This post is a brief review of the book by George Barna called, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions.”
I am glad that there is this book called, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions,” that is going around the world with it’s perspective that children’s ministry matters. Of course, being in children’s ministry I’m already convinced of that fact, but the statistics certainly show that what is done with “the least of these” has huge impacts on the worldview of our cultures. The stats bring to our attention that much that is shaped in the minds of children will harden into adulthood. Like a soft clay pot that is easily formed and altered, but when aged and left to dry it hardens into a permanent shape. So much of who we are is determined from infancy! Therefore so much of how we live as adults should also be zoned in on how we intentionally and strategically shape and lead children.
I disagree with the exclusivity of this book being only about American children! At the very least, I take offence that Canadians weren’t included in this study! (HA!) Kidding aside, one challenge with a book like George Barna’s is it’s basis on statistics. While statistics are very important to general understandings, they can also be limiting. In other words, God can bring new life regardless of any statistics and regardless of any age. A set of statistics could be one way at one period of history, but then a spiritual awakening can happen that throws the stats out the window! I’m not completely disagreeing with the premise of the book, because statistics are still revealing and helpful. I’m also not saying that George Barna is trying to limit God! I’m just adding some clarification to the overall thrust of the book that is based on people’s responses to a survey, which can be very subjective and apt to change from year to year. How do you think stats should be used in ministry?
I think the most pivotal and foundational part of the book is the chapter called, “Why Kids Matter.” The Biblical basis for this chapter should move anyone to a greater appreciation for how God views children. Beyond mere appreciation, the Biblical texts on children should fill believers with passion for the weakest and most innocent among us. This passion should drive people to make a difference in the lives of children. The section regarding the ultimate battlefront (p.50ff) urges us to put children as the top priority in our battle against the Evil One. Once the clay pot is hardened, it cannot be re-softened. (This is not to say that adults cannot be saved or changed as God can do the impossible). Therefore, the church must put much emphasis and resources into the training up of children to form a Biblical worldview. Doing this effectively would prevent many of the social problems and family breakdowns that occur, as well as, giving as many as possible the opportunity to receive Jesus.
The ministry setting in which I am a part of could be infused with a new passion if these thoughts and ideas could begin to take hold. Myself, volunteers and parents are easily discouraged and can become indifferent in a moment. Greater awareness of the immense value God places on children will alone motivate greater ministry. Strategies, plans, programs, ideas are all important, but if there is no fuel to energize and sustain what’s happening, it’s very easy to dry up or worse, give up. I believe there is much God-honouring fuel (as well as practical suggestions) from the content of this book that can multiply fruit in many lives.