We have such a problem with our boys,' ..is a common refrain in many churches. The probability, though, is that boys are not actually the problem, rather our attitude to them; our ideas of what a boy really is and what he needs in order to connect with God. Over the last few years, boys have been perceived to have been under-achieving at school, a problem in our society, and disengaged from our churches. It is Carolyn Edwards' heartfelt conviction that this is because we are not meeting boys' spiritual needs. Her experience is that boys are willing to engage in the struggle to make themselves heard and seen as they really are: full of energy, fun, feeling and spirituality. In this intensely creative and practical book, Carolyn provides ten ways that boys would willingly connect with God, given the opportunity. Prompts and practical ideas help readers apply her findings to the boys they know and work with. Commendations: 'Men often dismiss Church as irrelevant because we fail to connect with them. To correct this trend we need to start by looking at boys who grow up to be men. Boys are spiritual beings - but much of organised Christianity fails to understand what makes them tick. Carolyn Edwards has undertaken some thoughtful research and come up with insightful and practical suggestions of ways to reconnect with boys. She is a practitioner and that shows as throughout the book as ideas come across as tested and tried. As the parents of four lively boys who are now grown men, we commend this book as extremely helpful and packed with good suggestions. As teachers involved in training people for leadership, we commend it as essential reading for any who are serious about engaging in the Mission of God.' Ian and Ruth Coffey 'An important contribution to the issue of boys spirituality, taking it from theoretical research, which she is well qualified to offer, to well grounded practical application, based on her many years of experience as a children's worker. Boys especially need their advocates at the present time. Carolyn Edwards offers them another supporting voice.' Ian White, Programme Leader; Children's and Youth Ministry courses, Cliff College
Slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails: Helping boys connect with God
192 pages, £8.99
Star rating: 2
As a father of five boys and someone who is fully involved in work with children and young people I was not surprised to be asked to review this book and indeed warmed to the task. However, I did not find the book easy to get into because of its ethos and methodology and the fact that, though the book is otherwise well written, we are 40 pages in before the main dish is served (Part 1 being given over to introductory matters). I can only give it a mild commendation.
Mrs Edwards is very well read and clearly highly competent in her field. She is senior lecturer in Children and Family Work at the Centre for Youth Ministry, Oxford. She also loves children. Her book grows out of an investigation into the spiritual expressions and preferences of boys ages 5-11 in three settings – an Anglican Junior church, a Scripture Union club and an RE class.
The main problem with it for me was its rather sociological approach and its lack of scriptural and theological grounding. When for example, on page 98, she wonders aloud if children’s laughter has something to do with what Jesus meant when he said we need to be like children to enter the kingdom one is concerned. A few pages later she is naively commending the visual approach of the eastern orthodox churches. On page 81 she commends more rugged and manly pictures of Jesus without ever raising the question of whether we should be making pictures of Jesus at all.
Having said all this, there are plenty of good things to be had from this book. If you go through it finding the paragraphs beginning with with a large stylised ‘?!’ you will find plenty of practical suggestions regarding working with boys in the areas of relationship and conversation, play and touch, storytelling, pain and loss, humour, creativity, silence and prayer, good deeds, healthy risk and multimedia technology. There are also potentially useful ‘Things to think about’ at the end of each of the ten main chapters of the book.