Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students
Alberto is an energetic, people-pleasing eighth grader. He seems to have it all—from the junior high varsity team to his family's beautiful new home to leadership in his youth group. But he feels pressured by team members who mock his Christianity and rejected by his dad whose work requires more and more travel. His young spiritual life is in a precarious place.Last year, as a high school sophomore, Jonathan began spending time with some recreational drug users. He was confident in his ability to hang out with these guys without getting involved with drugs. But he crossed the line. Jonathan is broken and cannot find his way back to the comfort of his previous trust in Jesus.Rachel is estranged from her parents. In her freshman year at college, she is sharing an apartment with her boyfriend. She is torn between her emotional dependence on his attention and the fear that he will once again hurt her in a drunken rage. She has tried church but deemed it to be unsafe for a person like herself.
This generation is the first to travel a truly postmodern pilgrimage where religious pluralism and faddish spiritual experiences are in vogue while Christianity is considered out of style. You want to reach them. But how?
Richard Dunn suggests that the key is to set the pace in their lives—physically, intellectually, socially, and spiritually. Pacing takes time. It requires listening to youth and digging beneath the surface. But it pays off, because pacing allows you to enter the world of an adolescent and communicate caring.
In this book, Dunn shows you how to set the pace with sensitivity to the unique spiritual issues that occur during each stage of adolescent development: junior high, senior high and college.
"Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students is not an ideas book but a significant resource that gives us an idea of the importance of relationships in a program-saturated youth ministry world. . . . I'm a different youth worker because of this book!"
"In a day when we need to do all we can to understand this changing culture--identifying the needs of this generation so we can effectively communicate Christ's love--Rick Dunn has composed a significant tool in this process! Student ministry leaders need tangible ideas to assist them in coming alongside students, to understand and communicate with them in a way that will ultimately point to God. This is a must-have resource to assist in training pastors and leaders in better reaching this generation for Christ."
"What a great time to be a youth minister! Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students is the latest indication that we're getting serious about this stuff. Rick Dunn's skillful storytelling and personal authenticity reveal a gifted and creative leader, grounded by his love for God and teens, pacing with us as he leads us into some of the deepest waters of youth ministry. This book draws effortlessly from Rick's cultural savvy, theological acumen and expertise in adolescent development. And what a great new contribution! 'Pacing, then leading' will become a test of youth ministry literacy for years to come."
"Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students provides important insights to guide spiritual caregivers in successfully negotiating the turbulent waters of transformation for adolescents in the midst of our postmodern culture. Rick Dunn engages the reader with stories that teach, practical insights and thought-provoking questions in his perceptive look at the challenges inherent in assisting twenty-first-century youth toward spiritual maturity. Reading this book brought me to a place of greater clarity and hope in my ability to affect students for Christ. The questions and suggestions at the end of each chapter both nurtured and challenged me. Shaping the Spiritual Life of Students will become required reading for our youth ministry majors and should be for anyone serious about ministering to students."
"Rick Dunn's steady, measured hand in this book allows readers to draw from his many years of youth ministry experiences--as both a practitioner and a teacher. Youth workers and parents of teenagers alike will find his practical insights encouraging and challenging. I especially appreciated the 'Reflecting on Your Journey' exercises at the end of each chapter. A valuable resource for all who love kids and those who want to see more love Jesus."
Foreword by Doug Fields
Section 1: A Vision for Twenty-First Century Ministry
1. The Walk of Life
2. Postmodern Pilgrims in Progress
3. A Theology for Pacing, Then Leading
Section 2: Sacred Practices of Loving Well
4. How to Listen Before You Lead
5. How to Speak the Truth in Love
6. How to Confront Resolve Conflict
7. How to Nurture the Adolescent Moral Self
8. How to Create Space for Postmodern Spiritual Journeys
Section 3: Exploring the Terrain of Adolescent Journeys
9. Early Adolescence: "We're Not in Kansas Anymore"
10. Middle Adolescence: Whose Am I?
11. Late Adolescence: The Final Frontier
Section 4: Spiritual Care for Spiritual Caregivers
12. Self-Care for Wick Burners