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Westminster John Knox Press

The Gifts They Bring - Print

The Gifts They Bring - Print

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The Gifts They Bring: How Children in the Gospels Can Shape Inclusive Ministry.

By Amy Lindeman Allen

Soft cover, 200pp
ISBN 9780664268343.
Westminster John Knox Press (2023)

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Children are often touted as the “future” of the church, but their role in the church today is less frequently considered. Scholar, pastor and mother Amy Lindeman Allen challenges readers to reconsider the way we view children in the church, focusing on our present life together as a diverse, inclusive community of faith.

To do this, Lindeman Allen looks to the past, rereading familiar Gospel accounts with an eye to the experience of childhood in Jesus’ world, highlighting both the gifts that children brought to Jesus’ ministry as well as those they received from him.

Through this lens, she invites readers to reconsider the age and relationship of well-known and lesser-known Bible characters, including:

  • the Bethlehem shepherds
  • James and John, the two disciples who followed Jesus alongside their mother, and
  • the young boy whose lunch Jesus used to feed the five thousand.

In the process, Lindeman Allen reconsiders ministry with children today, moving away from a transactional model of imparting wisdom to children to a dialogical model of learning and serving together with children. Each chapter reads a different Gospel story in conversation with experiences of real children in the church today, bringing into focus the varied gifts that children bring in a practice of inclusive ministry. These gifts include participation, proclamation, advocacy, listening, sharing, and partnership.

Readers will grow more attuned to recognise the gifts that we each bring – children and adults – as essential members working together as one community in the body of Christ and so to share in the gift of Christ together.

“Shepherds as children? Children as full participants in worship? Kids as central followers of Jesus? This book will radically transform how you read scripture, revealing children where you’ve never noticed them, and not as bystanders but as powerful actors. And once you begin to see children – suggests biblical expert, wise pastor, and caring parent Amy Lindeman Allen – you cannot help but envision Christian community as far more inclusive than you’ve ever imagined before.” Bonnie Miller McLemore, author of Let the Children Come: Reimaging Childhood from a Christian Perspective and In the Midst of Chaos: Care of Children as Spiritual Practice
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