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...a stroke of genius

Booknotes review of our latest summit book . . . from HEARTS & MINDS Bookstore

Bridging Theory and Practice in Children’s Spirituality: New Directions for Education, Ministry, and Discipleship edited by Mimi L. Larson & Robert J. Keeley  (Zondervan) $22.99 – HEARTS & MINDS BOOKSTORE SALE PRICE = $18.39

Every Spring for many, many, years, Beth and I (and, more recently, our oldest daughter Stephanie) have played a role at the annual Eastern APCE Conference — that’s the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators, thanks for asking — and we missed it so badly this year. We miss these humble and often beloved local church educators that love children and adult formation, that study heady stuff about education theory and our social context and broad Reformed theology as it relates to the shelter and nurture of the children of God in the local congregation. We miss their exuberant dedication to children’s books and their love of creativity and their passion for learning. This book, quite simply, would have sold out there, I’m sure of it.

Mimi Larson is a professor of Christian formation and ministry at Wheaton, visiting there on loan from her work as children’s ministry catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries in the Christian Reformed Church. They do very good work and she is a fabulous, respected scholar-practitioner. She has served in the local parish, participated in curriculum development and authors books and book chapters.

Robert Keeley is professor of education at Calvin University (and also teaches discipleship and faith formation at Calvin Theological Seminary.) He wrote Helping Our Children Grow in Faith (Baker Books; $15.00 - you can also order this book through Hearts & Minds Bookstore) which we have sold well over the years. He’s a lively teacher and good writer.

Putting the two of these leaders together to edit a cutting edge volume about this shift from scholarship to practice, from theory to embodiment, was a stroke of genius. And they pulled together an extraordinary case to help offer a great resource for anyone serious about influencing a children’s spirituality and faith development. As the publisher’s promise, this book will help us “explore the different contexts and methods” that can help us accomplish this. The blend of practical application and theoretical understanding makes this widely appealing, and we are very glad to tell you about it now.

And what a great array of contributors — including a chapter by John Roberto who had been scheduled to be the keynote speaker for our Eastern APCE event. There are chapters here about racial diversity in children’s faith formation, surveys of different schools of thought and theologies of children’s ministry, good stuff about the role of the family and the role of the church. There is a chapter on children’s grief, a chapter on play, and an important chapter on what do to about “white” spirituality in children’s curriculum. Bridging Theory and Practice in Children’s Spirituality, unlike some similar anthologies, doesn’t have a bad chapter in it. We hope you’d consider getting one for leaders in the children’s ministry in your church.

(And if you are a long-time APCE friend, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone or send us an email. You’ve got to have this one!!)

note from the CSS board: THANKS, Hearts & Minds Bookstore for this thoughtful review!


Rohit Ahuja
Rohit Ahuja


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