We tend to organize our youth ministry from the inside out. We give gathered groups of individual youth tools and teaching to form their souls around a Christian identity. So far, so good. But what if our identity is not merely or even primarily rooted and established somewhere inside ourselves? What if our identity is shaped and cultivated in the relationships we inhabit--each with their own distinctives and demands—and in the overlapping stories we find ourselves in?
Prefabricated approaches to ministry that focus on the interior makeup of our youth may make for good youth group members, but these limited approaches don't reach beyond the youth room into other corners of their lives. Rather than centering them on the faith, our inside-out approach may be pushing their faith to the margins of their life.
Brandon McKoy mines the insights of social construction theory to help us locate Christ not in our hearts but in our midst. We learn to embrace him as our own and our students as whole people engaging in a life's worth of encounters. Approaching youth ministry from the outside in, we discover our students in a whole new light—and with them, the fullness of our faith.
"Brandon develops ideas in this text that to my knowledge are nowhere to be found in the voluminous literature on narrative and associated practices of therapy and mediation."
"Brandon's work is masterfully presented here, and I fully and enthusiastically endorse what he offers us, not only for those in youth ministry but in any missional leadership setting."
"Brandon McKoy really understands the power of story. Youth Ministry from the Outside In significantly moves this conversation for youth workers and the church by taking us deeper into the social and theological dynamics of helping young people make meaning out of life. . . . McKoy inspires with new ways to engage young people in reading, thinking, discussing and interpreting Scripture, enabling them to really know the Bible, not for the sake of trivia but to make meaning for their lives."
"My brain is swimming with questions and ideas, conviction and possibility after reading Youth Ministry from the Outside In. McKoy turns our ministry inside out, actually--moving our focus from isolated individuals assembled together, toward an ecosystem of living and breathing people-in-relationship. Read this book carefully--it may take more than one pass--and watch how it worms its way into your thinking and practice."
"This book provides a new perspective for looking at youth ministry, and indeed ministry with all people. . . . This book is recommended for all who are involved with youth ministry. It is appropriate for church and college libraries."
Foreword by Chap Clark
Part 1: Beyond Self and Individual Identity
1. The Way We See It: Social Constructionism and Practical Theology
2. The Inadequacies of Individualism
3. Relational Beings
4. The Reality and Not so Reality of Life Stories
Part 2: Coordinating a Life Story: Relational Narrative Development
5. Life Story
6. Childhood Foundational Elements for Adolescence
7. Relational Narrative Development in Early Adolescence
8. Relational Narrative Development in Midadolescence
Part 3: God?s Story
9. Reading the Bible
10. Movements in Youth Ministry Practices
11. Life Story in Christ
12. Relational Responsibility
Afterword by Kenneth J. Gergen