Knowing how to nurture faith in young people is a challenge, particularly when we want to encourage a faith that is generous, innovative, and contextual. Faith Forward gathers 21 presentations from the 2012 “Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity” conference held in Washington, D.C., and makes them available for those in ministry with children and youth, pastors, parents, professors – anyone called to help young people on their journey of faith. Authors and attendees alike came from several countries and many denominational inflections. Likewise, the chapters express various contemporary takes on Christian faith and discipleship.
This book is a gold mine of information and inspiration for those seeking to engage children and youth in respectful conversation, exploration, and learning in today's complex world. If you are seeking grassroots, forward thinking, ecumenical, innovative, and collaborative ways to do children and youth ministry, then this book provides the material to move you in that direction.
Some contributing authors: Shane Claiborne (foreword) | Brian McLaren | John H. Westerhoff, III | Tony Campolo | Ivy Beckwith | Samir Selmanovic | Joy Caroll Wallis
David M. Csinos is founder and president of Faith Forward, an organization for innovation in ministry with youth and children. He writes and speaks widely on issues related to faith formation, culture, and ministry with young people. His books include Children’s Ministry that Fits, Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus (with Ivy Beckwith), and Faith Forward (with Melvin Bray). You can learn more about him at davecsinos.com.
Melvin Bray helps communities of goodwill discover better stories and scripts (ways of thinking and doing) for relating across differences in identity. He is founder of Kid Cultivators and coordinating author of The Stories in Which We Find Ourselves. www.melvinbray.com
This is a seminal book in every sense of that word…Seminal in that by addressing the implications of Emergence and Emergence Christianity for the religious formation of children and youth, it addresses one of (and arguably the) central questions facing 21st-century Christianity in the West. Seminal in that, for the first time, it brings together in one place the insights, wisdom, and practical suggestions of our most experienced and inspired leaders and thinkers in the field. Seminal in that, with vigor and candor and the unbeatable virtues of fine writing and good editing, it describes for us an entirely accessible landscape of hope and holy purpose. In sum, this is a seminal book.Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core, and author of Acts of Faith and Sacred Ground
The future of our faith traditions has everything to do with the formation of our youth, and the vitality and well-being of our young people is deeply connected to the ways they learn their faith. I am often concerned that religion is presented in ways that strike youth as uninspired and irrelevant, "as an old man saying no," as the saying goes. But not in this book. Faith Forward is full of light and warmth. It is a treasure for coming generations, and present ones as well.Parker J. Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, The Courage to Teach, and Let Your Life Speak
This book is a treasure trove of wisdom from leaders who share the best of what they have to offer in the quest to nurture faith and spirituality among the young. Dave Csinos and Melvin Bray invite us to a banquet of good words and good work. Here we can spend time in the company of authors, activists, and ministers who inspire and challenge us to imagine how we might share our faith with young people and how we might open ourselves to being changed by the faith that animates the lives of the young.Jim Wallis, President, Sojourners, and author of God’s Politics and On God’s Side
Thinking about, writing about, and trying to engage ‘the common good’ these days, especially in the dysfunctional city of Washington D.C., has shown me how uncommon it really is. And it surprises people to hear me say that I believe the things we say and do inside our households, with the people closest to us, may do as much or more for the common good than all we can accomplish outside. And the heart of that is how we raise our children. So this book has the right priority and I hope many people read it.Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico
All the world religions are finding it very hard to pass on their faith to the next generation in a mature way. How do you make faith something real, personal, and loving, while still honest, intelligent, and inclusive? It takes real pastoral and practical genius to do this--and here it is!Vincent G. Harding, Co-founder and Chairperson, Veterans of Hope, and Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation, Iliff School of Theology
Those of us who care deeply about the future of our children (who are, of course, all children) will find this collection to be a great gift and a magnificent challenge, pressing us to recognize our crucial roles in nurturing our younger companions on the way of life. Faith Forward calls us to see the need for rethinking, renewing, and revisiting the stories of faith that originally nurtured many of us in order to help such stories become more fully available to our children as they set out on their own contemporary journeys of hope and great possibilities. Such rediscovering of faith is certainly a challenge well worth wrestling with—for our children, for our faith communities, for our nations, and for ourselves.Mary Hawes, National Children’s Advisor, Church of England
Why do we try to give children a version of Christianity that hasn’t worked for so many adults? Faith Forward challenges us to rethink how we offer the gospel to children and youth without the baggage our generation has added to it.Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Pastor Emeritus, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, Illinois
Dave Csinos and Melvin Bray have compiled an invaluable book for anyone seriously interested in doing effective ministry with children and youth in the 21st century. Faith Forward will help pastors and youth ministers in their efforts to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ in culturally competent ways that speak to youth from all across the spectrum of humanity. I highly recommend it not only to pastors, youth ministers, seminary professors and seminarians, but also to parents who are trying to understand the cultures that shape our young people.Reginald W. Bibby, Board of Governors Research Chair, Department of Sociology, University of Lethbridge
This is an extremely stimulating, mind-stretching collection of presentations that articulate the emerging contours of Christianity the authors believe are needed for new times. Beyond broad strokes, the authors provide concrete ideas with respect to how these core emphases can be part of good ministries to children and youth. As such, this is an invaluable resource for Christian leaders who – like the hockey superstar – are skating not to where the puck is, but to where it is going to be.Andrew Root, author of The Relational Pastor, The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, and the Theological Journey through Youth Ministry Series
It is so important, and yet so hard, to fuse ideas and action, action with reflection. David Csinos and Melvin Bray have picked up this challenge in Faith Forward and wonderfully pushed us in this direction. Each chapter provides rich thoughts that draw the reader deep into thinking about her own ministry, seeing the connections between church and ministry, theology and life, youth ministry and children's ministry. This is a book that will challenge you and draw you into the fusion of new thoughts and actions.Elizabeth F. Caldwell, Harold Blake Walker Professor of Pastoral Theology, McCormick Theological Seminary
Read this book with a pencil nearby. Read this book if you want to draw outside the lines of ministry with children and youth. Taste from the potluck of stories, ideas, and challenges from a remarkable group of women and men who care about how faith is nurtured and lived with all of God’s children.Mike King, President of Youthfront, Executive Editor of Immerse Journal, author of Presence-Centered Youth Ministry
When David Csinos, Melvin Bray, and others assembled 450 youth ministry and children’s ministry leaders for the CYNKC conference in Washington, D.C., something truly extraordinary happened. They curated an ingenious environment in which prophetic imagination erupted, birthing innovative ways of thinking and dreaming about a new Christian renaissance of spiritual formation and living for children and youth in the world through the church of Jesus Christ. This book gives you a glimpse into some of the ideas that fueled this generative dialogue and will invite you to join the dialogue as God’s Spirit woos us into God’s good future.Mark Yaconelli, author of Contemplative Youth Ministry
The old institutions of Western Christianity have passed away. In Faith Forward you have the opportunity to listen to the pioneers of the coming era. Listen and be inspired by the creative, enlivening, and compassionate forms of community that emerge from those called to cultivate the freedom of Jesus among our children and youth.Catherine Maresca, Director of the Center for Children and Theology, Washington, D.C.
Faith Forward makes important contributions to the discussion of how young people will participate in emerging church communities. The book offers a wide array of considerations and practices that should or could be brought into new contexts, including some gems on including children often marginalized and a new look at the idea of mission in today's diverse world. With twenty-one widely varied chapters to choose from, it's a book that can be enjoyed as the topics call to you.Joanna Shenk, editor of Widening the Circle: Experiments in Christian Discipleship and co-producer of the Iconocast podcast
Don’t be fooled, this book is not just for those involved in children’s and youth ministry! It’s for all adults willing to wrestle with their own faith development. Before inspiring your next Sunday school plan, I hope this book challenges you to examine your own assumptions about what it means to be Christian today.Frank Mercadante, founder and Executive Director, Cultivation Ministries
If you are looking to be engaged by some innovative and forward-thinking ideas about 21st-century children’s and youth ministry, Faith Forward is a stimulating read. Moving us beyond the status quo, each chapter gives us a new lens for practicing a new evangelization.Craig Mitchell, Director of Christian Education and Discipleship, Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University, South Australia.
What I love about Faith Forward is the breadth of the conversation and richness of the stories of its contributors. The narratives in these chapters are adventurous, inspiring, provocative, courageous, and full of practical wisdom. They invite us not simply to do things differently to young people, but to seek to become with them the kind of church that God is (re)shaping.
Many of the articles were really inspiring and sparked my imagination. I’ve been encouraged to not only tell the stories of Scripture, but to think about how I tell them. The articles have given me a few new ways of engaging my children’s imagination and senses in the story, and teaching them how to ask good questions of the text. The articles have also encouraged me to think about the other stories I tell my kids- stories of grace, of hope, of peace, of Kingdom-coming-stuff. The authors have given me real tools to refashion Bible stories so that kids are able to hear them again, with fresh ears, and open hearts. I’ve observed kids (and adults…and myself!) with an “I already know that story” mentality in Sunday school, and they are then unable to encounter God through that story because their prior knowledge doesn’t allow their hearts to be open to something new that God might want to say.
This is a fantastic resource that I’m recommending to those who have children of any age, as well as those who work regularly with children and youth in the church.
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