What is youth ministry actually for? And does it have a future? Andrew Root, a leading scholar in youth ministry and practical theology, went on a one-year journey to answer these questions. In this book, Root weaves together an innovative first-person fictional narrative to diagnose the challenges facing the church today and to offer a new vision for youth ministry in the 21st century.
Informed by interviews that Root conducted with parents, this book explores how parents’ perspectives of what constitutes a good life are affecting youth ministry. In today’s culture, youth ministry can’t compete with sports, test prep, and the myriad other activities in which young people participate. Through a unique parable-style story, Root offers a new way to think about the purpose of youth ministry: not happiness, but joy. Joy is a sense of experiencing the good. For youth ministry to be about joy, it must move beyond the youth group model and rework the assumptions of how identity and happiness are imagined by parents in American society.
Andy Root takes us on a historic and self-reflective tour to demonstrate how youth ministries reveal what motivates parents and church leaders. I saw myself among those unknowingly promoting a new hedonism: helping young people find their ‘thing’ in order to feel happy. Andy frames our preoccupation with faith formation as part of this quest, which ultimately supplants faith’s true end—an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. As we hope he would, Andy calls us back to the cross by inviting young people to identify with Christ’s death and thus experience ‘God’s action’ in their lives. Rather than busyness, silence and humility make way for gratitude, and genuine joy erupts. Andy reminds us that it is at the cross where young people--and our communities--find themselves transformed.
—Sharon Galgay Ketcham, professor of theology and Christian ministries, Gordon College; author of Reciprocal Church
There are nagging questions in youth ministry, many of which we hesitate to name out loud. ‘Does what I’m doing matter?’ ‘Is any of this making a difference?’ In The End of Youth Ministry?, Andrew Root manages to put his finger on these concerns and bring them into the light. He doesn’t just name these questions, he explores them at length and then returns them to the youth worker in such a way that the questions become gifts. What Root has produced here is a page-turning look at the theological foundations of youth ministry. He has provided a way forward—one we can grow into, all the while pointing us in the direction of the good life.
—Amanda Hontz Drury, author of Saying Is Believing: The Necessity of Testimony in Adolescent Spiritual Development
Andy Root is among the finest theologians working in the area of youth ministry today. His many books evince a learned and sustained engagement with some of the most important thinkers in biblical studies, theology, philosophy, social theory, and more. His latest work, The End of Youth Ministry?, is no different, though its methodology is refreshingly new. Here he tells the story of a young man named Andrew on a journey to answer the question, ‘What is youth ministry for?’ The conversations at each stop along the way serve as a kind of Socratic method. Questions are asked, potential answers are put forth and found wanting, and the journey continues until finally—resolution. So what is the end of youth ministry? Read this book and Andy Root will show you the way.
—Bryan C. Hollon, professor of theology, Malone University
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