Interview with Kenda Creasy Dean

Why we need a new model of youth ministry

You may not have had time to read Kenda Creasey Dean’s excellent book “Almost Christian.” The video below gives a fantastic insight into her thinking. Now that we live in a world where there are once again a myriad of competing narratives – we need to find a way to do youth ministry in a way that doesn’t assume our young people will be enculturated into the kingdom. In what some would call a “PostChristendom” context – where the Christian faith may be the foundation of our culture but it is no longer the predominant worldview of our culture how do we equip young people to work out and live out their faith?

Creasey Dean highlights the significance of the family as a place where young people either see the Christian faith lived out or not. The benchmark she sets is not that high – if adults simply talk meaningfully about their faith at home and stay connected with the life of the church this will have a significant impact on young people. Now of course Creasey Dean is speaking from a US context, for me this means we have an even more urgent task in the UK where there is so much less church attendance and we are still borrowing a lot of our models of church life and discipleship from the US.

Three observations:

1. We need to find ways to empower, encourage and work alongside parents to help them take up their role as those with primary spiritual responsibility for their children.
2. We need to help young people understand what it means to live as “aliens and strangers” recognising that they will feel like an isolated minority – it means the relationships we develop as churches is even more crucial.
3. we need to help young people have sufficient apologetic understanding of what and why they believe and how to develop the practices and community that will sustain them in their faith into adulthood.

What did you make of the video?

For more like it check out the “it takes a whole church” sub site of the Evangelical Alliance.
You may also enjoy the article I wrote for youth work magazine on this subject.

PS Russell Shaw originally created this for the GO! Conference. It is taken from a phone conversation between Brad Montague and author Kenda Creasy Dean. The audio was difficult to hear so we recorded a new voice over the top, but the words belong to Kenda. You can view the original video here:

 

2 thoughts on “Why we need a new model of youth ministry”

  1. Hi Krish,

    Forget all the research and the clever production of the video – this just boils down to the fundamental, basic challenge to all Christians – live out your faith, show it matters, put it into action – and this speaks to those around you.

    As a parent and a youth leader I heard something very wise from a fellow parent the other day who said “your kids don’t do what you tell them – they do what they see you do”. We need to show them faith matters – so they see us talking about God, praying, taking risks and actually living our faith.

    Using the words of Lily Allen, we need to show that our faith is not just ‘right’ but also that it is ‘real’. Surely all strategies and approaches boil down to this?

    thanks,
    Jon

  2. Krish, thank you for posting this. It is along the lines of the comments I made on a similar post “It Takes a Whole Church” you made about a month ago.

    For students with Christian parents, where do we go from here in discipling adults? I’ve had this conversation with many pastors and pretty much all of them do not know themselves.

    For students with parents who are not Christians (the vast majority of the students I work with), it is a very difficult challenge. Some Christian students in this situation make huge jumps in their faith because they want something more than their parents have in their lives. On the other hand, many of these students are constantly falling back into the mold of their family seemingly no matter how hard they try.

    In general I think many people would come up with the same couple main components when we say “what is the gospel” or “how do we respond to the gospel”. But I think it would be rare to find two Christians or ministers that would say the same thing about “how do we disciple?” It may be because the Bible is not overtly as clear about discipleship (this is debatable of course) as it is regarding the gospel.

    I’d love to know what others think about this…

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