Book review - A Gospel for All Ages by David Csinos

23 April 2024

Book review - A Gospel for All Ages by David Csinos Image

By Jesse Caulfield, Pastor at Emmanuel Uniting Church (Enoggera)

David Csinos’ A Gospel for All Ages is not just a book on preaching—although it encompasses that—nor is it a book on children’s discipleship—although it certainly is! Rather, as the title suggests, this is a work that combines theoretical and applied knowledge accumulated through the lived experiences of intergenerational practitioners, advocating for and illustrating the benefit of all-age worship and the corporate transformation of God’s people through intergenerational preaching.

The book is divided into three parts, which successively expand upon each other. At the end of each chapter, practical questions and further resources are provided – making this a useful handbook.

In part 1, Csinos surveys the landscape of church practices in our Western context, seeking to illustrate why and how we are at a place of generational divide and often find our leaders prioritising adult involvement and participation in church over and against youth and children, none more so than in the sermon. He poses the question, “What is the purpose of preaching?” and shows that the preaching moment is ultimately where we make meaning together, and so are corporately and individually transformed by the gospel.

“When we preach the gospel, we preach a God who is present in our proclamation, a God who meets us – the entire community – as we hear, wrestle with, and respond to the realm of God that has come near.” (Csinos, 63)[1]

Here, Csinos helpfully unpacks what he terms an intergenerational homiletic. He contends that for a genuinely transformational encounter with the God who is present in the proclamation to occur, everyone of all ages is actively participating in both the process and the proclamation. In paraphrase, how do we allow those who are often seen but not heard to have a voice – a voice that is not just ‘tolerated’ but welcomed, invited and celebrated? A time and place where everyone shares and everyone is able to learn from everyone; adults from children and children from adults ... together.

He provides a framework (eight hallmarks) for intergenerational preaching, which neatly rounds out the first part of the book. This leaves the reader eager to swim out beyond the theory and dive deep into the waters of intergenerational preaching.

In part two, Csinos provides direct input from a team of intergenerational practitioners (dubbed the Intergen Avengers!) to provide windows into how this theory plays out in the crucible of worship in their own churches. I found this hugely insightful in thinking through the questions of ‘so how does this work?’, with a plethora of ‘ooh, we could do that in our church’, occurring along the way!

Part two unpacks all age preaching through chapters on interpreting together, speaking the gospel together and experiencing together. For anyone who knows me - or what is now a regular feature of the worshipping life of Emmanuel- the Lego lectionary (and the general use of Lego in various aspects of our church life) had me exclaiming out loud, yes! How we interpret scripture and frame a message by inviting all to participate both in the planning and delivery stages of proclamation using tactile elements (like Lego) is a huge plus. Doing this, however, is sure to ruffle the feathers of those who hold to a traditional view of not just a sermon = monologue but an authoritative (trained) person having to do all the speaking.

To be clear, Csinos isn’t throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The sermon aspect of the service is still structured and planned – but instead of being the domain of the one ministry professional, it now rests with the many who provide both input in the exegesis and the planning, as well as the delivery, which allows all people, altogether, to make meaning through the preaching moment. This then invites people in creative arts to collaborate and participate in ways of gospelizing, which are authentic and revelatory.

The book speaks to normalizing practices, which are explicated in part one and illustrated in part two. It concludes with a chapter reflecting on the disruptors of this process (such as COVID-19).

I would recommend this book to those who are, firstly, preachers. If you are a regular preacher at your church or a lay preacher and want to think through what options there are beyond a monologue / didactic sermon targeted at one particular (age) group, then grab a copy.  I would recommend this also to those in the leadership of a church, and well, everyone else in between, as if you’re like me and you’ve sat and listened to a monologue sermon and watched those around drift off and thought, there has to be a better way...

[1]              Csinos, David. A gospel for all ages. Fortress Press: Minneapolis 2022, 63.


Jesse Caulfield is married to Lisa, and together, they have two children – Lucas and Hannah, who provide ongoing inspiration for how we grow disciples of people of all ages together. He loves Lego and often finds ways to include it in the life of the church in many and various ways. He likes good coffee, running along bush trails and camping trips to the beach or national park.

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