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Greenhouses of Hope: Congregations Growing Young Leaders Who Will Change the World Paperback – November 12, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


This collection of essays by young church folk is a primer on how to recover the vitality and fidelity of the church. These writers are deeply grounded in gospel hope, passionate about gospel inclusiveness, and convinced of a people-to-people gospel ministry. The “bottom up” perspective of this book is one to which attention must be paid. (Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary)

There are no quick fixes or magic programs in good youth ministry, just a cloud of witnesses of unique communities of faith all using their own special quirks, their context and their gifts to cultivate a sense of God's call. This rich mix of stories from across the church will encourage you to find your own path in this crucial work. Refreshingly nonformulaic and unique, this collection feels like the messy work of the Holy Spirit. (Lillian Daniel, First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ)

Where better for the church to find a fresh imagination for ministry than to stop, look, and listen to the words and lives of young people? And where better for young people in an age of isolation and disconnect to find a coherent life than in a worshiping, serving congregation? The authors invite us here into the language and practices of diverse congregations across the United States in which young people have a place to find themselves and their vocations, and having given us a sense of what it’s like to be a young person in this congregation, provoke us to discover possibilities in our own. (Thomas E. Frank, Wake Forest University)

As you turn the pages, the stories in Greenhouses of Hope will nourish you and your ministry. From each context and setting, the voices call out to us and inspire us to cultivate meaningful, intergenerational connection with young adults. But it doesn’t just stop with narratives of what’s happening in other churches. This book also provides vital tools, probing questions, and significant resources to grow hope in your own community. (Carol Howard Merritt, author of "Tribal Church" and "Reframing Hope")

This timely, vital and well-written book shatters two destructive myths: that the current generation of young adults lacks moorings, purpose and passion; and that mainline churches are doomed because of their failure to connect with the young. Read a few chapters, and you will feel a new sense of hope for the church and the world. Read the whole book and you will have a set of well-tested "greenhouse" approaches to growing young adults who can help all of us flourish in this struggling world. (Parker J. Palmer, author of "Let Your Life Speak" and "The Courage to Teach")

About the Author

Dori Baker joined The Fund for Theological Education as scholar-in-residence to the Calling Congregations in 2008 after a decade of teaching practical theology at various seminaries. Dori is the author of Doing Girlfriend Theology: God-Talk with Young Women and the forthcoming Kick Off Your Flip-Flops: A Barefoot Guide to Awakening Our Purpose. Dori is an ordained United Methodist elder who served congregations before receiving her Ph.D in religious and theological studies from Northwestern University.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (November 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566994098
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566994095
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Dori Grinenko Baker has cobbled together a selection of essays on Christian congregations that have freed themselves "to experiment with both newly imagined and time-honored ways of following the path of Jesus," a phenomenon she gives the name "Greenhouses of Hope. (2) Thus, each chapter is an essay from someone in each congregation's community who can write from such an experience and offer insight into how their context came about, what has worked, what hasn't worked, and how others might be inspired to try something similar. In a way, it's a collection of examples of ways to do meaningful ministry, as if each writer offers, "This worked for us and there might be inspiration here for you" and invites the reader to come and see.

The faith communities explored here are all very different than the traditional-style Christian congregations I grew up in and readers must be open to learning about contexts and cultures outside of their own. In fact, Chapter 2 describes precisely this situation in "Staying Awake: When God moments echo in community" as as United Methodist Church must reconcile the demographics of persons within its doors with the different demographics of those immediately outside to understand how unity might occur in healthy, powerful ways through ministries such as mission trips (spoiler alert: it totally does!). Persons who are interested in congregations seeking to be LGBT allies may be interested in Chapter 6, "Calling Amid Conflict: What happens to the vocations of youth when congregations fight?" I also found it helpful to review a set of processing questions at the end of each essay to more pointedly reflect on what I just read so I might apply it better to my own context.
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