Recommendations for Middle School Level Church History?

Discussion in 'Church History' started by sc_q_jayce, May 17, 2019.

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  1. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi everyone,

    I'm working on a curriculum this fall for our Middle School kids. They wanted me to teach on why we are what we are: Christian, Protestant, Reformed, Presbyterian, PCA, etc. I decided that a good way to teach this is to frame church history around major controversies and challenges to the church throughout history. I've been looking for a book that would be accessible to a middle school student but still substantial.

    So far in my searches I've been thinking about:

    Christian History Made Easy, Timothy Paul Jones
    Church History in Plain Language, Bruce Shelley
    Church History 101: The Highlights of Twenty Centuries, Sinclair Ferguson, Joel Beeke, Michael Haykin
    Church History: An Essential Guide, Justo Gonzalez
    Pocket History of the Church, D. Jeffrey Bingham
    Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, Mark Noll
    Edited to add: 50 World Changing Events in Christian History, Earl Blackburn

    Does anyone have any thoughts or advice for choosing a supplemental book? I'd like to purchase a copy for every student (5-10 students) for them to have as a reference and to assign reading throughout the week.

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  2. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    This would be the best introduction for a younger crowd. I would then progress onto these two in the following order:

    These may be of interest as well:
  3. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    The Peril and Peace series may be out of print? This kind of story-telling approach is most likely to gain the imagination of the age group you've mentioned. "Read this and we'll discuss it" doesn't sound promising. See if you can make each week an encapsulation of a particular character or event. I've used the Bruce Shelley book as a resource in home schooling and found it particularly helpful in explaining the east/west split and distinctions of the eastern church. Since we were meeting every day, I could incorporate readings. For weekly sessions, I'd likely have relevant sections fresh in my mind to draw from in class examples and discussions.
  4. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Good thoughts, Jean! I'm definitely not going to simply have them read and discuss, but I did want a book that they could use to study on their own for some homework I might assign and I would try to emphasize some of the drama behind the history, so to speak! That's great advice and I'll definitely keep it in mind.
  5. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I agree. And that is an excellent series (Peril and Peace being the title of the first book in a five-book series). The books may be a bit too young if your middle schoolers are on the older side or are the studious sort, but may be at just the right level if your students are young or not so studious.

    My kids both read Michael Reeves' The Unquenchable Flame at around that age and it made a great impression on them. It shows why doctrine matters and makes you cheer for those doctrines that matter most. But that book is not a survey of all of church history; rather, it focuses on the Reformation and Puritan eras. Also, my kids are both strong readers and that book may be too advanced for other middle schoolers. My son was assigned it for a college class last year.
  6. BottleOfTears

    BottleOfTears Puritan Board Freshman

    This is a wonderful book, being both an interesting and exciting read.

    That said, I am also unsure of how well kids in middle school would engage with it. It's very fun, but maybe a bit too in-depth if they don't have an especial interest in reading.
  7. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    The Church In History by B. K. Kuiper is excellent.
  8. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    This is the one I was going to recommend as a good one-volume work written from a thoroughly Reformed perspective. For more detail, but still eminently understandable is the set by Nick Needham called 2000 Years of Christ's Power.
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  9. Jake

    Jake Puritan Board Junior

    This wouldn't be comprehensive, but I was very impressed with this book:

    It's written by a seminary professor at Western Seminary (Conservative Baptist) and goes through major heresies throughout church history. It does a great job of explaining them and showing the significance of them, while also comparing them to superheros. I'm not a superhero fan, but I still thought he did a really good job showing the practical implications to our understanding of Christ that would come from heresies from even some less common heresies: (TOC)

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