Book Review: The Day When God Made Church

This year, our church tried out having different people volunteer for a month of children’s church teaching.  I got the privilege of spending May with the kids and it was such a joy!  The group of kids in our church is small, but mighty, full of good questions and a hunger to know God. It has truly been a gift to spend time with them. Pentecost is coming up this Sunday, but we won’t have children’s church then, so I went ahead and read this book to them a week ago in preparation for celebrating the Feast of Pentecost this Sunday.

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There are so many things I love about The Day When God Made Church: the careful, vivid storytelling; the beautiful, fun illustrations; and the author’s’ word choice and phrasing, to name a few.  I was immediately drawn to the bright colors on the cover, and the illustrations throughout the book did not disappoint.  The bold style of the illustrations served to draw the children into the story and the detailed images acted as wonderful visual aids to actually understanding the story as well, illustrating different kinds of speech, rushing winds, and the waters of baptism.

The writing is also excellent! The author has achieved a well-crafted, first-person retelling of Acts 2, similar to what you would expect to find in a children’s storybook Bible.  I especially love the idea of using this book at church, since many families may already have the story of Pentecost covered in a similar way in their favorite children’s Bible at home.

I do want to point out that many retellings of the Pentecost story that I have read place a large amount of emphasis on being sent on mission, telling others about Jesus. Even the story in Acts 2 makes several mentions of those who were “added to their number.”  This book does not do that. The idea of mission is vaguely referenced a few times, but this  book focuses primarily on the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the gathering of God’s people, the church.  I don’t think it would be hard to make that connection for/with children, but I think it does need to be made, although I do like that it isn’t the main focus of this book.  I like that the book invites the child to marvel at the way the Holy Spirit gathers his people to do his work.  I just think that it could be more explicit that his work is not only caring for one another, but also being sent out on mission to the world in the power of his Holy Spirit.

That aside, the coupling of solid Biblical storytelling and eye-catching illustrations makes The Day When God Made Church an excellent choice for introducing your young children to the story of Pentecost.

Here’s an excerpt (the part I can’t read without choking back tears):

“Don’t be surprised if you all start to preach and dream, too. 

Young and old, men and women– we are all called to something NEW. 

God is changing us so we can see old things in a new way.” 

When I read this to the children in children’s church, I brought cupcakes and  hung a happy birthday sign. I asked the kids to try to figure out whose birthday we were going to be celebrating.  They were especially attentive to the story as I read and eager to discuss afterwards.  We finished up our lesson by making paper plate doves that I will attach orange ribbons to and return to the children on Pentecost so they can wave them around during worship. (I used this book with a group of kids ages 4-11, and it seemed to work well for all of them.)

* I received a copy of The Day When God Made the Church from Paraclete Press in exchange for my honest review.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. But you don’t have to take my word for it.  If you follow the link above, you can preview the whole book on the Paraclete Press website. 

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