Yesterday, I posted on Andrew Root’s brand-new book, Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry. I spoke with pretty high regard for the book, saying,
While reading the book, I came to the realization that, to my knowledge, there is no youth ministry book that is as theologically deep and rich as Root’s. Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster’s book The Godbearing Life is the only work close to Root’s in nature, but even it does not probe the depths of a particular theological subject like Root’s. In my estimation, Root’s book will be noted as being the first in a line of theological books written specifically for the context of youth ministry. With the publication of this book, a new (and needed) genre has been birthed.
Creating a new genre isn’t bad for a first book.
The reason this book excites me so much is that I believe this book is an eschatalogical event (okay, that might be a little bit of a stretch). Let me explain. Over a year ago I predicted that the next 50 years of youth ministry would see the theologizing of youth ministry. I said, among other things,
This is why I say that the theologization of youth ministry in the next 50 years will determine whether or not it will live or die. In order to be faithful to the gospel, and not bound to success, we must be able to discern when we are being faithful and when we are neutering the gospel. Among other things, theology is the practice of discernment. For those who are called as professional youth ministers, we must possess within us the ability to perceive the theological implications of everything that we do. Instead of seeing the goal and achieving it with any means possible, we must determine whether or not our means is theologically sound as well.
Yes, I do think I made that “theologization” word up.
For me, Root’s book is the expectation of the future coming to pass in the present. With Root’s book we are making the turn towards a new paradigm in youth ministry.
Yes, the book is a bit difficult to read for some; it is truly a theological work. Yes, we want to ask “but will this work?” Yes, sometimes it seems like there is a bit of practicality missing from the book.
But the reason this book might be so uncomfortable, so challenging, so unfamiliar, and so overwhelming for many of us is that we are reading it while still operating out of the current paradigm of ministry while Root is coming to the table with a completely different set of presuppositions. We would do well to listen to it diligently, since it will be our tendency to try and fit the book into our current paradigm. But to do so would be to lose the weight of the book.
This is the first book to my knowledge that is doing real theology for the sake of youth ministry. But I don’t believe it will be the last. The future of youth ministry is upon us.