Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Reading List

Youth & Family Ministry

    Almost Christian - What The Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
    by Kenda Creasy Dean
    This is an analysis and follow-up to the National Study of Youth and Religion. The author makes a case for how we must move beyond the watered-down religion that too often gets passed off as Christianity.

    From the Great Omission to Vibrant Faith-The Role of the Home in Renewing the Church
    by David W. Anderson

    This is a great follow-up to "Frogs Without Legs." Anderson makes a compelling case for the importance of sharing faith at home for children’s faith development.

    For Heaven’s Sake - Parenting Preschoolers Faithfully
    by Marilyn Shar
    This is a realistic, encouraging and supportive book for all who want to nurture faith in Jesus Christ in the home, while using proven methods for raising great preschoolers.

    Damaged Goods - Women Living with Incurable Sexually Transmitted Diseases
    by Adina Nack
    The author is Associate Professor of Sociology at California Lutheran University. The book addresses vital information in a compelling and engaging way that will be valuable for those living with STDs as well as those who care for them.

    Soul Searching
    by Christian Smith & Melinda Lundquist Denton
    Soul Searching talks about the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. It is based on research done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2001 to 2005. Although the statistical analysis sometimes becomes tedious, it’s a book well worth reading. Basically, it concludes that teenagers for the most part accept the religion of their families, but have minimal understanding of how that religion informs their lives.

    Frogs Without Legs Can’t Hear
    by David Anderson & Paulo Hill
    We know how to do child, youth and family ministry in the 21st century. Read about it here. This an excellent resource for parents concerned about their children’s faith development. It’s also a book that all pastors and congregation council members should read.

    The Godbearing Life --The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry
    by Kenda Creasy Dean & Ron Foster
    A must read! Kenda Creasy Dean is professor of Youth, Church & Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. Nate Frambach, a professor at Wartburg Seminary, rates her as one of the most outstanding voices in the country encouraging youth and family ministry. Her book describes how the whole church community needs to support and encourage faith development in families. It’s more about a way of doing ministry in the 21st century than ministry to youth.

    Passing On The Faith--A Radical New Model for Youth & Family Ministry
    by Merton P. Strommen & Richard A. Hardel
    Two giants in the field of youth and family ministry, Strommen and Hardel present what some consider the text book on how the church needs to do ministry in the 21st century.

    Starting Right - Thinking Theologically About Youth Ministry
    by Kenda Creasy Dean, Wesley Black & Karen Jones
    This is a great textbook for those involved in child, youth and family ministries. The authors open with the premise that, "Unless those of us in youth ministry learn to approach our calling as a theological enterprise, asking ourselves why we pastor youth in the ways that we do, we risk turning youth ministry into a giant Saturday Night Live skit… Put simply, theological reflection keeps the practice of youth ministry focused on God and not on us. It makes possible radical congruency between what we say and what we believe and how we conduct our lives. Without theological reflection in our ministry with young people, we will be living like atheists in no time."

The Church in the 21st Century

    A Good Time to be the Church
    by Bishop H. George Anderson
    You can read this in two hours. Bishop Anderson challenges us to start thinking differently about the church. He talks about the changing culture and why he’s upbeat about the church’s opportunities in it.

    The End of the World As We Know It
    by Chuck Smith, Jr.
    Chuck Smith is senior pastor at Capo Beach Calvary (www.calvarychapel.com) in Capistrano Beach, California. He works with the emerging generations of the postmodern age. He says he was part of what he calls the "fundamentalist subculture" of the 1960s. Recognizing how outdated, parochial and rigid that was, he has since abandoned that style. He says his awakening came when pioneering Christian rocker, Larry Norman, retrieved a war call of Martin Luther: "Why does the devil have to have all the good music?"

    Liquid Church
    by Pete Ward
    Pete Ward is from the Anglican Communion. "Liquid Church" is how he sees authentic church forming in the post-modern culture of the 21st century. You have to read his book with an open mind. Pete Ward is very critical of the organized churches of the latter part of the 20th century, which he calls "Solid Church," and takes them to task for their club mentality which has excluded people of the postmodern culture.

    Across The Generations
    Augsburg Fortress
    A collection of essays on incorporating all ages in ministry. Gen X, the Boomers, Millennials, who they are, their characteristics and how can we bring them together. This is a great resource for helping to understand these different cultures.

    The Practicing Congregation
    by Diana Butler Bass
    Imagining a new, old church. How mainline churches are experiencing a new vitality through innovative engagement with traditional Christian practices.

    The Present Future
    by Reggie McNeal
    On developing disciples instead of "church members" and focusing on spiritual formation rather than church programs.

Youth Culture

    A Tribe Apart -- A Journey Into the Heart of American Adolescence
    by Patricia Hersch
    Patricia Hersch spent several years with a group of teenagers in a town in Virginia. She gained their trust and they opened up to her. She talks about how isolated these teenagers feel from the world of the adults around them and how they cope in that world.

    Seen & Heard --Teenagers Talk About Themselves
    by Mary Kalergis
    Mary Kalergis is a photojournalist. One day she heard her teenagers talking about how no one ever took the time to listen to them. "Seen & Heard" is an album interviewing teenagers who shared their pain and dreams with her.

    Coming of Age
    by Davis Anderson, Paul Hill, Roland Martinson
    Exploring the identity and spirituality of younger men.

Other Good Stuff

    Putting Family First
    by William Doherty & Barbara Carlson
    Families are under stress. Everyone is hyper-scheduled. No one has time to sit and talk; neither parents with their children nor spouses. Doherty challenges parents to take control of their schedules so they have the time to develop the family relationships that have always made families strong.

    Messy Spirituality
    by Michael Yaconelli
    The author shares insights gleaned from years of working in youth and family ministry. This is the last book he wrote before he was tragically killed in an auto accident.

    Merchants of Cool -- Frontline
    "Merchants of Cool," a video created by Frontline, was aired on PBS a couple of years ago. This is an excellent expose on how teenagers are targeted by merchandisers to sell their goods. "Youth Culture" was invented by the advertising industry to sell stuff to teenagers who represent a $400 billion dollar industry. To understand youth culture, you must see this!

Prepared by Deacon Charlie Germain

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