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The Gifts They Bring

How Children in the Gospels Can Shape Inclusive Ministry

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Westminster John Knox Press
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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. In The Gifts They Bring, New Testament 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 recognize 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.

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Amy Lindeman Allen is Associate Professor of New Testament at Christian Theological Seminary (Disciples of Christ) and an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She has served in congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Indiana. She is the author of For Theirs Is the Kingdom: Inclusion and Participation of Children in the Gospel according to Luke.

The Gifts They Bri...
How Children in th...
by Westminster John Knox Press

"This is biblical scholarship and practical theology at its best. Allen helps us see and hear the children who were among Jesus’ first disciples in the gospels as well as the children who we must recognize as Jesus’ disciples in our churches today." - Russell W. Dalton, Professor of Religious Education, Brite Divinity School

"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

"The church has long focused on ministry to children. In this pioneering work, Amy Lindeman Allen invites the church to relate to children as contributing participants. Allen introduces a child-centered approach to interpreting the Bible and calls attention to children as agents of ministry who encourage churches towards becoming ever more inclusive communities." - Ronald J. Allen, Professor of Preaching, and Gospels and Letters, Christian Theological Seminary

"This book is a gift! Dr. Allen convenes academic scholarship, the witness of Holy Scripture, and the life experiences of human communities to show us what is hidden in plain sight – the realm of God is made known to the world through children. Read, remember, and rejoice!" - Kurt Kusserow, Bishop, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

"Allen’s fresh biblical scholarship illuminates the children in Jesus' life and ministry, and paints a vision of multigenerational ministry that celebrates and incorporates all that children offer the entire body. I am eager for my faith community to explore the gifts of conversations and ministries with children offered here." - Judith Hoch Wray, biblical scholar, teacher, and writer

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