Becoming Like a Child

The Curiosity of Maturity Beyond the Norm

Jerome W. Berryman

Jan/2017, 224 Pages, PAPERBACK, 6 x 9

ISBN-13: 9780819233233



• A theological summary of Jerome W. Berryman's understanding of Christian theology and practice through the lens of childhood
• Invites us to engage in the creative process, live creative, authentic, playful lives

Berryman invites the reader into a creative process that explores what it means to be spiritually mature, starting with Jesus' injunction to "become like a child." What does this mean at the literal level? the figurative level? the mystical level? the ethical level? The structure of the process parallels the book's organization and the structure of Christian worship, as well as the arc of life itself. The steps on this journey begin when we enter, and the world of childlike maturity opens to us as we respond with inarticulate wonder and gratitude.

This book, like The Spiritual Guidance of Children, is less academic and has broader scope than Children and the Theologians. Berryman includes stories and examples from his long career working with children, which adds warmth and appeal to the book. He has described this volume as his "summary, theological statement."

Read a review from the Godly Play Foundation
Read an excerpt

Jerome W. Berryman is the founder of Godly Play and has wide experience working with children ages 2-18. Writer, lecturer and workshop leader, Rev. Berryman is Senior Fellow of the Center for the Theology of Childhood. He is the author of The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Teaching Godly Play, Children and the Theologians, and The Spiritual Guidance of Children: Montessori, Godly Play and the Future.

Introduction: Maturity beyond the Norm

1. Happiness and Maturity beyond the Norm: The Child/Adult Paradox
2. Considering Children as Concepts: A Literal View of Jesus' Saying
3. Imagining Children as Parables: A Figurative View of Jesus' Saying
4. The Creator/creator Affinity: A Mystical View of Jesus' Saying
5. How Then Shall We Live? An Ethical View of Jesus' Saying
6. A Stable Nativity: Responding to Jesus' Creation


“The quality of Jerome Berryman’s scholarship, insight, and vision about childhood’s theological and spiritual nature is without equal. In this one book, the reader will find rewards and challenges that could not be provided by reading a hundred other books in this field.”
––Dr. Rebecca Nye, researcher, consultant, and trainer in the field of children’s spirituality and author of Children’s Spirituality: What It Is and Why It Matters
“Jerome Berryman turns our view of God upside down and makes us wonder how things would be if God were not the aloof, distant, bearded patriarch but were in truth a wide-eyed, ingenuous, trusting child. Just imagine––and be lost in wonder.”
––The Reverend Dr. Samuel Wells, Vicar, St. Martin in the Fields, London

“If nothing else, this book will change your view of children and the Kingdom of God. And that’s a good thing.”
––Scottie May, PhD, Associate Professor Emerita, Department of Christian Formation and Ministry, Wheaton College

“This brilliant explication of scripture using psychology, theology, history, and story opens up new ways of thinking about processes of faith formation. This book will challenge your mind and expand your thinking and practice around faith formation for all ages.”
––The Reverend Dr. Ivy Beckwith, Faith Formation Team Leader, United Church of Christ and co-author of Children’s Ministry in the Way of Jesus

“This book is testament to Berryman’s life work of attending to children, their unique voices and faces, and the hope each child brings to the world.”
––Dr. David Jensen, Academic Dean at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

“Jerome Berryman’s newest book is a thoughtful and thorough academic exploration of ‘becoming like a child’ made all the more compelling because it is also an exquisite demonstration of what it looks like to creatively engage the world as a mature Christian today.”
––Mary Hunter Rouse, Godly Play trainer and religion teacher at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Atlanta, Georgia

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  • Spirituality
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Godly Play

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