AUTHOR: Chap Clark
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2016, (400 pages).
- Recognizing that in every Church and organization, there are insiders as well as outsiders.
- Reminding that we are adopted into God's family as a child with other children.
- We are vulnerable but Jesus has his eyes on us.
- That we as well as outsiders are called to the gathering.
"Adoptive ministry is vital because we are witnessing the fact that in Christ God has invited those who 'believed in his name' to 'become children of God' (John 1:12). This is the message of the good news. Therefore our message—in our lifestyle, service, and word—is adoption."
Why is there a need to change from traditional ways of doing youth ministry? Clark gives three reasons. First, we are losing those who had gone through such youth ministries and if things do not change, it will get worse. Second, many young ones in contemporary culture have written off 'traditional faith.' They are changing but the ministries are not adapting as well. Third, the world we live in are changing, and are often painful, confusing, and abandoning. There is a need to win back trust. There is a need to inculcate hope. A key point from the research in the book "Sticky Faith" is that young people need to feel they are "known, valued, actively engaged, and proactively loved within a community." Rather than providing practical steps, this book focuses on strategy and theology to help us plan and implement adoptive youth ministry. The articles are arranged in four parts.
Part One is about the Context of Adoptive Youth Ministry (AYM). It needs to move from institution to organism. Flexible ideas are more important than rigid institutionalization. Some basic things do not change but the ways of delivery do change frequently. Chap Clark highlights five basic levels to think about.
- Outreach Level: to people feeling left out
- Welcoming Level: to those who are willing to participate in some
- Engaging Level: to those who have expressed interest
- Diverse Relationships Level: connecting people to a broader relation of faith
- Adoption Level: Mentorship
Part Two is about the CALL where seven articles reflect on theology and ways to think about youth ministry. Almeda Wright argues for a youth ministry that is reflective and to make space for disruptive happenings under the love of God. Michael McEntyre looks at the relationship between practical theology and youth ministry and how they lead toward closely knitted communities of faith. Later articles show us some possible trajectories on how to see youth ministry in the long run. David Jia and Jinna Sil look at the rising numbers of Asian Americans and their assimilation into American culture. From that experience, they help us understand some perspectives of second-generation Asian Americans, with insights on globalization and immigration concerns.
Part Three touches on the PRACTICE of ministry that covers the creating of welcoming spaces, spiritual formation, apologetics, unique middle school perspectives, multiethnic considerations, and Latin concerns. Part Four suggests some SKILLS to adopt if we were to be effective in AYM. Skills like leadership and the appropriate use of power; of communications; of teaching styles; of Church strategies and structures; and so on.
There are lots of good stuff packed into one book. At one look, it could be very intellectual. For some, it could very well fall into the TLDR category where people do not bother to read beyond the first few paragraphs because of lengthiness. I can understand the perspective of the authors. It is very difficult to squeeze in so much knowledge, experience, and know-how into just a few pages. With the many authors and contributors, something has got to give. It is a tricky balance between ease of reading and the optimal information given. I like to use the metaphor of computer programming. A program that is written in a compact manner is usually more efficient compared to a program written for ease of reading and structure. The former minimizes programming steps for maximum computer efficiency. The latter maximizes readability at the expense of computer power. Due to the brevity of each article, each contributor has to pack a lot of stuff into a limited number of pages. That is why some needed explanations had to be left out. The assumption is that readers will then need to do his/her own homework.
Perhaps, that is the way to go. Get the key ideas from the articles that interest us, and we do our own contextualization and learning. It would be foolhardy to try and replicate exactly what the authors were saying. There is no one way to do youth ministry. Even within the same organization, people and generations change often. What works yesterday may not work today. Use this book as a reference book. Use any article as a launchpad to consider our youth ministries. Not all will be applicable, but it is still helpful to know what is happening elsewhere. It keeps us grounded not only in our own churches, but aware of what's happening elsewhere. Good resource to have.
Useful Website Resource: www.youthministry.fuller.edu
Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.
This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Academic and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.