Friday, February 6, 2009

Kingdom-Driven Youth Ministry

Reviewed by Chris Wagner

This review appeared in the Winter 2008 edition of Engage: The Journal of Youth Culture from CPYU.

Recognizing that past youth ministry models have largely failed in the cultural context of our changing postmodern world, Wendell J. Loewen invites churches and youth ministries to embrace a kingdom-driven ministry paradigm. Beyond Me: Grounding Youth Ministry in God’s Story (Faith & Life Resources, 2008) compels readers to consider using the theology of God’s reign to refocus ministry efforts in a way that invites youth to discover their place within God’s narrative.

In the first half of his book, Loewen explores what it looks like to grow up as a teen in today’s world. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, Loewen was greatly influenced by Chap Clark. This is most obvious in the sections describing the systemic abandonment of teens by adults, and the differences between early, middle and late adolescence. Beyond Me also describes how postmodernism and consumerism shape the adolescent story.

The book’s strength is found in how it boldly demonstrates how the narrative of God’s reign offers a compelling counter-narrative to the postmodern, consumerist worldview most teens have adopted. It describes four dimensions of God’s kingdom and how they speak to the identity, autonomy and sense of belonging of teens. This type of ministry focus moves beyond the programmatic and offers a theology that encourages God’s reign to be realized in every area of life. The church is asked to come alongside teens as they discover how their individual calling fits into the calling of God’s church and his present and future work in the world. Teens move beyond an individualistic faith to one that is integrated into the community of believers and works with the body of Christ to live out kingdom traits. Youth ministries that adhere to these principles will find themselves being agents of change that help advance God’s kingdom.

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1 comment:

Rob Maxey said...

Hey Walt - I don;t have time to read another book - however sounds like I MUST read this one based on your recomendation. Thanks for sorting through the clutter! God Bless, Rob Maxey - Youth for Christ - Sacramento CA