Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church” as Want to Read:
Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  746 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Based on the National Study of Youth and Religion--the same invaluable data as its predecessor, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers--Kenda Creasy Dean's compelling new book, Almost Christian, investigates why American teenagers are at once so positive about Christianity and at the same time so apathetic about genuine religious practice. ...more
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published July 15th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published June 12th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Almost Christian, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Almost Christian

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,760)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kenda Creasy Dean, an Associate Professor at Princeton, examines the results of a massive study done from 2003-2005 called the national Study of Youth and Religion, as well as the assertion by others of the rise in Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in place of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths, although very much primarily focused on traditional Christian groups along with Mormons--a feel good type experience. That it wasn't riveting is evidenced by the fact that I first started this book in ...more
Oct 02, 2010 Jana rated it really liked it
I admit I read this because of the "Mormon Envy" chapter. I was very interested in what qualities of Mormonism translated to the NYSR (National Study of Youth and Religion) finding that Mormon teenagers are faring best in meaningful and practical application and understanding of their religion. To quote, "In nearly every area, using a variety of measures, Mormon teenagers were consistently the most positive, the most healthy, the most hopeful, and the most self-aware teenagers in the study."

Aug 08, 2011 Sean rated it it was amazing
"Almost Christian" is a provocatively titled book that analyzes the results of the National Study of Youth and Religion. It is very intelligently written, so I'd suggest getting the Kindle version to help define some of the words Dean uses while reading. But in a season where a lot of people are throwing youth ministry under the bus, Dean proposes the simple notion that adolescent faith is more a product of the apathy in adults' lives than in the programs of youth ministry. "Almost Christian" ta ...more
Alison Stegert
Nov 07, 2010 Alison Stegert rated it liked it
Recommended by Schmiddy.

Almost Christian paints a bleak picture of the faith of young Americans, but the book is not wihtout hope. It offers inspiration and direction if we are to reverse the current state of faith dubbed "Benign Whateverism." The problem is that majority of "believing" young people are not overly eager about their faith. The vast majority see God as a sort of divine therapist who helps them be happy and get along with other people. Sadly, sin, the need for a saviour, and overco
Dec 13, 2010 Jeffodist rated it liked it
from page 3- "Here is the gist of what you are about to read: American young people are, theoretically, fine with religious faith-but it does not concern them very much, and it is not durable enough to survive long after they graduate from high school.
One more thing: we're responsible."

No matter your faith, this book will have you asking, "am I highly devoted to the faith"
It seems most Americans (not just youth) have a faith in a God who just wants us to be nice. And we can call on him if we ar
Andy Goodrich
Oct 23, 2012 Andy Goodrich rated it liked it
I loved the first few chapters of this book and then found it wanting. The first few chapters were full of insight into our youth culture and the church as a whole but then in the final 2/3 of the book the researched backed, black and white clarity of the first portion of this book became clouded by a fog of intellectual church talk as the author tried to offer a solution. All in all the book as many good things to offer but by and large I felt that the author is just where everyone else is she ...more
Nathan Schneider
Dec 16, 2014 Nathan Schneider rated it it was amazing
Shelves: student-ministry
Almost Christian should be read by every pastor, youth worker, and parent. The church has been asking about the condition of our ministries to youth for some time and Kenda Creasy Dean exposes what may be the root issue, Moral Therapeutic Deism. Students hear and see a feel good faith in those around them and that's exactly what they're embracing. The is hope and it's in Jesus.
Jan 14, 2014 Diane rated it liked it
This book looks at the results of a recent survey on American teenagers and religious faith, and seeks to make sense of the results. The author's conclusion is that teenagers' lukewarm religious faith mirrors similar attributes in their parents' faith, that most teenagers take after their parents (and other important adults in their lives) in terms of their beliefs, and that a multi-generational, vibrant church is the best place to raise spiritually committed teenagers. The author makes some goo ...more
Apr 11, 2014 Lindsey rated it liked it
I liked the content and concepts, but the author is really long-winded. I managed to get to the core information by skimming, though I knew much of the statistics and background already.
Sean Post
Sep 08, 2014 Sean Post rated it liked it
Dean builds from the research data on teenage spirituality in the US (initially reflected on by Christian Smith in "Soul Searching"). Moving beyond hand-wringing, Dean urges her readers towards the cultivation of "missional imagination" and even into specific practices. She also turns the finger-pointing at Moralistic Therapeutic Deistic teens into a reflective exercise for the church and for parents. What if teens have not misheard the gospel due to our poor communication? What if we have actua ...more
Danielle Leger
Jul 02, 2016 Danielle Leger rated it liked it
Great book! Have to be in a reading mindset as it's fairly long!
Jonathan Beigle
Aug 09, 2014 Jonathan Beigle rated it did not like it
Shelves: marriage-family
This is my first 1-star book on Goodreads. I didn't like it. Almost Christian was not understandable and I'm not sure I ever got the point of the book. I think the point was that the church is rampant with Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and it shows through our teenagers. By the time I got to the 3rd chapter (out of 9), I was already thinking about quitting and starting another book, but I really don't like I stuck it out. By the time I got to chapter 4 or 5, I couldn't wait to be do ...more
Jay Miklovic
Jan 30, 2012 Jay Miklovic rated it really liked it
I liked this book. The beginning was pretty repetitive, and as I said in one of my status updates, benign. It did get better though.

There were a lot of things to take away from the book. Personally I found the idea of cultivating language 'behind the walls' in order that Christians would be able to communicate on and outside of the walls to be helpful. In other words the book actually seemed to speak in support of Christianese, something that most books addressing the future of the Church tend t
Cole J. Banning
Aug 22, 2012 Cole J. Banning rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cole J. Banning by: Tony Jones
I blame Rod Dreher.

Rod Dreher was a blogger at, where he consistently provided a voice which was theologically, politically, and culturally conservative. Dreher was the sort of guy I would read in order to stay fluent in the best arguments in favor of those positions with which I disagreed, in service of trying to be someone who was a) generally well-read and b) intellectually honest. I didn't read his blog religiously, but I would stop by sometimes when I was in a particularly st
Hansen Wendlandt
Jan 07, 2012 Hansen Wendlandt rated it really liked it
Almost Christian is carefully written, often with striking precision for theologians, sociologists and other heady church professionals, sometimes with evocative prose for the hearts engaged in youth ministry. Creasy Dean offers a good analysis of the NSYR, although one could ask for comparison with a few other studies about current or past teenage religiosity, and perhaps more proof of how churches and parents are at fault for kids’ bad ideas about God, rather than society in general. Her descr ...more
Jan 21, 2012 Free rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Youth Pastors
I can't say enough great things about this book. This is a book written as a result of real interview questions on faith with youth from all over the world ages 13-18. The results from the answers is overwhelming to say the least, but not too surprising.

If you are a Pastor, Youth Pastor, Youth Leader or a parent with kids this is a book for you. Specifically Youth Pastors and Youth Leaders, I would go as far to say next to the Bible it is imperative that you read this book.

I am currently a yout
Very interesting and even inspiring in parts. I loved the first two chapters about how too many American Christian teenagers are actually adopting a worldly philosophy the author labels "Moralistic Theurapeutic Deism," or "Benign Whateverism." It demands nothing and is not transformative, but it vaguely asks people to follow the Golden Rule and not judge others and leaves teens with a vague positive impression of religion. God is called on when needed and thought of as a "Spiritual Counselor" or ...more
Jonathan Brooker
Dec 09, 2013 Jonathan Brooker rated it it was ok
As many others have said, this book starts so well. Dean does a great job of setting the stage for the problem in the American church and culture today. Without any big fanfare Moral Therapeutic Deism has crept in and stollen the hearts and minds of many of our teens and adults in our churches. Don't know what MTD is? Read this book.
But I can only really recommend reading the first few chapters. After she makes the turn to talking about Mormon envy it goes downhill quickly and severely. The read
Aug 22, 2012 Elle rated it it was amazing
An interpretation of the National Study of Youth and Religion by one of the interviewing researchers, Almost Christian explores how the Church has replaced Christianity with "niceness." Richard Neibuhr's characterization of liberal Christianity offering, "A God without wrath" bringing "men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross," helps define this "niceness," which ends up being too weak to keep people in the Church. Creasy Dean's work h ...more
Nov 29, 2011 LeAnne rated it really liked it
In Almost Christian, Dean attempts to answer this question left hanging in Christian Smith and Melinda Denton’s Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teens (Oxford University Press, 2005): Why do so many church kids abandon religious practice as young adults? Dean blames the church, including parents, for not challenging young people with a content-rich faith that reaches out in service to the world around us. Despite the historic doctrines of our churches, we have failed ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Joseph rated it really liked it
Fantastic book on modern American adolescent Christianity; should be required reading for every church youth group leader. Dean discusses moralistic therapeutic deism and how it has lead to a bunch of really nice teens who, as nice as they are, don't really have Christ in their hearts. He proposes some solutions to helping this reverse itself, but also some interesting research on why moralistic therapeutic deism is a problem in the first place.

My one complaint is the praise he gives Mormons. I
Jeff Raymond
I don't know why I find books about people's relationships with religion so appealing, but I do. Maybe it's because my relationship with religion, before withering away and dying completely, was so strange for me, and I get a lot of enjoyment finding out other people's roads to where they're at.

This is not a book directed to people who have left/abandoned/lost God, but a book directed to people who are trying to keep God. It's focused on teenagers and their relationships with the religion they'r
Apr 06, 2011 Krista rated it really liked it
I found this book interesting and engaging, though it took me awhile to get through it (social science often takes me awhile. It just doesn't capture my attention the same way that, say, fiction does.)
In the book, Creasy Dean (a PTS prof) explores the results of the National Study of Youth and Religion. One of the major findings of this study - a point she returns to throughout the book - is that many American teenagers espouse an outlook called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Her discussion of th
Dec 29, 2011 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth-ministry
Kenda Dean reflects theologically upon the National Study of Youth and Religion, which among other discoveries gave us the phrase "moralistic therapeutic deism" to describe the generic, default faith of the youth in our country (and, anecdotally, many adults as well).

Dean is one of my favorite thinkers on CYF ministry (Children, Youth, Family). She does a wonderful job of showing us the "sign potential" of youth - that as we seek to understand adolescents we end up understanding deep realities a
Jan 09, 2014 Churchlady rated it really liked it
I've been reading this book for years now. Literally. There's lot of information - it's a report of a study of American youth and their faith lives. I appreciated the author's thoughtful examination of the data and her ability to bring practical experience of working with youth into the book so it becomes a much more practical discussion of raw data. She even offers thoughts for solutions instead of just sitting at the sidelines and wringing her hands. We discussed this at a recent youth workers ...more
Jun 05, 2016 Jill rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious-misc
I think this book was a Goodreads referral based on other books I've read, and WOW. It is a short read (200 pgs) and well worth it! Dean makes some really profound insights on the bland brand of Christianity currently practiced in the U.S. This book carries a heavy indictment on adults as it asserts that the apathy towards Christianity found in teens is a reflection of their parents' practice and society around them as a whole. There are some great quotes and a good amount of data in the appendi ...more
Dec 11, 2010 Eric rated it liked it
Springing from the National Study of Youth and Religion, Dean explores in further detail why religion, Christianity in particular, is so "whatever" among teens. This book is where I came across the term "Moralistic Therapuetic Deism" -- a watered down version of Christianity that instead of having a loving and involved god who promises everything and demands our all, we have what she refers to as a Christian-ish Cult of Nice where god neither demands nor promises much. Therefore, religion become ...more
May 09, 2014 Bill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: campus ministers
Recommended to Bill by: Jason Clark
The book’s main premise is that our Christian youth today have adopted their theological beliefs (described as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism) by watching the older generation. Evidence shows that young people who live in the midst of a Christian community whose focus is on living out the mission of God experience meaningful faith.

I especially appreciated the section on "translation," which is really a missiological message on incarnation. The author develops excellent thoughts on the importance o
Oct 29, 2011 Coryke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Dean both explores the implications of the NYSR findings - specifically, that American teenage faith is prone to something called Moral Therapeutic Deism - and discusses ways to challenge that way of thinking. Perhaps most importantly, she notes that this (psuedo-)theology so favored by teenagers is not just an indictment of them, but of all of us. That is, teenagers are not Moral Therapeutic Deists because they didn't listen to their parents and faith communities, but precisely because they did ...more
Edy Gies
Aug 28, 2015 Edy Gies rated it really liked it
This book took some work to get through. There were a lot of statistics, but my take away was that the Church has a lot of work to do when it comes to raising our children. A great companion to this book would be You Lost Me, but they are reiterations of each other. This book deals with Moralistic Therapeutic Deism a newer term that describes the weak and doctrine challenged movement that is taking over American Christianity. It challenged me to get the teens I am working with to share their tes ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 58 59 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: Almost Christian 3 stars 1 11 May 02, 2016 04:45PM  
  • Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
  • Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry: From a Strategy of Influence to a Theology of Incarnation
  • Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do about It
  • Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We Need to Go
  • Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus
  • Sticky Faith, Youth Worker Edition: Practical Ideas to Nurture Long-Term Faith in Teenagers
  • Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers
  • Matthew (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
  • You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church... and Rethinking Faith
  • Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right
  • Economy of Desire
  • To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World
  • Generation to Generation: Family Process in Church and Synagogue
  • Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning
  • The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America
  • Who's Afraid of Postmodernism?: Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church (The Church and Postmodern Culture)
  • Responsible Grace
  • The Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide...
Kenda Creasy Dean is an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (United Methodist) and professor of youth, church, and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she works closely with the Institute for Youth Ministry. A graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary, she served as pastor in suburban Washington DC and as a campus minister at the University of Maryland-College P ...more
More about Kenda Creasy Dean...

Share This Book

“Faith does not mean mimicking Jesus, but participating in his self-giving love—not because we have somehow chosen to be like him, but because, incredibly, God has chosen to become like us.” 4 likes
“The essential mark of maturity in Christians—as in peach trees—is generativity. Mature faith bears fruit. Mature Christians are branches on which God’s love is multiplied and offered for the nourishment of others. As Jesus pointed out, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (John 15:8). By nurturing and offering the life-giving fruits of the Spirit (e.g., love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control [Gal. 5:22–23]), we become branches of divine grace, vehicles Christ uses to extend himself to others.” 2 likes
More quotes…