Over a year ago we first determined that we wanted to start offering “mini-themes” of articles within the Christian Education Journal to provide an opportunity for some focused attention on important educational ministry areas. This is our second issue with this kind of structure and we are excited to share it with you.
David Setran, from Wheaton College, serves as the guest editor for this mini-theme on “College and Young Adult Ministry.” He has recruited authors and pulled together a wonderful collection of articles that includes recent research and critical thinking about ministry issues with people at this stage of life. As most of us can attest, these years are a critical time for faith formation and maturation, and it offers many challenges and opportunities for those who invest their ministry efforts here. David’s editorial provides a helpful overview and introduction to these six articles and I am sure you will enjoy reading them.
In this mini-theme issue of the Christian Education Journal, we explore the area of college and young adult ministry. While age 18 is the typical marker for the beginning of collegiate ministry, the precise age range indicated by “young adulthood” is currently a hotly contested topic among psychologists and sociologists. Psychologist Jeffrey Arnett (2000) has recently posited a new life stage—emerging adulthood—to span the years (roughly 18 to 25) between adolescence and true adult status. With the typical marks of adulthood—the completion of education, marriage, financial independence, and the beginning of a career—delayed both by social factors and personal choices, “emerging adults” experience a prolonged stage of exploration and self-definition that carries its own unique challenges and opportunities. “Having left the dependency of childhood and adolescence, and having not yet entered the enduring responsibilities that are normative in adulthood,” he notes, “emerging adults often explore a variety of possible life directions in love, work, and worldviews” (p. 469). On the other end of the age spectrum, sociologist Robert Wuthnow (2007) has recently suggested that young adulthood in America actually lasts into the early 40s. Delays in adult status and stability, combined with the extension of the life span, indicate that the middle of adult life does not occur until closer to age 50. In light of such research, perhaps it would make sense to consider college and young adult ministry as inclusive of individuals ranging from ages 18 to 40.
Sociological data confirms what we have often felt: (a) adulthood is now a more difficult status to attain; (b) transitioning to adulthood admits to different pathways, complicating ministry with young adults; and (c) the meaning people attribute to being "adult" is more varied than when societal roles were more ascribed. This article offers sociological analysis of these trends, especially as they impact how Christian identity is shaped. It also suggests strategic foci for Christian educators tending the life course of young adults.
The purpose of this study was to explore the role of religion and faith in the lives of recent high school graduates and to seek better ways to prepare teenagers for faithful participation in church and religious life beyond the youth years. Finding answers to why youth drop out following high school graduation has been a persistent problem for youth and young adult leaders, church leaders, and parents for some time. Quantitative surveys were completed by 1,362 young adults aged 18-?30. Qualitative group interviews were conducted with 24 groups (n=178) including both active and non-active young adults, exploring factors involved in lifestyle, relationships, and religious participation. Active church attendance was defined as attending two or more times per month. Results indicated four domains that influenced young adult dropouts: relationships, discipleship and spiritual depth, family influence, and intergenerational influence.
Youth workers devote a great deal of energy to creating and maintaining vibrant high school ministries in local congregations. But what happens to these youth when they graduate and move away to college? What can high school youth workers do to help students navigate this transition more effectively? The College Transition Project is an ongoing quantitative and qualitative study of this transition. The present article focuses on the first wave of a 3-year longitudinal study of 222 high school seniors who were graduates of youth groups across the United States with the intention of following them as they make their transition to college. This article examines seniors' attitudes regarding youth group, engagement in risk behaviors, sources of support, and levels of religiosity. Potential philosophical and programmatic implications for youth and college workers and church leaders working with youth and college students are also discussed.
Literature identifies individuals and institutions as potentially significant contributors to the development of gender identity in young males. However, the views of the men interviewed for the study reported in this paper, which was undertaken in New Zealand, suggest that potential is not being realized. The experiences and perceptions of the men interviewed provoke consideration of the maps and signposts that are provided for those on the journey to manhood.
Thirty undergraduate senior students at two Christian colleges participated in a semi-structured interview designed to gain a better understanding of students' conceptions, experiences, and ideals of community since they became college students. The interview yielded tape recordings, then transcribed raw data. Authenticity emerged as a prominent theme resulting from verbal analysis and will be the focus of this paper. Implications are drawn for the Christian college campus or church-based college ministry.
A renewed interest in social action has captured this generation of Christian college students. This movement represents a change from previous generations, in which those committed to the truth and evangelism kept a distance from social justice issues. Conversely, those who embraced action often did so at the expense of scriptural authority or the exclusivity of Christ. A new generation of students does not see the divide, but for the most part cannot articulate why the two should be linked. By teaching a holistic gospel that proclaims the Kingdom of God, Christian educators have the opportunity to help these students ground their action in their faith. Students can move beyond simply doing something that makes them "feel good" to embracing the Kingdom of God in a way that gives meaning to their actions, develops an integrated life, and demonstrates the power of the gospel as a witness to the world.
Sociology and anthropology have not often been the focus of attention for insight into Christian education. A survey of the first 25 years of the Christian Education Journal found the term sociology was used in 61 articles, while anthropology was found in 36 articles-about half of those refer to the discipline of anthropology, in contrast with a subcategory of theology or philosophy. Only three authors include sociology as part of their qualifications (an author of the present article was one of them), while only one includes anthropology in their qualifications. Usually sociology or anthropology is in the title of a cited reference, yet when mentioned in the body of an article they are mentioned without positive or negative comment. Positive comments were increasingly common, most frequently found in the last few years, while negative comments were fairly rare. Perhaps the most vivid example of a negative reaction is Kenneth Gangel's (2004) heading titled "Enemies of Spiritual Values" under which he lists sociology and may imply anthropology should be included.1
This mini-series considers the current and widespread trend of church-based small groups for adult spiritual formation. It is proposed that a focus on relationships must be kept in balance with learning and application of biblical truth in order for greater spiritual growth to result. The mini-series appears in three parts: The first article assesses small group ministries for an understanding of the current state of its sometimes-blemished practice. In addition, a review of Christian-oriented small group literature is included as well as an annotated bibliography of non-Christian-oriented small group literature. The second article (Fall 2008) is intended to augment small group practice by adapting key educational insights from the academic disciplines of group dynamics, communication theory, and educational psychology. The third article (Spring 2009) anchors small group practice by delving into the unique spiritual aspects of learning and addresses the biblical/theological apologetic for the centrality of Scripture. Finally, suggested applications are given for small group leaders and trainers of leaders as to how adults may be more effectively stimulated to learn and grow through such group involvement.
Christian educators need proactive criteria to explore the nature of personal transformation in conversation with new insights from science and technology. Many current approaches treat technology cautiously or focus upon utopian threats. An alternative approach anchored in a view of the practicing self moves beyond traditional Cartesian dualism to offer an alternative approach to understanding holistic formation-even the place of transformation-in the midst of technology. The following research essay offers a mediating position by asserting a role for technological practice that contributes to a sense of relationality, contextuality and complexity. The presentation includes current scientific insights on emergence, as well as the nature of Christian practice, ritual, and developmental theory.
Many of the approaches to education found in traditional settings in Africa, though largely abandoned today in favor of modern approaches, can be shown to contain some principles being espoused in modern education. Exploration of African traditional forms of education will therefore yield ideas that are helpful to learning in Africa today. This paper explores possibilities for doing Christian education using opportunities provided by the corn-threshing activities of the Lelna of Kebbi State in Nigeria. This is important because for a long time to come many of the recipients of Christian education among the Lelna of Kebbi State of Nigeria, much like other groups in Nigeria, will live in rural areas and practice traditional forms of education.
This article explores a biblical and theological reflection on the meaning of teaching in Jesus' name. It proposes that the five Christian virtues of truth, love, faith, hope, and joy serve to guide teaching that faithfully represents Jesus today.
The Bible and the task of teaching. By David I Smith and John Shortt. Nottingham, U.K.: The Stapleford Centre. 2002.
Review by Donald Ratcliff, Christian Formation and Ministry Department, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.
“Education has nothing to do with theology”: James Michael Lee’s social science religious instruction. By Edward J. Newell. Eugene, OR: Pickwick (Wipf & Stock). 2006.
Review by Randall Nolan, Briercrest Distance Learning, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Called to reach: Equipping cross-cultural disciples. By William R. Yount and Mike Barnett. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman. 2007.
Review by Don K. Ashley, Religion, Wayland Baptist University, Anchorage, AK.
That’s a great question: What to say when your faith is challenged. By Glenn Pearson. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor. 2007.
Review by Robert A. Gowins, Minister of Education, Inglewood Baptist Church, Nashville, TN
Huck’s raft: A history of American childhood. By Steven Mintz. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 2004.
Review by Dean Blevins, Christian Education, Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO.
The danger of raising nice kids: Preparing our children to change their world. By Timothy Smith. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press. 2006.
Review by Elaine Becker, Degree Completion, Tyndale University College, Toronto, Ontario.
Nurturing children’s spirituality: Christian perspectives and best practices. Edited by Holly Catterton Allen. Eugene, OR: Cascade. 2008.
Reviewed by Lisa Milligan Long, Christian Formation, Lee University, Cleveland, TN.
Contemplative youth ministry: Practicing the presence of Jesus. By Mark Yaconelli.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2006. 251pp. $19.99.
Review by Yong (Jake) H. Kim, Education Director, Hanbit Church, San Diego,
CA, and Ph.D. in Educational Studies student, Talbot Theological Seminary, La
Triangular teaching: A new way of teaching the Bible to adults. By Barbara
Bruce. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor. 2007. 256pp. $15.00. paper.
Review by Robert A. Gowins, Minister of Education, Inglewood Baptist Church,
Encouraging authenticity and spirituality in higher education. By A. W. Chickering,
J. C. Dalton, & Liesa Stamm. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2005. 358
pp. $ 34.00.
Review by Myoungyou Hong, Education Ministry, Hanbit Church, San Diego
and Ph.D. in Educational Studies student, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada,
Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. By Robert D.
Putnam. New York: Simon & Schuster. 2000. $16.00. 544 pp. paper.
Review by John Tuttle, Student Development, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.
The lost virtue of happiness: Discovering the disciplines of the good life. By J.P.
Moreland and Klaus Issler. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress. 2006. 217
pp. $ 14.99. paper
Review by Jackie L. Smallbones, Religion and Christian Education, Northwestern
College, Orange City, IA.
Ancient-future time: Forming spirituality through the Christian year. By Robert
E. Webber. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. 2004. 201pp. $16.99. paper.
Review by Hank Voss, The Urban Ministry Institute of Los Angeles, Los Angeles,
Eat this book: A conversation in the art of spiritual reading. By Eugene H. Peterson.
Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. 2006. 186pp. $20.00.
Review by Taewoo (Jeremy) Ryu, Youth Pastor, Bethel Korean Church, Irvine,
CA, and Ph.D. in Educational Studies student, Talbot School of Theology, La
The Jesus way: A conversation on the ways that Jesus is the way. By Eugene H.
Peterson. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 2007. 289 pp. $22.00.
Review by Halee G. Scott, Adjunct Faculty, Haggard Graduate School of Theology,
Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA.
The following 10 textbooks target community development and spiritual maturity through the building of relationships in small groups. Books were selected from those recommended by NAPCE members in a survey conducted during the 2006 Conference in Denver, CO. Multiple professors used several of the texts reviewed. Each review below grows out of experienced classroom use by that reviewer.
The big book on small groups: Featuring a complete program for training small group leaders. Revised edition. By Jeffrey Arnold. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 2004.
Life together. By Dietrich Bonhoeffer. San Francisco: HarperOne. 2003 (originally published in 1939).
Making small groups work: What every small group leader needs to know. By Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2003.
How people grow: What the Bible reveals about personal growth. By Henry Cloud and John Townsend. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2001.
Truly the community: Romans 12 and how to be the church. By Marva Dawn. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. 1997 (originally published in 1992).
Leading life-changing small groups. By William Donahue. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2002.
Walking the small group tightrope: Meeting the challenges every group faces. By Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2003.
The connecting church: Beyond small groups to authentic community. By Randy Frazee. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2001.
Community that is Christian: A handbook on small groups. By Julie A. Gorman. Second edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2002.
The search to belong: Rethinking intimacy, community, and small groups. By Joseph Myers. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2003.
Tom Bergler. Ministry and Missions. Huntington College/Link Institute, Huntington, IN. (TB)
Gary Bussmann. Christian Education and Spiritual Formation. Lincoln Christian College, Lincoln, IL. (GB)
Julie A Gorman. Christian Formation and Discipleship. Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA. (JG)
Mike Parrott. Ministry and Mission. Cedarville University, Cedarville, OH. (MP)
David Setran. Department of Educational Ministries. Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. (DS)
The past decade has provided the professor a wealth of evangelical textbooks in the area of spirituality and spiritual formation. The ten books selected below are ideal for general courses at the college and seminary level. Foster and Mulholland have written two of the most widely used books in spiritual formation. Both are well-written, balanced, and have a decidedly applied focus. Demarest and Issler are good choices for textbooks because of the well-told journey of the authors into the deeper life with God. The remaining books are deserving of a place in more specialized courses.
Foster, Richard J. Celebration of discipline: The path to spiritual growth (20th anniversary ed.). San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco, 1998.
Mulholland, M. Robert. Invitation to a journey: A road map for spiritual formation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.
Demarest, Bruce. Satisfy your soul: Restoring the heart of Christian spirituality. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999.
Issler, Klaus. Wasting time with God: A Christian spirituality of friendship with God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2001.
Allen, Diogenes. Spiritual theology: The theology of yesterday for spiritual help today. Cambridge, MA: Cowley, 1997.
Boa, Kenneth. Conformed to his image: Biblical and practical approaches to spiritual formation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.
Bakke, Jeannette. Holy invitations: Exploring spiritual direction, 2000. 288pp.
Chan, Simon. Spiritual theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1998.
Lovelace, Richard F. Dynamics of spiritual life: An evangelical theology of renewal. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1979.
Willard, Dallas. The spirit of the disciplines: Understanding how God changes lives. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1999.
Howard, Evan. The Brazos introduction to Christian spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, (May) 2008.
James C. Wilhoit. Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered: Growing in Christ through Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, (February) 2008.