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Discipleship for Every Stage of Life

Understanding Christian Formation in Light of Human Development

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The field of life span development in psychology has much to offer those engaged in making disciples, and Chris Kiesling brings those insights to bear in this volume. He appropriates the most useful observations from this discipline in light of biblical teaching.

Drawing on more than twenty-five years of experience teaching faith development topics in academic and local church settings, Kiesling assembles a toolkit that will help those in ministry think comprehensively about discipleship at every stage of life. Taking into account physical, cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of human development from infancy through older adulthood, Kiesling guides readers in making practical use of these insights in churches and educational settings.

Pastors, ministry leaders, and educators will benefit from this treatment, which brings cutting-edge findings from the social sciences into dialogue with Scripture, theology, and practical ministry.

1. Womb and Infancy: Origins of Faith and Belief
2. Early Childhood: Parenting as Image Bearing
3. Middle Childhood: New Settings, Skills, and Social Pressures
4. Adolescence: Sharing the Power of Creation
5. Young Adulthood: The Script to Narrate One's Life
6. Middle Adulthood: Finding Practices Sufficient to Sustain
7. Late Adulthood: Retirement, Relinquishment, and the Spirituality of Losing Life


"By linking developmental theory with profound insights from biblical studies, theology, and spiritual formation, Chris Kiesling provides a thorough and inspiring picture of Christian discipleship across the life span. Filled with practical ideas for pastors, parents, clinicians, and educators, Discipleship for Every Stage of Life offers clear pathways for helping people of all ages encounter Jesus in all of life. This is my new go-to resource for connecting contemporary human development with the timeless wisdom of the Christian faith."

David Setran, Price-LeBar Professor of Christian Formation and Ministry, Wheaton College

"Chris Kiesling insightfully indicates how Christian formation can take place within stages of human development. The author has a deep understanding of both Christian ministry and the various psychological dimensions of human development. Discipleship for Every Stage of Life is well-documented and engaging as Kiesling provides personal examples and stories that illustrate how Christian formation can take place in different developmental stages. This book will be an invaluable resource for those working in or preparing for Christian ministry. We strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to know how churches can most effectively minister to the formational and developmental needs of their members."

Jack and Judith Balswick, retired senior faculty, School of Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Kiesling provides a comprehensive look at faith formation across the human development life cycle, weaving together social science and the science of human development with biblical and theological understanding. The result is a well-informed, thoughtful, and practical resource. Whether read by a parent or a pastor, this work will help inform and inspire the intentional faith formation of infants through senior adults."

Colleen Derr, president, Eastern Nazarene College

"In this thorough engagement with lifespan development studies, Kiesling advances the work of interpreting the social sciences as a tool for pursuing the way of Christ. To that end, his call for Christians to grow in 'moving from context to text' is apt, and his demonstration of doing so is deft. Here is the fruit of careful research and decades of faithful discipleship ministry. Readers seeking to be informed will benefit significantly. Readers willing to be spurred on will benefit abundantly."

John David Trentham, associate professor of discipleship and leadership, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; editor in chief, Christian Education Journal

"Discipleship for Every Stage of Life could be written only by a senior scholar who has rich life experience as both a minister and a Christian educator. Kiesling has spent decades integrating insights from secular life span development theory with biblical and theological principles. He brings these fields together without simply tacking a truth from human development onto a biblical teaching or simply baptizing developmental insights. His careful work provides ministers and Christian educators with a nuanced, comprehensive book to aid us in our work."

Holly Allen, retired professor of Christian ministries, Lipscomb University; coauthor of Intergenerational Christian Formation; author of Forming Resilient Children

"Kudos to Chris Kiesling! Discipleship for Every Stage of Life is a treasure for academics and church leaders. He has filled an enormous gap in the literature for life span disciple making by combining insights from theology, theory, and practical ministry in a comprehensive and engaging text that will be helpful to present and future ministry leaders for years to come. Thank you, Dr. Kiesling, for recognizing that discipleship is a lifetime adventure!"

Chris Shirley, dean, School of Educational Ministries, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

The Author

  1. Chris A. Kiesling

    Chris A. Kiesling

    Chris A. Kiesling (PhD, Texas Tech University) is professor of human development and Christian discipleship at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. Ordained as an elder in the United Methodist Church, he has served as a pastor and a campus...

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