Youth workers haven’t always been famous for deep theological reflection.
In fact, youth ministry has been blamed by some for the bigger problem of the church’s lack of theological depth.
But even though youth ministry is more famous for games like “Chubby Bunny” (which, if I’m not mistaken, has been mostly banned) and other strange games involving food, there has been a shift—a “theological turn,” if you will, in youth ministry (see Kenda Creasy Dean and Andrew Root’s The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry).
Thinking theologically is more commonplace in youth ministry than ever before in the United States, as more and more youth workers are realizing the theological nature of the task of ministry. It’s not strange anymore for a youth pastor to know something about John Calvin or Paul Tillich or to find youth workers having theological conversations at their conventions and conferences.
But the theological turn in youth ministry is more than just a revival of theological interest. It’s not just about youth workers reading more theology and applying it to their situation. It’s about youth workers seeing their youth ministry itself as theological—as a place to learn more about God, and as an opportunity to attend to and share in what God is doing in the midst of what young people are actually experiencing.
To be a good youth worker is not just to know what Karl Barth’s answer would be to a practical problem, it’s being able to see what God is doing and to participate in it, inviting young people to do the same. [Read More]
This article was originally published on Kindred Youth Ministry in October, 2016.