What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry (My Official Review)

wmn_banner On Saturday, I posted a “teaser post” regarding a great new resource for children’s ministry and family ministry called What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry.  I am happy to announce that, starting today, that resource is now available for free download:


UPDATE 06/14/2010 – Big News today! The print version of this great resource is finally available for purchase for a minimal price. You can go here to purchase and download it directly. If I were you though, I would check out the posts from Matthew Guevara and Amy Dolan about the release of the print copy. You might even find a discount there to use to purchase the book. If you’re looking to buy them in bulk (and why wouldn’t you?) make sure to check out Matthew’s post for information on bulk purchase discounts. Now, go order a bunch of them!

UPDATE 05/24/2010 – I posted this article a week ago today.  Since then, I have updated it a number of times to add links to blog posts continuing the conversations that this outstanding book has sparked.  I will continue to do that as more people jump in on the conversation.  I am planning to continue my series commenting on individual entries beginning tomorrow.

I found out today from a tweet by Amy Dolan that the book has been downloaded over 2,200 times in the past week.  While that is great news, my personal opinion is that it is not nearly enough!  If you work in children’s ministry, work with kids in any capacity, are a pastor, are a parent, or care about the next generation of Christians, you need to read this book!  I understand that there is also a possibility that there may be a UK version of this book.  I hope that it continues to expand around the Globe.  If you have not yet downloaded this book, click on the link above and get your copy today and make sure to give a copy to the people you know who will benefit from this resource.

The introduction of the book explains ““What matters now in children’s ministry?” This is a question that every leader in the field of children’s and family ministry answers on a daily basis through their decisions, communication, meetings, programming, curriculum, recruiting, and schedule. This is the question that underscores countless hours of time and effort by pastors, support staff, and volunteers. This is the question that gets answered every time a church opens its doors to children and families. This question matters.”  The point of this book is to solicit the answer to that one question from a variety of perspectives.

As I explained in my “teaser post” on Saturday, this book brings together 33 authors from amongst the leaders in the fields of children’s and family ministry.  Each author was asked to define, in one word, “What Matter’s Now in Children’s Ministry.”  They were then asked to expand on that one word with a short (200 words or less) explanation of their choice.  The contributors (along with the One Word they chose) are:

  • Gary Strudler (BROKEN CISTERNS)
  • Mike Shipman (COLLABORATION)
  • Liz Perraud (COMMUNITY)
  • Amy Dolan (CONFIDENCE)
  • Katey Hage (CONVERSATION)
  • Matt Guevara (DIGITAL)
  • Brianne Friberg (EMPOWERMENT)
  • Scottie May (ENCOUNTERS)
  • Jill Nelson (EVALUATING)
  • Christine Yount Jones (FAITH MILESTONES)
  • Ivy Beckwith (IMAGINATION)
  • The Lads (INFECTIOUS)
  • Henry Zonio (INGENUITY)
  • Megan Towell (JUSTICE)
  • Anthony Prince (KINGDOM)
  • Craig Johnson (LEADERSHIP)
  • Sarah Killelea (MEMORIES)
  • Todd Hampton & Sean Copley (The Timbuktoons guys) (MENTALMORPH)
  • Byron Ragains (MORE)
  • Cara Martens (ORANGE)
  • Michael Chanley (PARENTING)
  • Gina McClain (PARENTS)
  • Sam Luce (REDEMPTION)
  • Karl Bastian (RELATIONSHIPS)
  • David Staal (SAFETY)
  • Dr. Greg Carlson (SCRIPTURE)
  • Larry Shallenberger (SIGHT)
  • Rev. Sean Miller (SPACE)
  • Dr. Rob Rienow (SUFFICIENCY)
  • Kenny Conley (THE END)
  • David Wakerly (US)
  • Randy Isola (WONDER)

I was inspired, challenged and convicted by various chapters in this book.  That said, I will not go into a detailed synopsis of the book in this post.  First, the book is concise enough that you can easily read it in one sitting, and a detailed synopsis is therefore not appropriate.  Secondly, and more importantly, the purpose of this book is to spark discussions regarding the issues raised.  In the introduction the three people responsible for putting this work together (Matt Guevara, Amy Dolan and Henry Zonio) write, “Now our challenge as you engage in this resource is for you to pick a few themes that speak deeply to your heart and ministry and follow up with the contributors who submitted them. Join in the conversation. Develop those themes in your ministry. Share them with others. Use them with volunteers and staff members as a tool to answer the critical question in your own ministry context: “What matters now in MY children’s ministry?””

To that end, over the next several weeks, I plan to pick some of the authors and articles from this book and “respond” with my observations, insights and follow-up questions.  In addition to that, tomorrow I will answer the question “What Matter Now in Children’s Ministry” and provide my own 200 word or less entry.  If you’re interested, the word I have chosen is WORLDVIEW.  I’m looking forward to writing it up.  Once you have read this book, I encourage you to do the same.  If you go that route, please leave a comment here so we can see your input to this valuable question.


This is a book that is long overdue.  One of the questions that I have posed in a number of forums, as well as in a Google Wave earlier this year, is what cultural influences are impacting Children’s Ministry today.  This book covers many of those issues, and it was a joy to read.

The list of contributors and quality of the content on this book makes it a must read.  I think that anyone who works or volunteers in children’s ministry should take the time to read this book and reflect on the issues it raises.  If used properly, this book will spark conversations about children’s ministry around the world that could fundamentally change the way people do ministry at a the local church level.  I intend to give a copy to our Children’s Ministry Director and everyone who is on my team.

As people who have a passion for reaching kids with the gospel of Christ, my hope is that this book will fuel the conversation of how do we do things better, more effectively and in a more God-honoring way than we ever have before?


Let’s be honest.  I liked practically everything about this book, and we are indebted to Matt Guevara, Amy Dolan and Henry Zonio for putting it all together.  The collective knowledge, experience and insight of the group of contributors gathered together for this project is phenomenal.  The book is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment of all issues facing children’s ministry, but it does serve to start the conversation which was the intent of the book anyhow.  The depth of issues covered by the book is stunning.  I think the various contributors hit on virtually every topic that I would say matters now in children’s ministry with the possible exception of worldview which I will be writing about tomorrow.  Despite the brief nature of the treatment given to each concept, there is still an amazing amount of depth covered in the words of this book.

However, the thing I appreciate most about this book is its purpose.  Open and frank discussion is critical to success in almost any endeavor.  The success or failure those of us involved in children’s ministry has eternal impact.  This books starts the conversations that can ultimately lead to the success of our children’s ministries, and success in children’s ministry ultimately leads to an expansion of the kingdom of God.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I know that God is in control, and ultimately it is up to him who enters his kingdom and when.  However, he has called us to a stewardship over his most important asset – his children, and we owe it to him, and to them, to engage in these conversation and do all we can to honor God by serving his kids in the best way possible.

imago_badge In addition to the overall purpose and content of this books, there were also a number of very practical things which I appreciated.  The electronic pdf format of the book allowed for the inclusion of links to the authors blogs and twitter accounts.  It was great to see those and great to have the opportunity to interact further with these authors about what they have written.  Secondly, you can’t beat the price of this resource.  It is absolutely free.  The artwork is simple but stunning.  I don’t often pay much attention to that sort of thing which makes it all the more impressive that it jumped out at me in this book.  Put together by Imago, the artwork consists of solid colors overlaid with white figures representing each of the authors’ themes.  I appreciated both the simplicity and visually pleasing nature of it.  In fact, so great was my appreciation for this book that I feel compelled to point out that the font they used is my favorite font (and yes I understand what it means when I admit that I have a favorite font). 🙂


I really couldn’t find anything that I didn’t like about the book, but I decided I had to come up with something – so here it goes.

I received a link to a copy of this book a couple of days before it was officially released.  Naturally, the first thing I did was hit the print button (sorry to all you Kindle and IPad people, I still like to read from paper).  It wasn’t until I hit the print button that I saw the warning in the e-mail that this book requires an inordinate amount of ink to print.  Fortunately, I was printing it on a color laser printer, so it wasn’t so bad.  There are plans for a black and white print version that will be available starting June 14. A print version is available now at for a a minimal fee to help cover the cost of putting the publication together.  It will be is formatted slightly differently than the current version and optimized for printing.


There are a number of ways for you to join the conversation.  Comment here on this post or the posts to come over the next couple of weeks. I hope that this will serve as an opportunity to further discuss the issues raises in this valuable resource.

My understanding is that forums will be created for the discussion of this book on various platforms including Kidology and CM ConnectI will link to those forums, and any others, from this article as soon as they are created. There are forums on Kidology and CMConnect that you can use to join the conversation!  You can follow the book on Twitter now at @cmwhatmatters and find the book on Facebook at What-Matters-Now-in-Children’s-Ministry.  For all the latest buzz on the book search for #WMNKidmin on twitter.


Download Page: http://www.corycenter.org/uploads/what_matters_now.pdf

Buy the print version https://www.createspace.com/3427965

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/What-Matters-Now-in-Childrens-Ministry/119420678088440

Twitter: http://twitter.com/cmwhatmatters

CMConnect Group: Here is the new CMConnect Group

Kidology Discussion: Join the Kidology Discussion Here



The purpose of this book was to spark discussion, and there are a number of blogs out there which have tried to do just that.  These blog posts include the following:

I encourage you to check out these posts and leave your comments to engage in this important conversation.



At the time I am writing this post (Sunday afternoon), it has not yet been released to the general public.  That said, I know of a number of people who are already planning on posting reviews or stories about the book beginning Monday.  As I find them I will link them below: The release of this book was met with much fanfare and adulation (all of it well deserved if you ask me).  The following are the posts surrounding the release of this book:



There were also a number of blog posts leading up the publication.  Here are the ones I found:

You can find a link to this, and all the other articles I’ve done related to this book, on my What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry Page.


  1. thank you, wayne! your comments are wonderful – our hope all along was that this book would serve as the beginning of the conversation, and that each year we would ask ourselves the question, "what matters now?"

    i'm really looking forward to hearing more about your word "worldview!" now you've teased us!!
    My recent post what matters NOW in children’s ministry

  2. Worldview would be a great one. Looking forward to you 200 word treatment of it.
    My recent post Give away Tuesday: Free collaboration book.

  3. Thanks Sam. It's up now athttps://waynestocks.com/2010/05/18/what-matters-no… though I did have some trouble with the 200 word limit. 🙂 I loved you chapter on redemption. I hope you will expand on it sometime soon on your blog.
    My recent post What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry – Worldview