Beyond the Children’s Corner
Creating a Culture of Welcome for All Ages
by Margaret Pritchard Houston
Brimming with helpful advice bred from years of experience and thoughtful practicality, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution for the ideal church – we know those don’t exist. Instead, this starts from where you are, acknowledges the frankly frustrating process of dealing with real people in real churches, and works with what you have (which is probably more than you think).
With plenty of real-life case studies to encourage us, it also has hilarious imaginary scenarios which make us laugh at the mistakes of others then wonder silently if perhaps we are doing some of those things ourselves. (I’m looking at you, St Swithun’s in-the-Swamp.)
It is solidly based on a Biblical approach to children as spiritual beings in their own right – not as empty vessels needing to be filled, nor as seedlings needing to be gown into ‘proper’ Christians, but fully believers alongside adults – just shorter. This takes seriously what we say at the baptism service: that we are children of the same heavenly Father.
There are practical steps, long term pathways and ‘quick wins’ to make every church a more welcoming place for children and their frazzled parents, but with care and consideration for those who may feel apprehensive at losing the church they know. I highly recommend this book.
You may also be interested in these:
- All Age Worship by Lucy Moore (the founder of Messy Church)
- Children’s Spirituality: What it is and Why it Matters by Rebecca Nye
- Preaching with All Ages by Ally Barrett – Read a review here
ISBN: 978-11781401644, 200pp, 2020, Church House Publishing
Amazon Reviews – all Five Stars
Margaret clearly has heaps of hands on experience to draw on as a children and youth advisor, but she grounds this in well reasoned theology and research as well. As a tool for clergy, children’s ministers, and frankly anyone who wants to help their church to grow younger, broader and more inclusively, this is excellent. It helps you frame questions for leadership groups, to reflect on what needs to change and in what order, how to bring the whole church community along the journey together, and to be intentional about developing ministry with younger folk rather than simply Doing Many Things. I would post a photo of the book, but I’ve already lent it to someone else – it’s that kind of book! – Nick M
If your church is serious about changing how they work with children and families, this is the book for you. Margaret Pritchard Houston explores the key principles that underlie children’s ministry and not only gives ideas for change but also looks at how those changes might be achieved in churches (turning the dream into reality.) The inclusion of lots of stories and examples make this a very readable book, with lots to think about! – Sarah D
From the Blurb
Beyond the Children’s Corner is a practical handbook to help churches become more welcoming to children and families in worship.
It encourages PCCs and ministry teams to reflect on the spiritual needs of children, the pastoral needs of families, and how to remove barriers and manage change effectively.
Based on multiple training sessions and extensive casework, informed by research by the Church of England’s Life Events team and the Methodist Church, it explores:
- The changing needs of modern families;
- What tells you it’s time for change;
- ‘Quick wins’ to make the worship space more welcoming and spiritually imaginative;
- Engaging children in spiritually nourishing worship;
- Children and contemplative worship – what to do about noise;
- Building and sustaining relationships with families and children.
Many books on All-Age Worship focus the service itself. Beyond the Children’s Corner explores how children and adults can be truly integrated as the church community, covering parents’ perspectives, the church building and the challenge of change as well as what happens in worship.
About The Author
Margaret Pritchard Houston is Children’s Mission Enabler Adviser for the Diocese of St Albans and was previously Children and Families Worker in the Diocese of London. She lectures widely on the topic of this book and has extensive experience of training lay and ordained ministers.
Some books are sent to me as review copies; nevertheless, all opinions are my own.
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