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10 September 2010 2 Comments

Here are my ‘Top 20’ selection of books to get you started thinking about topics like child theology, ministry to children and families and inclusive worship.

How do we as a church prepare children and young people to be involved in the ongoing life of the church?   Are we countering the negative messages of our culture?  Do children have opportunities to develop an inner working model of  Christian language, an understanding of their identity as Christians, how to make ethical decisions and discuss the meaning of life and death?

I’d be interested to hear your suggestions for further recommended reading.

Judyth Roberts
Children and Families Ministry Consultant

Top 5 Children’s Ministry Books

Real Kids, Real Faith by Karen Marie Yust

Thoughtful exploration about how to provide spiritually nurturing practices into every-day family life.  Lots of stories to illustrate ideas that will be useful for children’s ministry workers and/or parents.

Postmodern Children’s Ministry
by Ivy Beckwith

Ivy Beckwith provides an overview of what has and hasn’t worked in the past and seeks an alternative, relational style of children’s ministry to take us forward.

Idolising Children by Daniel Donahoo

An Australian dad holds up a mirror to our society and culture and highlights the distortions to our families that result.

Children’s Spirituality by Rebecca Nye

Based on research with many children in the UK, this book will make you look at children differently and inform your interactions with them.

Mission-Shaped Children by Margaret Withers

The book ‘Mission Shaped Church’ included the importance of involving and nurturing children in the church. So this is a thorough report to the UK Church of England about strategies based on the evidence collected.  It contains much information and guidance for  Christians anywhere in the world who are seeking a way forward to a church that does more than contain and entertain children.

Top 5 Child Theology Books

Children and the Theologians by Jerome Berryman

A book about the complex history of childhood and how it intersects with Christian history and practice.  He suggests children are a means of grace; welcome them and Christ will enter in also.

Graced Vulnerability by David Jensen

Jensen suggests that vulnerability is a dimension of the imageo Dei, and that childhood provides a window for understanding the shape of graced human life.  A small but powerful book.

Welcoming Children by Joyce Mercer

A challenging read, weaving the voices of children with feminist theory, liberation theology, educational and cultural studies.  Mercer is one of many theologians working on an integrated theology of childhood to assist the church in its ministry with children.

Let the Children Come by Bonnie-Miller-McLemore

The by-line ‘Re-imaging children from a Christian perspective’ neatly sums up this book.

The author explores how to raise children with integrity in a post-modern society and demonstrates that the care of children is in itself a religious discipline and a communal practice that places demands on both parents and congregations.

The Child in the Bible edited by Marcia Bunge

An impressive volume with eighteen contributors exploring children in the Bible and their roles and responsibilities, with attention paid to how this may shed light on the stories and interpretation of events.

Top 5 Child-Friendly Worship Books

Messy Church by Lucy Moore

Full of practical advice about where to begin and what to do to reach out to families with young children.

Messy Church 2 by Lucy Moore

Part of the Fresh Expressions movement, Messy Church is about creating a worshipping community for people who are unlikely to come on Sunday mornings. The chapter on food has thoughtful reflections on the important place of hospitality in faith practice.

All Age Worship by Lucy Moore

An exploration of the organisation and practice of all-age worship

Young Children and Worship by Sonja Stewart and Jerome Berryman

A thorough guide to introducing worship to young children using the Godly Play methodology.

A Church for All Ages by Peter Graystone

A practical, thoughtful book about worship and what it means to be  a Christian community that includes children.

Top 5 Books for Parents

The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

Another in the series about ‘love languages’, but applying them to your children can lead to a fresh understanding of your familial relationships.

In the Midst of Chaos by Bonnie Miller-McLemore

Parenting as a spiritual practice? This book captures the messy aspects of parenting but Bonnie Miller-McLemore shows ways to discover God in the midst of busy, ordinary and routine days of parenting.

The Secret of Happy Children by Steve Biddulph

Wise advice for valuing and enjoying family life, including extended family.

Boundaries with Kids by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

Practical advice about mental, emotional and spiritual boundaries.

The Heavenly Party by Michele Guinness

This one could have gone into other categories, as it encourages the practice of hospitality beginning in the home and encompassing the church and whole community.  An inspirational book that draws on Jewish roots to joyfully integrate the sacred and secular in our families.


  • Sharon Pearson said:

    Great books listed here. I’ve also list some “Top Ten” on my blog – some overlaps and some different. Top books for children’s ministries, youth ministries, adult education, general Christian education, etc. https://rowsofsharon.com/resource-recommendations/