I was recently able to read Andrew Root's forthcoming book, Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker (coming out this October). In this book, Andrew Root--a pioneering theologian of youth ministry--once again takes a courageous step by offering a book that will appeal both to youth workers and to theologians (particularly, in this case, Bonhoeffer scholars). For the Bonhoeffer scholar, he offers Bonhoeffer's ministry to young people as a hermeneutical lens for interpreting his life and work. Conscious of the "Bonhoeffer phenomenon"--in which everybody tries to claim Bonhoeffer as their own (as the ultimate evangelical or the ultimate political radical, or the ultimate liberal) by zeroing in on one aspect of his thought or experience of his life--Root looks to present Bonhoeffer's youth ministry as a consistent lens for understanding his development of thought. Bonhoeffer's theology didn't develop out of the ether, but emerged from his relationships and from his engagement in the concrete lived experience of the young people to whom he ministered throughout his life. Bonhoeffer scholars who read this book will see Bonhoeffer in a new light. Reading him as a youth worker allows for a fresh perspective on the great German theologian which gives potential to new contextual interpretations of his theology.
To youth workers, Root offers Bonhoeffer as the "forefather" of the "theological turn in youth ministry." Identifying the theological turn specifically as ministry which "seeks to share in the concrete and lived experience of young people as the very place to share in the act and being of God," Root shows how Bonhoeffer pioneered this turn in his own youth ministry and, in so doing, Root offers Bonhoeffer to youth workers as a great teacher, their forefather. Youth workers who read this book will find in the life of Bonhoeffer examples of relational youth ministry that will enhance and challenge contemporary youth ministry strategies. The final two chapters of the book will be of significant importance (in fact, they could be read on their own) for youth workers as Root walks through the implications that Bonhoeffer's two most popular works have for the practice of youth ministry. He will challenge the ways we typically think of discipleship and community and challenge us to new ways of ministering to the young people in our churches.
Andrew Root says in his introduction that "this books comes out of great joy." This was not, first and foremost, a book written out of necessity, but a book that Root simply wanted to write. On each page, Root's joy in the project comes forth and it's truly a blessing to the reader who shares in this joy. The book is just seeping with insight and it's truly a pleasure to read.
You can preorder your copy of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker now and get it as soon as it comes out in October.