These things are meant to be done with people who look, think, and live differently than we do" (74). From this foundational assumption, Beckwith proceeds to provide practical advice and wisdom on how to engage children in full community participation, the role of family in community and the spiritual growth of children and community, how to engage children in a living and meaningful Bible, and how to involve and include children in worship. The power of this work partially stems, I believe, from Beckwith's knowledge and experience as an educator. Simply, Beckwith is able to integrate strong professional knowledge of curriculum and pedagogy with spiritual development. One could, in fact, substitute the term "education" for "spiritual/religious development" and the work would remain nonetheless valid. Beckwith declares that the development of children into caring, productive, and world transforming adults is a community activity and responsibility. It is not a product bought from and delivered by an educational service provider in an isolated classroom or institution. This is true whether in a Sunday school classroom, a church, or a public or private school.