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Poetic Youth Ministry: Learning to Love Young People by Letting Them Go

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Current research shows what many in the Christian community already know: young people are leaving the church. This raises important questions: Why are young people leaving? How can the church respond? Some have responded to this issue out of a posture of fear and anxiety, trying to find new ways to strengthen doctrinal beliefs or practices of faith formation and discipleship. What if the best response isn't to strengthen our theology or tighten our hold on the lives of young people? What if the best response is a posture of love that lets young people go? Using the insights of philosopher Charles Taylor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Poetic Youth Ministry argues that the church must take seriously the formative power of social and cultural patterns that shape the social imaginaries of young people. Rather than seeing the problem as young people abandoning faith, the Christian community should see the issue as young people exchanging one form of faith for another. This allows the church to approach the issue from a posture of love, calling young people to embrace their identity in the new humanity revealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"Jason Lief is a youth worker who is also a deep Christian thinker and theologian. Poetic Youth Ministry is a wonderful gift, not only to youth workers but also to the entire church. Lief addresses the current anxiety over young people departing the church by critiquing strategies attempting to overcome this perceived dilemma. Poetic Youth Ministry fuels the turn to the theological and provokes youth workers to ask, 'What does youth ministry look like in a "world come of age"?' In addition to the rich and profound theological content, this book offers examples from Lief's experience as a youth worker on how to be with young people in Christian community as they discover what it means to be truly human. All youth workers who take their vocation seriously should read this book."
--Mike King, author of Presence-Centered Youth Ministry

Jason Lief is Associate Professor of Theology and Youth Ministry at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

164 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 22, 2015

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About the author

Jason Lief

8 books

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