On October 1, Shift by Brian Haynes embarked on a book blog tour through the blogosphere. You can check out a list of destinations here. Christine Yount has also been blogging about the book blog tour over at the childrensministry.com blog. Today, Shift takes a stop at Elemental Children’s Ministry!
In Shift, Brian Haynes shares the family ministry strategy of Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, TX where he is an associate pastor overseeing spiritual formation. The strategy is focused on helping families progress through seven different milestones that are common to many families. The milestones are:
- Baby Dedication
- Preparing for Adolescence
- Commitment to Purity
- Passage to Adulthood
- High School Graduation
- Life in Christ
Brian describes the what each stage signifies, who should be the “milestone champion,” and what these milestones look like at his church. In addition to that, Brian begins the book with his journey to a realization that families need to be primary when it comes to spiritual formation. He uses the ever-popular Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as the “blueprint” for true family-centered spiritual formation.
While Brian does outline what is done at his church in helping families progress through the milestones by hosting biannual parenting conferences which have classes to prepare parents for the milestones as well as the support material they offer, Brian does tell the reader to take the principles and apply them to their own church. This is one of the things I really appreciated about Brian’s book: he doesn’t want people to simply photocopy the specific ways his church applies the princples in the book. [With some guidance from Christine Yount-Jones via her blog post about this review, I have reworded my original comment to more accurately communicate my understaning of Brian Haynes' encouragement for churches to adapt the principles he writes about in his book. Here is the original sentence: "Brian readily admits that what works in his church probably won't work in other churches."]
I appreciated the approach Brian took to family ministry by using the milestones as guide markers for families to use along the way. I definitely could see adapting that idea to give families at my church some sort of structure to how they are approaching spiritual formation within their families. It is also a great way for the entire church to understand how it can be involved along the way in supporting families as they grow their children.
There were a couple of things that I felt were lacking in the book, though. While Brian kept inferring to the involvement of the church community in child spiritual formation, I got the feeling that the Legacy Milestones approach portrayed in the book was very nuclear family-centric. There was little about the role of the entire church community in the lives of children along the way. They may do a better job of integrating that at Kingsland than is portrayed in the book, but I think church community is crucial to the spiritual development of children and deserves more attention in family ministry resources.
Another issue I had with the approach in the book was referring to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as some sort of Biblical blueprint for family spiritual formation. I know that I am probably stepping out on my own here, but I think the children’s and family ministry worlds have put too much emphasis on this one passage. This passage is about an entire community/village passing on faith to it’s children organically. I don’t think it speaks specifically to parents as much as it does to entire generations.
All in all, though, I do think Shift is a great resource for those dealing with children and families. It provides yet another approach to helping families positively affect the spiritual formation of their children intentionally.
If you are interested in checking out more about Shift and are interested in downloading a preview chapter, click here.