I’ve said before that I think familiarizing our kids with church history is important.
I was taught little to no church history growing up, beyond a cursory mention of major events like the Reformation in my history textbooks. I want my kids to have more than just this passing knowledge. I think familiarity with the major figures and events in the history of the church is essential to seeing and understanding God’s “one story” for all of history. It’s also incredibly valuable to help them establish a stable faith that isn’t blown to and fro by every new whim that comes along. And, it’s essential to understanding how we got where we are now. So, since they were very young, I’ve spent time searching out and collecting resources to make sure they’re aware of the rich heritage of our beliefs.
God’s Story: A Student’s Guide to Church History by Brian Cosby is one such resource that recently came my way. This little book is part of the “A Student’s Guide” series published by Christian Focus Publications and covers the span of church history from its Old Testament roots to the present day.
God’s Story begins with a discussion of four reasons to study church history:
- It helps explain our identity
- It helps explain the present
- It guards us from repeating its mistakes
- It testifies to God’s powerful working as HIS STORY
Funny how these reasons correspond almost exactly with my reasons for wanting to teach this stuff to my kids. 🙂
From this foundation, author Brian Cosby moves into an explanation of the Old Testament roots of the church, with a quick trip through the major OT events and how they all point to the coming Messiah and God’s plan to redeem a people for Himself. From there, he moves through the New Testament church, apostolic fathers, and early creeds and councils, giving brief, understandable explanations of some of the early heresies like Gnosticism and Arianism. The book continues with an overview of the Middle Ages, the Reformation (both Continental and English), the Enlightenment and Great Awakening, and finally modern liberalism and fundamentalism. The chapters are fairly short, but still rich in content! Each one ends with several discussion questions that encourage the reader to think critically about the events and how and why they’re relevant to us now.
This format – a survey of the broad sweep of history – is an excellent way to show how all of the seemingly disconnected events of history are really part of God’s one big story of redemption. The engaging, conversational tone is just right for teens. In fact, I think a mature junior high age student could also gain from this book, especially if read and discussed with a parent. This would make a great study for a parent and child to read and discuss together, or to use in a group setting, although it will work equally well as an individual study too.
The book is a quick read and is definitely intended as an introductory, bird’s eye overview of the sweep of God’s story, meant to catch student’s attention and encourage delving deeper. As the author says in the introduction:
It is my hope that this brief primer will serve to whet your appetite for a deeper and more extensive study of God’s story.
Check out the trailer:
Kudos to Christian Focus and Dr. Brian Cosby for this valuable contribution to the pool of resources available to parents, teachers, and youth leaders! I love seeing resources aimed at young people that are not only engaging and readable, but theologically rich, encouraging them to go deeper, and clearly teaching God’s story of redemption woven through all of history.
I’m glad to have God’s Story in my discipleship toolbox for our family.
If you’re looking for a resource to go along with your homeschool history program for the new school year, or a study to read and discuss with your teen or youth group, it would make a great choice!
For younger students, you might consider The Church History ABCs.
Disclaimer: I was provided with an electronic copy of this title free of charge for review purposes through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.