Saturday, February 23, 2008

Postmodern Youth Ministry

I just finished reading Postmodern Youth Ministry by Tony Jones. I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at the in-depth look at our postmodern world and its implications for present- and future-youth ministry. Jones surveys the postmodern landscape, evaluates the historical movements that have led us to postmodernism, then offers practical tools and suggestions for how to navigate this emerging philosophy.

It's definitely more a book about philosophy and paradigm shifts than a new model for youth ministry. It's much more academic and theological than many other youth ministry books I've read, which can make it feel less accessible. But I found Jones's insights extremely valuable, and will probably be purchasing and reading a number of the books he cites as sources. I also enjoyed not only Jones's insights, but the insights of a number of pastors, theologians, and postmodern experts who contributed to the conversation. Their thoughts--which sometimes countered Jones's--were extremely helpful in the thought process. It created a helpful dialogue.

As someone who would probably be labeled as postmodern (though I react negatively against that label...which probably just makes me even more postmodern!), I resonated with the ideas about a holistic approach to discipleship, a need for theological language, and a desire to communicate the beautiful story of Scripture. My only negative criticism is the book's format. It has a very scattered layout--maybe an attempt at a postmodern book format?--which can make it difficult to read some of the quotes and made the book feel a bit disjointed.

Overall, a great book for those interested in understanding the postmodern paradigm and its implications for youth ministry and the church!

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