This issue’s “Special Focus” is on ministry with emerging generations in a post-Christian world. Increasingly, as our culture shifts away from previous Judeo-Christian assumptions and perspectives, we need to be able to introduce people to the “olde” story of God’s redemptive work and message in “new” ways that do not carry the baggage of associations with past ineffective or offensive actions by the church and its leaders. Steve Kang, from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is our guest editor for this “Special Focus,” and will introduce the purpose and focus of the articles he has recruited in his guest editorial. I know you will find these articles interesting, and I trust they will be helpful as you consider ways to strengthen the church’s ministry with those growing up in this post-Christian world.
The challenge of creating an effective, lasting, transformative Christian discipleship has become more difficult in our current cultural milieu. During a narrative study of emerging adult faith development, participants connected disparate life experiences in the process of developing and discussing their faith biographies. These narrative connections created an environment for transformative learning to occur. In this article, I use narrative methods to inform the practice of emerging adult discipleship to encourage transformation. This article forwards narrative as useful in developing an effective method of discipleship for emerging adults.
Key words: discipleship, transformative learning, narrative, narrative identity, emerging adults
This article offers Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a resource for educational ministry by placing him in conversation with what Richard Osmer calls the normative task of practical theology. In response to the practical theological question “What ought to be going on?” in a given ministry context,
Bonhoeffer answers: “Discipleship.” Bonhoeffer’s concepts of revelation, ecclesiology, and Christology inform a distinct theology of discipleship that culminates in his notion that “religionless Christianity” is the very possibility of discipleship. In addition to Osmer, Bonhoeffer’s ideas are interpreted in relationship to Ray Anderson, Andrew Root, and Darrell Guder.
Keywords: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, discipleship, revelation, ecclesiology, Christopraxis, religionless Christianity
In recent years, the spiritual formation of children has received considerable attention from scholars in the fields of theology, church history, and practical theology. In what ways, if any, are those theories and insights being received by local churches? The intent of this project was to explore ways that the new forms of church that have appeared in North America in the past 20 years minister with children and their families. Visits and phone interviews were made to 25 new-form churches. This article reports the findings of that investigation, noting patterns of similarity and difference in the views of children and the types of ministries the children experience.
This qualitative research explored the question “What meanings do children make of the Bible stories presented in Sunday school?” It consisted of a 3-month case study of one elementary Sunday school program. Data included field notes, audio recordings, photographs, and artifacts. Analysis of the data suggested five main categories of children’s responses to Bible stories: (a) prompted or prescribed meanings, (b) associative meanings, (c) original and creative meanings, (d) dissenting or contradictory meanings, and (e) imposed but resisted meanings.
I believe it was around 1997 when I was first introduced to Rodney Clapp’s A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society
(1996). Clapp argues that Christianity no longer serves as the dominant civic religion in America. Being a “young and restless” evangelical type myself, I was drawn to his fearless and almost merciless critique of certain evangelical establishments and leader types. I’d found his work to be most refreshing and restorative for the evangelical churches in America, so much so that I had all the graduating students in both undergraduate and graduate educational ministries programs at Wheaton College read the book and engage in lively discussions.
Yet it was not until recent years that I really started experiencing the consequences of the so-called post-Christian conditions in North America. You see, a few years ago I moved from the “center” of American evangelicalism to one of the two major outposts of a post-Christian America: New England. Somehow, I managed to convince myself and my family that “God was calling” us to leave the comfort of Wheaton, Illinois (the “center”, yet much less prominent than previous decades) to migrate to New England, especially Boston, as a “missionary unit” to the bastion of secular academia’s center for “Christ’s sake.” Little was I prepared for what was waiting for us in New England, the once center of Christianity and Christian learning in America.
The National Study of Youth and Religion has been a highly influential research effort for those who teach youth ministry in higher education or lead youth ministry in church and parachurch settings. This interview with Christian Smith explores some of the major themes emerging from the research and their application in educational/youth ministry settings.
In post-Christian American culture, emerging adult vocational discernment has become a more protracted and complex process. If ministers are going to utilize this discernment process for emerging adult spiritual formation, they must address two significant domains. First, this culture tends to produce a dualistic and compartmentalized vision of vocation, constricting the fullness of the Christian story. Second, the culture has deified choice, threatening vocational commitment while blinding emerging adults to the already-present action of God. This article addresses these challenges and discusses the theological and practical means by which the Church can foster a renewed vision of vocational faithfulness. While the cultural scripts for vocational living emphasize a narrowed vocational sphere and the expansion of options, the Christian narrative points to a different posture: vocation rooted in purpose and providence.
This article addresses intergenerational fragmentation within the church’s teaching ministry which undermines the unity and purpose of the body of Christ. This phenomenon is the consequence of an overreliance on the social sciences which, combined with a preference for formal education models, fuels fragmentation between generations. Drawing on the Christian tradition’s rich history and theology, this article describes and assesses the philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of generational fragmentation; explores biblically and theologically how generations ought to be integrated with the teaching ministry; and suggests ways of cultivating an ethos that embodies the church’s commitments.
KEY WORDS: Christian Education, Teaching Ministries, Educational Ministries, Developmentalism, Practical Theology, Intergenerational Fragmentation, Postmodernism, Biblical Theology, Globalism, Congregations, Ministry
This articles advocates for the renewal of Christian education as a culturally informative, formative, and transformative ministry of the Christian church in the third millennium. It proposes an intergenerational approach to counter the age-segregated character of contemporary life in the United States and globally.
As missions becomes increasingly multicultural, leaders and teachers in these settings are faced with many joys and challenges. This article explores current trends and some critical issues for successful multicultural leadership in mission settings.
Thinking through Christian education in a post-Christian world involves a broad approach that looks outward at society and culture, understanding
the dynamics of a world that is “smaller” and more complex than ever, and viewing the dominant world and life view of our day, postmodernism, through discerning yet not reactionary eyes. This approach also peers inward at the church, recognizing the global nature of Christ’s body and thoughtfully tackling how society may be influencing her instead of the other way around. It may also involve looking backward, seeing where we have come from as a society and as a church, and identifying patterns that may be repeating themselves, as well as looking forward by being mindful of the current trajectory of our culture and this latest generation. All these things are viewed in the light of God through theology. With this in mind, here are a number of resources that help with this multifaceted approach.
In 1976, I was hired as a professor in the Department of Secondary Education at the University of Alberta after finishing my doctoral work at the
University of Texas. As a graduate student in Texas, I had the good fortune to work with two wonderful academic mentors—Joanne Sweeney and O. L.
Davis—who provided both encouragement and opportunities to write and publish. I was fortunate to begin publishing so early in my academic career.
Over the past 35 years, I have published more than 200 academic books and articles. This paper offers a number of practical tips that reflect my learning over the past 35 years. I trust these tips might help young academics write and publish more fluently. I have included “reading” in the title of the article because I see reading as an integral part of the experience.
In this section 18 books are reviewed, presented in the following general order: children/family ministry, youth ministry, adult ministry, foundations, teaching-learning process, spirituality/ spiritual formation, and leadership/administration—although reviews may not appear for each area. A list of each area and responsible editors appears after the last review in this section. We invite readers to consider reviewing a book for CEJ. Guidelines are available in downloadable documents at www.biola.edu/cej under Publications Policy on the drop down menu.
Seeing children, seeing God: A practical theology of children and poverty. By Pamela D. Couture. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 2000.
Review by Lisa Milligan Long, Christian Education, Lee University, Cleveland, TN.
The children of divorce. By Andrew Root. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. 2010.
Review by Scott Floyd, Psychology and Counseling, B.H. Carroll Theological Institute, Arlington, TX.
Spiritual parenting: An awakening for today’s families. By Michelle Anthony. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook. 2010.
Review by Bob R. Bayles, Discipleship and Christian Formation, Lee University, Cleveland, TN.
Baby boomers and beyond: Tapping the ministry talents and passions of adults over 50. By Amy Hanson. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 2010.
Review by Scott W. Jones, Christian Ministry, Bryan College, Dayton, TN.
Recovering the real lost gospel: Reclaiming the gospel as good news. By Darrell L. Bock. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. 2010.
Review by Mariana Hwang, Children and Family Ministry and Educational Leadership and Discipleship, Lincoln Christian University, Lincoln, IL.
Ministry is . . . how to serve Jesus with passion and confidence. By Dave Earley and Ben Gutierrez. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. 2010.
Review by Stephen K. McCord, Global Research, International Mission Board, SBC, Richmond, VA.
Conflict and resolution: Progressive educators and the question of religion. By Jared R. Stallones. Edited by Karen L. Riley. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. 2010.
Review by Tony Higgins, Division of Religion and Philosophy, Brewton-Parker College, Mount Vernon, GA.
Created to learn: A Christian teacher’s introduction to educational psychology. 2nd ed. By William R. Yount. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Academic. 2010.
Review by Dawn R. Morton, Christian Formation, Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, OH.
The passionate intellect: Christian faith and the discipleship of the mind. By Alistair McGrath. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 2010.
Review by Mark Eckel, Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Professor of Old Testament, Crossroads Bible College, Indianapolis, IN.
Teaching that transforms: Facilitating life change through adult Bible teaching. By Rick Melick and Shera Melick. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing. 2010.
Review by Richard A. Holt, Teaching Elder, First Baptist Church of Downey, Downey, CA.
Spiritual formation: Following the movements of the Spirit. Henri J. M. Nouwen, Rebecca Laird, and Michael Christensen. New York, NY: HarperCollins. 2010.
Review by Beverly Johnson-Miller, Christian Discipleship, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY.
Christian formation: Integrating theology and human development. Edited by James Estep and Jonathan Kim. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Academic. 2010.
Review by Ben Espinoza, MA student, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY.
Taught by God: Teaching and spiritual formation. By Karen Marie Yust and E. Byron Anderson. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press. 2006.
By Linden D. McLaughlin, Christian Education Department, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX.
Ancient-future worship: Proclaiming and enacting God’s narrative. By Robert E. Webber. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. 2008. 191 pp.
Review by Timothy J. Ralston, Pastoral Ministries, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX.
Diversity’s promise for higher education: Making it work. By Daryl G. Smith. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 2009.
Review by Beatriz González, candidate, PhD in Educational Studies, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.
Wellbeing: The five essential elements. By Tom Rath and Jim Harter. New York: Gallup Press. 2010.
Review by Cesar Morales, MTh, Academic Dean, Evangelical Seminary of Lima, Peru.
Getting naked: A business fable about shedding the three fears that sabotage client loyalty. By Patrick Lencioni. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2010.
Review by Dave Keehn, Christian Ministries, Biola University, La Mirada, CA.
Lead or leave: A primer for college presidents and board members. By Roger H. Hull. Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books. 2010.
Review by Paul Wright, Rector, Instituto Bíblico Evangélico, Mendoza, República Argentina.