Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book Review: The Godbearing Life

The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth MinistryThe Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry by Kenda Creasy Dean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kendra Creasy Dean has her finger on the pulse of the spiritual side of youth ministry. i chose to read The Godbearing Life as part of my Sabbatical study. Although i found parts of this book a little outdated (published in 1998 - a lot has changed in the lives of youth with technology, etc. since then) I still found this book useful for understanding the deeper side of youth ministry.

i particularly liked chapter 3 titled Heeding While Herding. As youth leaders/pastors/volunteers we are more than just a shepherd - there to protect and 'look out for' our flock of teenagers. our job (or should i say 'calling') goes beyond that.

"protection is for naught unless the flock follows the shepherd home."

Jesus Christ is the 'home' we aim to lead our adolescent youth to. but with that calling come barriers.

Barrier 1: Me Tarzan, You Jane (i.e. The Messiah Complex)
youth leaders cling to the idea that 'we must fetch youth and save them.' the problem with that is that it can lead to a ministry that begins and ends with the youth leader - not Jesus. The Godbearing alternative: Entrainment. stopping and listening to the breath of the Spirit within us (that is the breath of God) and aligning our rhythm with Him.

Barrier 2: McFaith (i.e. the Manager complex)
when we feel like our need is to be efficient - we run the risk of making faith 'easy' for teens. Sort of a drive-thru mentality can invade our way of managing our ministry. We end up managing chaos - trying to keep every aspect of the youth ministry afloat. We know that our teens are used to everything instantly... now. and thus we attempt to give them a faith that is fast and easy.
The Godbearing alternative is teaching students (and maybe ourselves?) to wait... patience is needed and essential to one's Spiritual life. We need times of rest and times of sabbath. we need time to process our faith. we need to wait on God. with expectant hearts...

Barrier 3: Called but Clueless (i.e. the "Duh" Complex)
We affirm youth (rightfully so). We encourage them and boost there self image - as self esteem is such a difficult thing for most teens - but do we affirm them with the absence of expectation does not enhance one's self image.
i loved the example laid out in the book of Mary, the mother of Jesus. the neat thing is that while Mary expected God to move (as promised by Gabriel) God expected Mary to fulfill her calling. As much as Mary believed in Him, He believed in her.
The Godbearing alternative is discernment. We need to pay attention and call attention to God. If we encourage youth - we must empower them as well. show them we believe in them. Show them that God believes in them.

Profound stuff for anyone who works with teens.

This book is a worthwhile book and should be a must read for any new youth worker. It very well may enable them to connect with teens on a deeper, spiritual level.

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