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The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry Paperback – September 18, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book has much to commend itself. It both offers fresh approaches to issues the church has thought about often, and addresses new areas about which the church has not thought enough. . . . Having read this book and absorbed the depth and vision the authors present, I find myself hopeful. . . . If youth ministry is the research and development department to the church, then this product is ready to launch for the sake of the world." (Philip L. Ruge-Jones, Word & World, 33/3, Summer 2013)

"It is time to turn to theological substance and faith formation. This book talks about why this is true, and more important, it demonstrates how it may be done. The closing postscript on youth ministry as practical theology is worth the price of admission." (The Christian Century, October 17, 2012)

"Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean invite you to envision youth ministries full of practical theologians, addressing the deep questions of life with a wonderfully adolescent mix of idealism, cynicism, and prophetic intolerance for hypocrisy." (Youth & Discipleship Leadership, Summer 2012)

"Root and Dean invite readers to envision youth ministries full of practical theologians, addressing the deep questions of life with a wonderfully adolescent mix of idealism, cynicism, and prophetic intolerance for hypocrisy." (YouthWorker Journal, July/August 2011)

"The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry is a practical theology winner. Newcomers to practical theology will applaud its interplay of experience, reflection and action. Veterans to the field will give its masterful synergy of breadth and depth a standing ovation." (Kara Powell, executive director, Fuller Youth Institute, Fuller Theological Seminary)

"I am euphoric over Kenda Creasy Dean and Andrew Root's book, The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry. We have been perplexed by decades of accumulating and overwhelming data indicating that the Christian church in North America is failing to form disciples among adolescents who stay connected to their churches. Root and Dean skillfully illustrate the essential role practical theology plays as an imperative correction toward authentic Christian formation of young people. The authors describe and advocate for a theological turn that will not only prove to be a key factor in transforming the way we engage youth ministry but also result in widespread ecclesial change. Today's young adults are eager to engage in deep theological reflection that allows them to wrestle with the issues that can truly bring meaning to their lives. The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry is a seminal work that will stir up the prophetic imagination of youth workers." (Mike King, president of Youthfront and author of Presence-Centered Youth Ministry)

"An important step in the right direction. Who says teenagers can't understand the theological thrust of, say, Karl Barth? They can and they must." (Christian Smith, University of Notre Dame, author of Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers)

About the Author

Andrew Root (Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is in the Baalson Olson Chair as associate professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary (St. Paul, MN). A former Young Life staffworker, he has served in churches and social service agencies as a youth outreach associate and a gang prevention counselor.

Kenda Creasy Dean is an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (United Methodist) and professor of youth, church and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she works closely with the Institute for Youth Ministry. She is the author of several books, including OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook, Practicing Passion, The God-Bearing Life and Almost Christian.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (September 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838257
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ben kerns on September 15, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Get Out Your Dictionary:

Over the last ten years youth ministry has been gaining in street credibility among those in professional ministry. There is finally a critical mass of people who see youth ministry as a legitimate ministry calling, deserving of a proper education, salary, and in some cases even a pension.

Seminaries like Fuller have had a long tradition of elevating student ministry and seeking to educate those people who have chosen to pour their lives into adolescents. Their youth ministry blog is one of my favorite, thoughtful resources.

Because of the hard work by many before us, we are now in a time of legitimate writing and education for those of us in youth ministry. Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean are on the forefront of this theological discussion around the context and practice of youth ministry. And this is exactly the topic they address in their recent book, The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry.

This book is not for the faint at heart or the casual reader. Root and Dean have put together a seminary-level textbook on practical theology, and approaching it as anything less would leave the reader in the dust. So if you are ready to go swimming in the deep end, pour yourself some coffee, find a nice quiet place that inspires learning, (like a library), and jump in!

Worth The Read:

The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry is the best deal on the internet. If you were to take this class at Princeton Seminary it would cost well over $1000, yet this book can be yours on amazon.com for $11.02. Seriously, that is the cheapest street cred ever for your library. But more than just a great deal, it is a thick book, deserving a thoughtful reading; it's compelling, challenging, and sometimes even frustrating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Justin Farley on October 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
I would highly recommend Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean's "The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry." I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy in a special pre-release directly from the publisher for review purposes. You can purchase a paperback copy for under $11 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Theological-Turn-Youth-Ministry/dp/0830838252/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318738188&sr=8-1) or directly from the publisher at [...]
My favorite chapter was the fourteenth and was titled "Proclaiming Salvation." In it, the author describes the story of Paul and Silas' interaction with the slave girl as it relates to salvation and the formation of self.

The Bible reads, "As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, 'These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.' And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, 'I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.' And it came out that very hour" (Acts 16:16-18, ESV).

The authors write, "A detail worth noting: it is the girl, not Paul or Silas, who proclaims that salvation is afoot. The presence of Jesus' salvation unhinges her sanctioned exploitation, frees her identity from her earning potential and sets in motion a series of chain-shattering events" (67).

They then go on to explain the eventual conversion of the jailer as well. They suggest, "Deliverance always ushers in new life (we say "deliver" babies for a reason). The jailer becomes beholden to Jesus Christ instead of to the magistrates.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. R. Gilbert on May 19, 2013
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All huge generalizations have some truth in them. What Andrew describes as a turn may be seen as nothing more than a pendulum swing away from practice back towards theory. The supposed bane of The Ivory Tower for many years is now The Answer for subjectivism....I suggest one read pages 45-46 to get the most benefit in the shortest amount of reading. The book as a whole is full of holes, not the least of which is its contradictions based in a Barthian theology of Skepticism.
IVP has published a potentially useful tome that could fuel discussion, but it remains for history to judge if "The result is a more rigorous and meaningful youth ministry, and a more theologically grounded and engaged church." (Back cover.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pastor Michael Best on September 29, 2011
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Fantastic book on how youth ministry is not simply pragmatic, but is at it's core practical theology. Root and Dean spend the first half of the book explaining what youth ministry has to do with theology, and how theology is essential for youth ministry.

I found particularly helpful the second part where youth ministry practices and topics are interpreted and evaluated through a theological lens. The authors address how we speak to teens about Jesus and sin, as well deepen our theological understanding of events such as summer camp, missions trips, wilderness adventures, and confirmation.

Anyone interested in how to take teens deeper into God's Word should read this book!
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Here's a simple challenge. This coming Sunday carefully and cautiously approach the youth pastor in your church and ask, "What is your theology of ministry?" If he stares at you like you're from the former planet known as Pluto, don't be surprised. Unfortunately, it's the response of most youth pastors today. If, however, you're met with a well-crafted, carefully articulated response, one which makes sense both in theological and practical terms, consider yourself lucky.

As Kenda Creasy Dean, co-author of The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry notes, the turn in youth ministry is "...an era in which theological reflection is becoming the norm in youth ministry instead of the exception... it [youth ministry] has not always been concerned with theological reflection. This is not to say that theology wasn't happening, or that youth workers didn't care about theology. But it is to say that youth workers' actions and self-conceptions were rarely informed by significant theological reflection." Theological reflection is "becoming the norm?" This undoubtedly is a positive marker in the progress of youth ministry, isn't it? It's a rhetorical question.

Although The Theological Turn... reflects a different faith tradition than the school I teach at, it still offers valuable points for consideration. It is divided into two parts, with Part I, "Theological Starting Points," addressing the question, "What does theology have to do with youth ministry?" This section invites the reader to envision "practical" theology (over-and-against systematic or historical theology) as an integrative imperative for youth ministry practice. In this respect the authors emphasize the roles that experience, reflection, and action play in the outworking of youth ministry programs.
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