Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with author Brian Dembowczyk about his new book, Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry.
WS: Who did you have in mind when you wrote Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry?
BD: Kids pastors, ministers, and directors are the most natural audiences, but this is not a book just for them. I hope senior pastors would also read this book so they can embrace an enlarged vision for kids ministry. We need pastors to champion our kids ministries. At the same time, kids teachers and leaders in the trenches would benefit from reading it as well. That is one of the reasons we included questions for reflection and discussion at the end of each main section—we hope that this book serves as a helpful team-building resource.
WS: Why do we need another kids ministry book?
BD: I hope that this book stands out in how it encourages and motivates churches to raise the bar for kids ministry. I am concerned that while churches won’t say this, many act as if kids ministry is about keeping kids entertained while mixing in some good Bible teaching.
There’s nothing wrong with our kids having fun and certainly Bible teaching is critical, but I have to believe that God’s plan is far greater than that! I believe that God sees our kids as an essential part of the church right now—not just as the church of tomorrow. Our kids ministries need to reflect that. We need to grasp the weightiness of our kids ministries and remember that we are training our kids as missionaries in their context right now. I hope that Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry casts a compelling vision of what that looks like.
WS: What is the main idea of the book?
BD: Our kids desperately need the gospel. We need to teach our kids the fullness and beauty of the gospel in age-appropriate ways without watering it down and position them to yield to the work of the Holy Spirit as He transforms them by the gospel and sends them out to join Christ on His mission right now. This is what I believe we have missed too often resulting in the staggering dropout rate and rampant legalistic Christian moralism in the church.
WS: What are the distinctives of a gospel-centered ministry?
BD: There are five core distinctives of a gospel-centered ministry, which provide the basic structure of the book.
- Gospel teaching: showing kids that the Bible is one gospel story of Jesus.
- Gospel transformation: focusing on a changed heart that leads to changed living.
- Gospel mission: encouraging and equipping kids to be on mission now.
- Gospel leaders: demonstrating gospel change and mission to our kids.
- Gospel parents: partnering with parents and families to help them in their role as primary disciplers.
WS: What is your hope for this book?
BD: I almost walked away from the church in college because I grew up in a legalistic Christian moralism context. My hope is that kids leaders and pastors read this book and do whatever they can to anchor their ministries on the gospel so that no kid walks away again—because they see the beauty of Christ and want to follow Him with joy no matter what.
Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry is available for purchase HERE!
William Summey is the Publishing Team Leader for ParentLife, kids devotionals, and short-term products. He is a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Vanderbilt University. William lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Christy, and two boys.