Monday, October 05, 2015

Not All Youth is Adolescence

I have spent a lot of time, over the past year or so, thinking about "adolescence." I've been trying to figure out how (and if) the term should be used to describe the people we're trying to describe when we use it. 

Despite some recent work that's been done to try to suggest otherwise, the term "adolescence," in all its conceptual glory, is a new one (originating with G. Stanley Hall in 1904). Now, before you try to cite Aristotle or Chaucer to refute me, consider what is actually meant by the term, "adolescence."  It doesn't just mean a specific group of people who are no longer children but not yet adults (or "emerging adults" or whatever comes next) or even just a time of transition between childhood and adulthood. "Adolescence" - since it entered the conversation as a categorical concept - constitutes a specific interpretation, a psychological and developmental discourse regarding the experiences of human beings who find themselves living under specific cultural, biological, familial, and political conditions. This is what we mean when we say that adolescence is a recent invention. It's not that these people didn't exist before 1904 and G. Stanley Hall created them (and Erik Erikson made them famous). Youth has always existed and the research suggests that it has constituted a distinct social space (or class) - distinct from both childhood and adulthood - in more than a few social contexts throughout history. But it didn't get interpreted through the psychological developmental lens of "adolescence" until recently.  As we know it, developmental psychology itself, the discipline to which adolescence actually belongs, is itself a fairly recent phenomenon. 

Andrew Root was right to talk about adolescence the way he did in his book Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry. He compares it to Santa Clause. The Santa Clause that we know (the rosie-cheeked fat guy who hangs out with elves on the North Pole) was invented in the 1930's by the Coca-Cola company. Of course Saint Nicholas is old, but Santa Clause is an invention no older than some of our grandparents. Adolescence is similar. The people we're describing have been with us for far longer than the terms and discourses we've made up to describe them.

But I want to raise the question of whether or not "adolescence" is always the best word to describe the people we're talking about. Already in the question there is a potentially controversial implication that the people we're describing are people before they are "adolescents." The question itself calls us out of the pattern of using adolescence as a totalizing discourse. We're already moving away from allowing "adolescence" to close the case on these people's experience. "Adolescent" (even when we use it as a noun) is adjectival. We should not assume that every human being we meet, within a certain age spectrum, must fit the description explicated in developmental theories of adolescence. Instead, it only becomes helpful after we engage them as human beings and then decide to turn to psychological interpretations of their experience. But we need to be open to the possibility of turning somewhere other than psychology - other than "adolescence" - for our best understandings of these people.

I've been careful, so far, to avoid defining "these people" we're describing when we use the word "adolescents." I don't want to foreclose on the meaning of a person's experience by imposing my own categories. But I would like to suggest that, in taking an ethnographic approach to understanding them, we'd be better off using a term like "youth" or "young people." Because what we're trying to describe is not foremost "adolescence" (for reasons already addressed) in its psychological framework, but something like "youth" as a real cultural construction (even if its not as "recent" as adolescence), a social practice or social space that is distinct from adulthood and childhood in its symbols of meaning and social rituals. In other words, we're talking about "youth culture." 

As annoyed as we may be by it, "youth culture" has been part of the Youth Ministry tool kit for a long time. But we've rarely (if at all) approached it the way we should approach a culture, avoiding ethnocentrism (or in this case, perhaps, "gerontocentrism") and operating on ethnographic principles without imposing developmental presuppositions.

"Youth," as opposed to "adolescence," is not a totalizing discourse. It does not carry with it a criteria to be met or a thesis to be proven. Instead, it allows us to interpret (not just translate) and find meaning in the social and cultural experience of occupying a unique social space. This helps us to avoid foreclosing on the meaning of such experiences by over-theorizing them prior to our encounter with them. 

I could go on and on with why this is important for us as theologians... I hope it's obvious (but it probably isn't). But to put it simply, I'll appeal to Andrew Root's definition of the "theological turn in youth ministry." He writes, "A youth ministry that turns to the theological seeks to share in the concrete and lived experience of young people as the very place to share in the act and being of God" (see here). If we are committed to the idea that God is active in "concrete and lived experience," then we have to concern ourselves with discovering the most faithful understanding of that experience.... not simply for the sake of the experience, per se, but for the sake of participating in the life and being of the God whom we are experiencing.   

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A short and underdeveloped thought on ministry and business

We do not need more "business savvy" Pastors. And seminaries should continue to disappoint people who are looking for business training.

If we continue to train Pastors to think like CEO's with business "savvy," where manipulating systems, "navigating" institutions, and leveraging people's spirits for our own (or even "God's") ends is not only permitted but encouraged, then we can be assured that we're not training them to be ministers. We are, in fact, omitting that which makes them ministers (relationship in participation with Christ) and replacing it with the kind of anxious, narcissistic, and instrumentalizing behavior that has been ripping the church apart since it first married itself to capitalism. A church which privileges its own existence and measures itself according to its expediency and effectiveness will always have people who hunger for control as its leaders (and "leadership" will be its primary metaphor for pastoral identity). This might sound familiar because it isn't new. A church which loves its own development and seeks to extend its territory and expand its walls will always produce refugees. But ministry should not create refugees but is to be with  and for the refugees of development--those who suffer under the tyranny of others' success. When it comes to the church of the crucified Christ, self preservation, efficiency in development, and conquest of influence are only temptation and never virtue.

May we never let success or relevance or influence be our driving motivation. And may we always settle for being present and loving to those who cannot contribute to our success or even our survival. May we find our relevance in our love for the least of these and not in the outcome of our business strategy.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Review of 'Emerging Adulthood and Faith' by Jonathan P. Hill

This is a really nice little book that should serve to temper the alarmism and anxiety over the "exodus" of young people from the church, the "danger" imposed by "secular" institutions of higher education on young people of faith, and the apparent "faith crisis" raised by modern science.

If Jonathan Hill is right (and we all know statistics can be a great vehicle for lies) then it turns out that "roughly the same percentage of young people are sitting in the pews (or folding chairs) of Protestant churches today as were there in the 1970s" (p.17). "College graduates are actually more likely [than people who never go to college] to practice their faith and say it is important in their daily life" (p.30). And "the supposed crisis of faith brought about by mainstream science and certain readings of the early chapters of Genesis simply does not exist for most young people" (p.57). Who knew?!

I don't put a lot of stock in these kinds of quantitative research projects anyway, but I'm glad this one exists if only to balance out the extreme fear mongering that takes place in some of the other sociological interpretations of data. If nothing else, this book helps us to chill out. Fun little read!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Can we talk about God now?

Not long ago, on my daily commute to campus, I got into a conversation with a fellow commuter about classes and such--the normal bus ride chit-chat. She told me that she was taking a course on ethnography, which peaked my interest, so I began to tell her about my own interest in ethnography and Childhood Studies as an interpretive conversation partner for Youth Ministry. She asked me what drew me to ethnography, and without much hesitation I answered, "frustration."

I don't think I'd thought about it in quite those terms before. The answer just sorta slipped out. But once I said it, I realized how true it was. It was frustration that drew me to a Childhood Studies approach to constituting youth and an ethnographic approach to interpreting the experiences of young people. 

It'd take a while for me to give a good introduction to what Childhood Studies is and how ethnography would provide the right interpretive framework for the kind of theological engagement in Youth Ministry that's necessary (in fact, it might take two full academic articles... one of them will be out in the Journal of Youth and Theology very soon and the other's under review). But the shorthand of it goes something like this: 

Childhood Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of children and childhood which constitutes childhood as a cultural construction and a social practice, rather than a stage of development with an inherent and natural trajectory toward adulthood. It understands "the child" not as a pre-social potential adult, purely subject to developmental, pedagogical, and parental processes, but as a "social actor" who lives in a distinct social world and participates in the social practice of childhood. As such, Childhood Studies offers Youth Ministry a lens through which to interpret the experiences of young people that does not over-theorize or essentialize their experience by imposing gerontocentric social or developmental norms.

Ethnography is the qualitative "science" of describing peoples' social experiences. It seeks a "thick description" (Clifford Geertz) wherein one can interpret cultures on their own terms, relinquishing control of the interpretive categories to the research subjects, rather than simply transliterating their experiences into the categories imposed by the researcher. In other words, ethnography is the art of non-selective hearing. With an ethnographic methodology, we can attend to the actual experiences of young people (where, as youth ministers, we expect to discover God at work), without the obscuring psychological and developmental assumptions that come with traditional categories of "adolescence" and "life cycle" theories.

Now, I'm a theologian, not a sociologist or an anthropologist. So when I come to these interpretive conversations, I take my own theological motivations and concerns. It's theology that's lead me to these conversations (I actually think that gerontocentrism reflects a mistake in eschatology). But it's also frustration...

For years, I've been studying Youth Ministry. And for years, I had been under the impression that the primary (if not the exclusive) interdisciplinary conversation partner for Youth Ministry was developmental psychology. Whatever sociological work we did consider was quantitative and filtered through a developmental hermeneutic. Young people were always "adolescents" and adolescence was a "stage of development" under the rubric of the "journey" to the "integrity" adulthood and generativity (see Erik Erickson). Even our approach to young peoples' spirituality was co-opted by developmentalism (see James Fowler's Stages of Faith and the more enigmatic James Loder's Logic of the Spirit). A good understanding of developmental psychology seemed to be more important in my Youth Ministry education than good theology (indeed, most of the youth workers I've known have had a better handle on the former than on the latter).

This is one of the big reasons I didn't get a B.A. in Youth Ministry. When I went to college, I started our as a Youth Ministry major. And in the school I was attending, Youth Ministry classes were heavy on development and light (I'm being generous) on theology. The concern was developing young people into mature Christian adults, not attending to God's action in the experiences of young people. I got bored.

I got frustrated.

And I think I got frustrated for two reasons.

1. Developmental psychological interpretations (transliterations, really) of adolescence as a struggle of "ego identity vs. role confusion" (Erickson), an endeavor to complete "tasks" in transition to "individuation" (I forget where Chap Clark gets this, Elkind? Santrock?) and to achieve the virtue of "fidelity" (Erickson again) never really resonated with my own experience. I never really understood what these people were talking about. Of course I could relate to struggles over identity and role, etc. But I could see that my parents and grand parents were going through similar struggles. And I could see that there were children and teenagers in my life who seemed to have a better handle on their "identity" than many of the most "generative" (read: successful) adults I knew. I just never found it helpful to theorize these kinds of things into discrete "stages" or to see them as normative and universal (what about people with developmental disabilities!?). It was obvious to me that there were people whose experiences were just not being taken into account, who weren't being heard by the selective hearing of developmentalism. And I wanted to find some way of attending to these people. This made it difficult to stay motivated in interpretation and made me all the more eager to think about theology instead.

2. I wanted to talk about God. In lecture after lecture on why teenage boys are horny or why teenage girls are so emotional (ugh!) I found myself thinking, again and again, "can we talk about God now?" I wanted to ask theological questions, not just psychological ones. I wanted to know where God was at work and how I could participate in God's action (it took me reading Andy Root, years later, to figure out how to articulate that), not just how to keep kids sober or make sure they weren't having sex on the mission trip. Intuitively, I knew that there had to be something more to ministry... and I thought it might be God. So I switched majors. And my theological path has brought me to where I am, still thoroughly concerned about doing ministry, but seeing ministry as a theological task--searching for God in the lives of young people in order to participate. My concern is not for human experience, per se. My concern is for the God that people are experiencing. And if I'm going to discover God's work in the lives of young people, I need a lens that allows me to see the actual content of that experience and not just in the places where it conforms to the standard of maturity.

The reason I think Youth Ministry needs Childhood Studies and ethnography is not because we need Childhood Studies and ethnography... it's because we need theology. To be more precise, we need the theological, we need God. I want more people in Youth Ministry to ask, "can we talk about God now?" I want more people in Youth Ministry to be on the lookout not for developmental conditions in order to affect them, but to be on the lookout for what God is doing in the actual content of people's experience, regardless of its conformity to standards of maturity, so that they can be a part of God's ministry.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Offering One More Semester To God

"We study theology properly because we are curious and find pleasure in the subject." -Jürgen Moltmann
When I first began my studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, I had an intense feeling that I did not belong here. It wasn't for lack of theological compatibility or because of any feeling that other people believed differently (although some of those initial conversations surprised me). In fact, I remember feeling liberated because I was finally in a community where I could use the term "eschatological" and people knew what I was saying. And it wasn't because people weren't hospitable (though not everyone was). Most people were very kind and extremely welcoming. The reason I felt I didn't belong was because I didn't feel smart enough to be here. Somehow, I must have tricked someone or slipped through the system. Why would a kid with a 2.3 high school GPA and 2.8 college GPA, who barely passed basic math his senior year, be accepted at such a good school (and even though PTS students are quick to downplay the school by reminding people that it's not Princeton University, it is a good school)?

Somehow I'd slipped in ...but I wasn't going to argue. The only problem was that now I had to actually perform. I had to convince people that I wasn't a fraud. Around here, we call this "imposter syndrome" ...and it's an epidemic.

I did whatever I could do to sound smart, or at least not to sound stupid. Sometimes I even fell for the temptation to try to make other people feel stupid. This is what makes Christian community so very difficult in seminary, especially in such a good seminary; perhaps even more difficult than in the church. We all have imposter syndrome. Or at least enough of us have it to make thing hard on ourselves.

I did discover, at some point, that I wasn't alone. And when I discovered that I wasn't the only person who felt like a fraud, I realized, however briefly, that I did belong.

I say briefly because now, in the beginning of my fourth and final year of seminary, as I prepare my application for Ph.D. program(s), it's all come rushing back. Why am I pretending that I should be considered for candidacy for the highest academic degree in my field? Why am I expecting to slip through the system yet again?

I am coming off of perhaps my most difficult summer in the last decade (if not my whole life). Working three jobs including a pastoral ministry position, finishing an article I had no business writing, studying for and taking the GRE (a comprehensive exam used to evaluate graduate applicants across all sorts of academic disciplines), and giving what little I had left to be a good father and husband (of course I know this is wrong and my family should come don't need to lecture me, I can do that myself), I put my spirit through more than it should've had to bear. My insecurities are screaming as I enter one more semester.

I say all this with some hesitation. Should I be confessing so much? Am I being too hard on myself? Perhaps I am. I do, in fact, feel a sense of calling. I did, from the beginning, feel called by God to the place where I am. And I feel called by God to pursue the path that I am pursuing. It certainly isn't just about trying to measure up. But I fear that if I do not consider the deepest confession, if I do not release even this to the will of God, I will carry the burden with me into the semester and squander the blessing of this place--the blessing of truly doing what I love to do and participating in the calling to which I have been invited.

Confession is how we offer ourselves to God. This is why confession is essential to worship.

And that's what I am here to do. Not to study, not to get good grades, not to impress anyone, not even to change the world. I am here to worship God. I am here, not out of some necessity. I am invited to be here and do this for joy. I am here to enjoy God. The only fraud is the one who does theology for any other reason than the glorification and enjoyment of God. And this makes us all frauds--a community of imposters--made right and accepted only through the grace of God and not according to our own merit.

So my prayer this semester is that God would be worshiped in my life. My prayer is that all of this--the articles, the grades, the test scores, the recommendation letters--may be counted as loss for the sake of Jesus Christ.

I am offering this year--with every page I read or write--to God. And I'm coming back to what I have been invited here to do.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dr. Capps, You Will Be Missed

Last night the world lost one of its greatest pastoral theologians. Professor Donald Capps was killed as a result of a car accident in Princeton yesterday. Capps joined the Princeton Theological Seminary faculty in 1981 and has been prolific in his writing and influential in his thinking ever since. Capps loved to teach and he loved his students. Even after his retirement, Capps taught courses at his leisure (I was registered to take his class on Ministry and Mental Illness this Fall... it was supposed to begin in just a couple of weeks). I am grateful to have had the opportunity to get to know him a little and to study under him. He was known by all of his students as someone who invested an incredible amount of energy into responding to them and helping them get better at what they do. You could bet that Capps put at least as much energy into responding and giving feedback to his students' papers as the students put into writing them. And he was extremely constructive and charitable in doing so. If you wrote a 7 page paper, it wasn't uncommon to get 7 pages of thoughtful feedback from Dr. Capps.

I wrote a paper for his class on "Pastoral Care and The Life Cycle" which, unsurprisingly if you know me, was critical of stage theory - an approach which Capps himself found very helpful. He didn't get defensive. He was much too comfortable in his own skin to do that. And he didn't take the opportunity to school me on all the problems with my critique, though I am sure he could have. Instead, he helped me. He gave a charitable reading of what I was trying to do, sympathized with my motives, and helped me strengthen my own argument. His feedback helped me construct a major section of what became my first published article. I will forever be grateful for Dr. Capps.

A model of his own work, Dr. Capps embodied in his teaching the pastoral attentiveness, patience, and grace about which he wrote. The Princeton Seminary community is better for having had him him among them.

Dr. Capps, you will be missed.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reading the Bible With Youth

The following post was published on the Institute for Youth Ministry Blog:

Many of my youth ministry colleagues know me as a bit of a theology nerd. I definitely have a lot more patience with abstract theological questions—you know, the stuff that’s not immediately “practical”—than a lot of my friends who work with young people. When I am feeling insecure, I like to curl into a corner and read Moltmann or Tillich (because it’s a world I understand!). But before you figure, “this guy’s got issues” and stop reading, hear me out. Read More

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Presenting at #PYM16

For the past year or so, I've been working on the intersection of Youth Ministry, Eschatology, and Childhood Studies (I've got one article coming out in the next issue of Journal of Youth and Theology and another article, co-authored with Erin Raffety, that's been submitted). I don't want my work to be merely academic, so I've been looking for opportunities to share it with actual youth workers and regular church folks. I've had a couple of those opportunities. But perhaps the biggest opportunity I've had yet is to present at the 2016 Progressive Youth Ministry Conference. I went to this conference in Chicago a couple of years ago (it's first year) and was impressed. This year I'll be leading a seminar called "Human Beings and Human Becomings: Adolescents and Eschatology." It's pretty cool of PYM to take a chance on someone who hasn't yet presented at a conference like this. It's gonna be a good time.

So, if you're looking for a good youth ministry conference to go to next year, consider the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

'Student' Ministry or Youth Ministry?

I was talking with someone in Corner Bakery the other day. Obviously well oriented to the social world of church, he was asking about my experience of seminary. (I think my Princeton Seminary T-shirt must have tipped him off.) When he asked what I was studying I told him, "practical theology... youth ministry, mostly." He nodded in approval and after a short pause he responded, "isn't it better to call it 'student ministry' these days?"

Without wanting to get into too deep a discussion, I said, "I still prefer 'youth'... not every kid is a student..." I'm sure he wasn't convinced by that and he probably assumes I'm getting a pretty archaic theological education... but if I could have, I would've just made him read Andrew Root's Article, "Stop Calling Them Students."

The fact is, it's not just that "not all kids are students" (and not all kids who aren't students are dropouts... young people with sever developmental disabilities can be exempt from this as well). It's also that to refer to someone as a student is to reduce them to what they do, their function. And in the Christian tradition, where ministry is concerned, this is a theological fallacy. As Andy writes,
"When it comes to defining the human being, the Christian tradition has claimed that to be human is to be a person. And to be a person is to be your relationships. It is not in instrumental functionalism that you are but in the relationships in which you are bound. We are in and through relationships of sharing love."
Young people, as people, are not what they "do." This is not necessarily to say that there is some "ideal" version of them that lives outside their actions. But it is to say that people are not just "it" they are "thou." I'm referring here to Martin Buber's classic work I and Thou. The question in what we call people is really not about what they are (sure, most young people are students, so if you've only got young people in your group who are students, why not call them that?)... the question is about how we are "bound" to them, how we orient ourselves to them. Are they just a function, a "student"--one who learns and to whom things are taught, an object of the pedagogical process? Again, Andy says, "Whatever we call them, it should bear the fundamental relational depth of our confession of who they are and how they are connected to who God is with and for them." And Andy might be right that it'd be better to call them "children," but I still say it's even better to call them "youth" or "young people." Because, like it or not, socially (not just biologically or psychologically), there is a distinct location, a "social practice" even (I'm referring here to Chris Jenks' Childhood), with its own creative dignity that is really neither adulthood nor childhood. "Youth" is still the best word... and it is nothing short of an imperative of justice that we do whatever it takes to rid that word of its pejorative and paternalistic stigmas.

Beyond simply being a poor theorization of "who" young people are, "Student Ministry" misconstrues and obscures our (adults') orientation to them (youth). To re-theorize and to re-define young people (are they "adolescents"? are they "teens"? are they "students"? are they "youth"?) is not enough, and it is not the most important question. We have to re-theorize ourselves! We must think about how our words and definitions affect our orientation to the other. Youth ministry--as MINISTRY--is one of the only places where adults are afforded the opportunity to encounter young people as persons, not just as objects for pedagogical or developmental processes. To call them "students" is, from the very beginning, to orient us to the young people as a teacher to a pupil--as one who is to affect the other--rather than as one who is open to being affected, one who anticipates the potentially disruptive encounter of one person (adult) to another person (youth).

Saturday, August 08, 2015

5 Youth Ministry Books You Haven't Read Yet...

I think most people who are close to the Youth Ministry world would know about books like Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries,  Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean, and Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry by Andrew Root... not to mention the various works of folks like Mark Oestreicher, Doug Fields, and Duffy Robbins. I hear a lot about these folks and these books (and rightfully so!) but there are a few other Youth Ministry books and authors you should probably know about. Here are five Youth Ministry Books you probably haven't read... and should probably read.

5. The Adolescent Journey by Amy Jacober
Jacober is a great youth worker and practical theologian. In The Adolescent Journey, Jacober pushes youth workers to understand the practical theological dimentions of their work with adolescents, interpreting the experience of adolescence through a theological lens so that youth ministry can participate with what God is doing in the lives of young people. It's a great introduction to practical theology for youth workers and a critical theorization of adolescence. If you're interested in thinking theologically about youth ministry, you should know that this book exists.

4. Saying is Believing by Amanda Hontz Drury
When I saw that Amanda Hontz Drury's research was being published for popular consumption, I just assumed that everyone would get it and read it. Drury is really one of the best theological minds in Youth Ministry right now, but I am amazed at how few of the people I know in Youth Ministry seem to know about her work. Saying is Believing, which just came out this year, examines the ways in which encouraging and helping young people to articulate their experience of God--to "testify"--helps them in their spiritual development. As such, this is also is a wonderful contribution to the endeavor to awaken the church to the voices of its young people... and you should know about it.

3. Woo: Awakening Teenagers' Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus by Morgan Schmidt
Morgan Schmidt is truly one of the up-and-coming thinkers in Youth Ministry and her book Woo showcases this fact. Woo reads like a manifesto on Youth Ministry and, to me, represents a new standard for what beginners in the practice of Youth Ministry ought to be thinking about. It's sorta like 'Kenda Dean light' meets 'Andy Root light,' and in no way do I mean that pejoratively. She holds the same high regard for the voices of young people and their potential to change the church that Dean holds while she also shows us how to 'place-share' the way Root wants us to, with those young people who don't feel like they have a voice... but Schmidt goes down a lot more smoothly for the novice reader. There's something in here for every youth worker, and you should have heard of it by now.

2. Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry by Fernando Arzola Jr.
Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry was perhaps the first book that encouraged me to believe that Youth Ministry could be theological. The book prescribes a paradigm shift away from "traditional youth ministry," away from "liberal youth ministry," away from "activist" youth ministry, and toward "prophetic" youth ministry. It's a call toward a holistic ministry, grounded in a holistic theological anthropology, which starts from the ministry of Christ rather than from any narrow agenda. This book has been around a while now... and you should know about it.

1. Amplifying Our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities by Benjamin T. Conner
I hope you have heard of this one. This is one of my new favorite Youth Ministry books! And It's got to be my new favorite "missional theology" book too! Drawing from the best minds in practical theology and missional theology (including Richard Osmer, Andrew Root, John Swinton, and Darrell Guder), Ben Conner takes a huge step toward the construction of a theological rationale that can actually include those who are not subject to "development" or to the "normal" expectations which adults often have for young people. By grounding his approach in disability, Conner avoids the pitfalls of normative anthropologies that reduce humanity and personhood to a set of "capacities" and "roles." Thus, Conner points the way forward for Youth Ministry as ministry and not just as "development" and "religious socialization." This is a good book and you should have read it by now.

Don't get me wrong. Just because I'm endorsing these books here doesn't mean that each of them don't have their own problems (and some have more than others). I just think these books have within them the beginnings of some conversations we should be having in Youth Ministry... and it'd be a shame for us to miss out on those conversations.