The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, By Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean alt

The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry

by Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean

The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Published: September 12, 2011
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 6934
  • ISBN: 9780830869343

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Christianity Today Book Award of Merit winner

What haunts your youth group? So often we avoid talking about doubts and fears because we feel inadequately equipped to address them in any meaningful way. The crisis of existence can't be answered with pat Sunday school formulas or a few Bible verses, let alone another relay race.

The questions our youth have are often the same ones that perplexed the great theologians, driving them to search for God in the places God didn't appear to be--places of brokenness, suffering and confusion. What if we let these questions drive our search for God too?

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. Follow them into reflection on your own practice of theology, and learn how to share that theology through rich, compassionate conversation and purposeful experience.

"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

"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



Part 1: A Theological Starting Point for Youth Ministry

1 Is Theologically Rigorous Youth Ministry an Oxymoron?
2 The New Rhetoric of Youth Ministry
3 Youth Ministry as an Integrative Theological Task
4 Proclaiming Salvation: The Ministry of Youth for the 21st Century Church
5 How is Theology Constructed in Ministry with Young people

Part 2: A Theological Orientation for Youth Ministry

6 Youth Ministry as Discerning Christopraxis: A Hermeneutical Model
7 Holding On to Our Kisses
8 God's Hiddenness, Suffering, and Doubt: Theological Directions for Youth Ministry
9 Ascension Deficit Disorder: Youth Ministry as a Laboratory for Hope
10 Reflection on Divine and Human Action as the Core of Youth Ministry: A Practical Theological Perspective

Part Three- A Theological Dialogue with the Practice of Youth Ministry

11 The Eschatological Significance of Summer Camp
12 The Youth Ministry Mission Trip as Global Tourism: Are We OK With This?
13 The Confirmation Teacher/Mentor as Co-Doubter: Doubt as the Curriculum for Confirmation
14 The Outdoor Ministry Trip and the Heidelberg Disputation: What Are We Doing in These Mountains?
15 What the Hell is Sin and How Do I Talk about it with Young People?
16 Is Jesus Magic? Healing and the Cross in the Context of Youth Ministry


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Andrew Root

Andrew Root (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is in the Baalson Olson Chair as associate professor of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary. 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

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.