Tag Archives: andrew root

2 Sentence Book Reviews: Church Ministry or Youth Ministry-Related

i’m overdue for some book reviews, and will be posting reviews of 23 books this week. as i’ve done in the past, i’m posting two sentence book reviews. in each case, the first sentence is a summary of the book; and the second sentence is my thoughts on the book. i include a 1 – 5 star rating also. and occasionally, i’ll have an additional note.

today’s reviews are a mash-up category — some church ministry books and some youth ministry-related books (i call some of these ‘youth ministry-related,’ as they’re not really youth ministry books, but are books i’m reviewing for youth workers):

it's complicatedIt’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, by danah boyd
4.5 stars
research-based explanation of how and why teens use social media from the world’s leading expert. even though the book gets a bit repetitive at points, i wish i could get every parent of teenagers and every youth worker to read the introduction to this book.

bonhoeffer as youth workerBonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together, by Andrew Root
5 stars
rather than my normal two sentences, here’s the official endorsement i wrote for must-read youth ministry book:
“Wow. I have, quite literally, never read a youth ministry book anything like this: full of history and story and theological articulation and implication. Absolutely fascinating.”

got religion?Got Religion?: How Churches, Mosques, and Synagogues Can Bring Young People Back, by Naomi Schaefer Riley
5 stars
a journalistic overview of young adult ministries in various faiths, highlighting case studies of what’s working. story-driven and easy to read, i’ve started regularly recommending this book to those who care about the faith of college students and young adults.

brainstormBrainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, by Daniel J. Siegel MD
3 stars
understanding the teenage brain from a perspective of its power, specialization, and potential. often boring (i found the exercises to be annoying and useless filler) and off-subject, there are some stunning gems in here for those with the patience to sift.

more than just the talkMore Than Just the Talk: Becoming Your Kids’ Go-To Person About Sex, by Jonathan McKee
4 stars
rather than my normal two sentences, here’s the official endorsement i wrote for this parenting book:
So many books on this topic are written by people who don’t actually interact with real teenagers. But McKee is a practitioner first, a frontline youth worker with current and regular interactions with Christian teenagers wrestling with the intersection of their faith and their sexuality. Never condescending to teenagers or parents, Jon brings his blunt and honest writing style to a subject I wish more parents were talking about with their teens.

wrapping up this series tomorrow with two christian nonfiction books.

the future of youth ministry, episode 4

i led a late night discussion at the national youth workers convention this past fall on “the future of youth ministry”. in preparation for that discussion, i emailed a few dozen friends with better youth ministry minds than my own, and asked them to complete the sentence, “the future of youth ministry….” about 15 of them responded (often with more than a sentence!). i’m posting them here as a series, sometimes with a bit of commentary from myself, and sometimes merely as a reflection-prod. would love to hear your responses.
episode 1
episode 2
episode 3

while the last episode, with kara powell and brad griffin’s comments, focused on intergenerational ministry, andy root and lars rood (hmm, last name similarity?) narrow that focus a bit more to parents. i have noticed that discussion about youth ministry often makes these two subjects (intergenerational ministry and parent ministry) one and the same; but they’re not. there’s some overlap, to be sure; but the intergenerational question is more focused on helping teenagers rub shoulders with the whole community of faith, while the parent question is more focused on the role of parents in the faith formation of teenagers, and understanding the family systems teenagers live in.

mini bios:
andy root (andrew, if you’re looking for his books and such) is the associate professor of youth and family ministry at luther seminary. andy’s first book is on the top 10 youth ministry books list of lots of thoughtful youth ministry peeps: revisiting relational youth ministry. after that, andy cranked out 3 books in the time it takes many to read 3 books (relationships unfiltered, the promise of despair, and children of divorce). in short: dude is wicked smart.

lars rood is, in my opinion, one of the next wave of youth ministry voices. the lead youth minister at highland park presbyterian church in dallas, lars is one of the very, very few practicing youth workers with a doctorate. he’s got a book coming out soon, and i expect will have much more to say to us in the years to come.

here’s what andy and lars had to say (andy mentions more than parents, but i’m grouping these two together since they both touch on that question):

Andy Root
In the next few decades youth ministry will need to face the following: a way to actually work with families in a very complicated familial cultural locale, a way of dealing with pluralism–being able to claim the particularity of Jesus without it sliding into rigidity, and to find a robust theological position that connects revelation (the way we understand God’s revealing presence) with our practices and strategies of day to day ministry.

Lars Rood
I’m scared of one thing. How much we are going to have to shift things to draw parents into their faith for the first time. I think parent ministry is going to be a huge new reality of youth pastors.

here’s my 2 cents: i think there has been a LOT of talk about engaging parents and working with parents and parent ministry (and “family ministry”) in the last 10 or more years. but, other than youth workers trying to increase communication, and offering a parent event once in a while, i’ve seen very little rubber hitting the road. mostly what i see are middle aged youth workers changing their titles to “pastor of family ministries”, or something similar, as a way of sounding like they’re doing more, so they can warrant a salary on which they can survive. yeah, that’s snarky and pessimistic; but it’s what i’ve seen. i’m sure there are myriad exceptions; but they’re in the minority.

all the research out there (like christian smith’s stuff) shows us what we know, but often don’t want to admit: parents have a WAY bigger impact on their teenagers’ faith than we do. when we DO admit that, it’s usually our rationale for a student who didn’t respond to our amazing ministry efforts.

so what to do? i think lars brings up a good point: we have to engage the faith formation of parents. “but that’s not my job!” some would say. well, maybe it needs to be…

get a free copy of ‘relationships unfiltered’

got an email from my friend andy root, asking if i would consider posting this offer from him. and, heck, i’ll not just post it because i like andy and think he’s one of the truly brilliant youth ministry researchers/thinkers/authors out there, whose books are significant contributions to our thinking and calling. i’ll post it because it’s a free book offer!

andy sez…

Hello Youth Ministry friends, I’m sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog reading, but I have broken transmission to offer you an opportunity.

I wanted to get before you the chance to get a free copy of my book Relationships Unfiltered. As the new school year approaches and you think about volunteer leader meetings and trainings I would like to suggest you take a look at Relationships Unfiltered. It’s written just for this setting with discussion questions and chapters filled with illustrations and stories–but also promises to get you and your team thinking theologically about your core practice this coming school year: forming relationships with young people.

Here’s what I can do: If you’ll email me ([email protected]) I’ll send you a free copy of the book so you can look it over and decide if it would be of help to you and your volunteers. If you’re interested in using it you can then go here or here and type in the code 980752 in the “source code” box. Starting August 1 this will give you a 40% discount on as many books as you’d like.

And I’ll also offer this, if you do use the book with your team, I’m willing to do a select number of skype or ichat conversations with you and your team after getting through the book.

mini-reviews of books recently read, part 2 (of 2)

the children of divorce: the loss of family as the loss of being, by andrew root

5 stars
i’m tellin’ ya, andy root is a prolific author, and he’s cranking out a crazy-wide variety of books that youth workers (and others) need to read. in the last few weeks, he released the promise of despair: the way of the cross as the way of the church. and, i just finished reading the galleys for his upcoming release, the children of divorce (which release on august 1). first a book with IVP, then one with YS/Z, then the just released abingdon book, and this upcoming one with baker: apparently publishers want to publish andy root. and there’s a good reason why — he actually has something to say. the children of divorce is an academic book, but certainly not impenetrable. it’s a book of practical theology, bringing in the disciplines of social theory and psychology, to posit some implications on today’s children and teenagers whose parents divorce. one of the most “framing” sections of the book for me was understanding — right up there in chapter 1 — the historical shifts of marriage throughout history, and how that greatly impacts how children (and teens) perceive themselves in the midst or wake of divorce.

i was asked if i would consider writing an endorsement for this book. i never write one unless i’ve actually read the book (amazing how often that isn’t the case). but this book was easy to endorse, as it’s way-important reading for youth workers (and any parent or grandparent — or, anyone who cares about kids). here’s the wee endorsement i wrote:

Youth workers have always know that the impact of divorce on kids was substantially deeper and all-encompassing that pop culture would want us to believe; but Andy Root, thankfully, gives us the articulation for why. Reading the book felt like sitting with Root at a table set up — precariously, uncomfortably — in the 3-way intersection of history, psychology and theology. I learned more about family in the first chapter than from any other entire book I’ve read.

the glass castle: a memoir, by jeannette walls

5 stars
this stunning memoir released several years ago, and it was sitting on our bookshelf, as my wife had read it. i’d heard great things about it, and can only say they undersold it. rarely, if ever, have i read a true story that so defies the “good/bad” continuum on which we like to plot families of origin. really, jeannette walls’ upbringing is ghastly, and one i would not want imposed on even the most annoying or horrible kid i’ve ever met. but, at the very same time (or, more accurately, intermittently) there are regular moments of love and insight and adventure that lift this off that continuum. i’ve met many kids from privileged surburban homes (the opposite of walls’ experience) whose parents provide for physical needs, but spend their lives completely disengaged from their kids in every emotional and relational way. just when i was wanting to smack her parents, they did or said something breathtakingly wonderful. and just when i was thinking i might give them the benefit of the doubt (something the author seems at peace with doing, in the end), her parents become icons of off-the-charts selfishness and stupidity. it’s an amazing story in-and-of-itself; but the implications are greater than the story. most parents (myself included) fall on both sides of the bell curve; only a few fall, consistently, to one side or the other; walls’ parents are so outside the standard deviation in both directions that the bell is no longer meaningful.

the next 100 years: a forecast for the 21st century, by george friedman

4.5 stars
whoa. while one might consider it the height of hubris to write an entire book making predictions about the geopolitics of the world for the next 100 years, the dude pulls it off. what i mean is: when he predicts that russia will gain strength in the next few years, then fall apart by 2020, he offers enough great reasons and backing that it just makes sense. and when he writes about turkey and poland and japan being the three other world superpowers (in addition to the u.s.) by mid-century, it is not posited as an opinion, but, rather, a well-informed hyper-logical estimation. and the world war around 2050? wow. the whole thing started to give me a mental image of a long string of dominos stood on end, expected to knock each other down: if at some point, there’s a little deviation, the string will eventually break down. and the deeper i got into the book, and the later the predictions got into the 2nd half of the 21st century, the harder and harder they were to believe. that said, even the stuff he suggests will occur in 2080 (like, massive tensions between the u.s. and mexico that could be the beginnings of the u.s. slipping from strongest superpower status) seem based in extremely logical and, even, likely realities. fascinating book. i kept thinking of the missions implications of it all!

rides of the midway: a novel, by lee durkee

2 stars
i was looking for a novel to read recently, and found this on my bookshelf, remembering that i’d bought it a few years ago on a recommendation i read somewhere. i dove into it, and was digging it for a while. it’s a sort of coming-of-age story, of a teenage (then college age) boy growing up in the deep south, in the 70s. but i started wondering where the heck the story was going. was it a morality tale? a ghost story? a character piece? just as i started to suspect i was wrong for my early-pages enjoyment of the book, i came to a startling realization. it was a good 3/4 through the book when i realized this: i’d already read the book. now, that tells me something, if i didn’t even remember reading it (knowing it would have been in the last 4 or 5 years, at the most). and, though i finished it — because i hate not finishing books — it was like finishing a meal you are grossly disappointed with. don’t bother.