• A sought-after model and guide to a new paradigm for children's ministries
• Creative program based on research and personal experience
Struggling to offer a children's program that resonates with young families? Finding it difficult to recruit teachers and volunteers for your children's program? Want a children's ministry that is grounded in Christ's foundational teachings and relevant to the experiences of children today? This must-have guide to rethinking your children's ministry is informed and intelligent, with the lighthearted humor so helpful to working with children. Through storytelling, testimonials, and research-based creativity, you'll be inspired and energized to use your church's gifts, your children's interests, and your families' needs to develop a children's ministry that fits your church and the people in it. An appendix includes sample lesson plans, suggested Bible stories and book,
Colette Potts offers a successful model for a congregation to turn around their children's ministry program to engage the whole congregation in worship, learning, and service while partnering with parents for bridging the formation gap between Sunday morning at church and the rest of the week at home and beyond.
Read an excerpt
Foreword – Amy Cook
Chapter 1: Our Challenges
Chapter 2: Our Leap
Chapter 3: Our Sacred Spaces
Chapter 4: Our Precious Hour
Chapter 5: Our Curriculum
Chapter 6: Our Gifts
Chapter 7: Our Ministers
Chapter 8: Our Worship
Appendix A: Heartbeats
Appendix B: Suggested Bible Stories
Appendix C: Recommended Book List
"With a clear-eyed view of the challenges families and churches face, family therapist Colette Potts offers an approach to the religious formation of children that puts love first. Taking seriously children's own calling to love, Potts cleared out all the Sunday school rooms in her church and started over, developing a framework for religious formation that invited children and adults alike to search for love in unlikely places and to 'give it a little nudge.' The result is a revolutionary approach to religious formation that we have never needed more."
––Stephanie Paulsell, Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies at Harvard Divinity School
"Colette Potts combines the keen insights of a pedagogue, the hands-on experience of a parish program director, and the wise and loving heart of a parent, to guide the reader to a new understanding of what families need and what churches can––and should––offer to them."
––The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of Massachusetts
"Love First should be required reading for anyone charged with childhood faith formation in the local church. The story of St. Barnabas' journey toward meaningful and sustainable children's ministry will inspire, challenge, and unstick many churches from the 'what is' to the 'what could be.'
––The Rev. Ivy Beckwith, Ph.D., Faith Formation Minister for the United Church of Christ
"The premise of Love First: A Children's Ministry for the Whole Church is to surround children with love in the midst of their busy and over-scheduled lives. Here is the in-depth story of how Saint Barnabas Memorial Church investigated, listened, and re-wove children's ministry into the very life of the parish. Colette Potts writes with a keen sense of how churches work and how children and families engage church."
––The Lifelong Learning Team at Virginia Theological Seminary
"Love First does not just teach us how to teach about love. It reminds us of love's power, versatility, and actual ability to change the world. And Colette Potts does all of this in the most charming, readable, and helpful way.
––Vanessa Zoltan, co-host of Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast
"Colette Potts knows exactly what it takes to have a thriving children's ministry. Take advantage of her wisdom and experience to make sure your congregation is doing all it can to put love first.
––Katherine Gould, Christian Formation Director at Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
"There's no denying it––despite our best efforts, many families we hope to reach in ministry are unmoved by our message, and sporadic attendance makes it nearly impossible to form real relationships and foster lasting transformation. So we exhaust ourselves with new approaches and more programs. Love First is a brave call to action for us all––to strip it all back to Jesus' simple and profound message of love. More a master plan than a curriculum, Love First will transform and refresh the way you look at ministry to children and families."
––Catherine Montgomery, Director of Children's Formation and Family Ministries at Christ Episcopal Church, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
"This is a game changer. As fewer families make time for Christian education programs that struggle to connect Bible stories with children's experience, Colette Potts shows us how to focus on love, give parents the help they need and want, and energize the whole church. Practical and wise, Love First is just what our churches need now."
––Lizabeth Bougie, Director of Resource Center for Churches in Minneapolis