yesterday, i posted about one of the most significant youth ministry books of the year, april diaz’s Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker. and i told the story of how it came to be. really, the story of brock morgan’s brand new book, Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World, is the same. and it’s also one of the most significant youth ministry books of the year.
in 2012, i was aware of the ministry challenges brock was facing. i’ve known him well for a dozen years; and i was very much paying attention to whether his move to new england, after a youth ministry lifetime on the west coast, would end quickly or not. we chatted somewhere along the way, and i saw how brock was learning more new stuff than he’d likely learned in the previous five years combined (it helps that he’s a humble learner).
so we asked him to speak at The Summit that fall on the assigned topic, “Reaching Teenagers Who Don’t See a Need for Jesus.” like april, brock hit it out of the park. it was one of the talks that people were buzzing about. it was one of the talks that convinced me and adam that The Summit was the right event for the right sort of youth worker (one who’s interested in thinking in new ways). minutes after brock finished speaking, i asked him if he would consider writing the talk as a book. less than a year later, here we are, and the book — Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World — released this week.
here’s a few paragraphs from the first chapter (but you can download a longer sample here):
Stuart Murray defines post-Christianity (or “post-Christendom”) as “The culture that emerges as the Christian faith loses coherence within a society that has been definitively shaped by the Christian story and as the institutions that have been developed to express Christian convictions decline in influence.”
The Christian faith losing coherence? Check.
Christian institutions declining in influence? Check.
It’s a difficult shift to perceive when all the people you hang out with think just like you do. But if you get outside the bubble and really listen, you’ll discover that things really have changed in the world, and they continue to change. You see, a post-Christian world is one in which Christianity is no longer the dominant religion or even the dominant mindset. An evolution has occurred over the past 50-plus years. Slowly and gradually over time, our society has begun to assume values, cultures, and worldviews that aren’t Judeo-Christian. At that youth workers’ conference 20 years ago, I was told this was going to happen. But I didn’t listen. And now that time is upon us.
America is in the midst of this transition from a Judeo-Christian value system into a post-Christian mindset. Oh, you can bet the church is doing a lot of kicking and screaming right now. That’s what happens when the top dog is no longer the top dog. It’s called a power struggle. And when something that’s been dominant within a culture starts to lose its voice, power, and influence…well, it can get pretty ugly. Watch the news and you’ll see that it’s not just ugly; it’s downright toxic.
Some of you might be thinking, No way, Brock! You’re wrong. I’ve read the stats and I’ve seen the research. The majority of people in America and around the world are Christians.
To that I say, “Really? That’s what you think?”
here’s just a sampling of the amazing endorsements that came in for this book:
After reading the draft manuscript I contacted the folks at The Youth Cartel and pre-ordered 25 copies! No joke. Brock’s insight into post-Christian culture and ministry to teens within such a culture are inspiring and refreshing. His optimism for the future burns brightly which makes for a helpful resource that not only deconstructs the current reality but also faithfully constructs a new way forward. This book will undoubtedly assist any youth worker in their pursuit of guiding teens into spiritual formation for the mission of God in a post-Christian culture.
Chris Folmsbee, Author of A New Kind of Youth Ministry and Pastor of Group Life Ministry at Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, KS
Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World is, above all, a story of honesty and hope. There’s not a youth worker alive who won’t resonate with Brock Morgan’s unassuming self-portrait of a ministry (and a youth minister) coming to terms with America’s first explicitly “post-Christian” decades. I felt like I knew the youth in these pages; I groaned with recognition at Morgan’s failures and smiled at God’s grace-giving surprises. Above all, Morgan gives teenagers–and those who love them–what we are desperate for: permission to trust in a God who is far bigger than the moment before us. If you’re looking for another program manual of youth ministry how-to’s and free advice, keep looking. But if you need a friend in the trenches, whose journey will make you feel a little less alone, then this is your next read.
Kenda Creasy Dean, Professor of Youth, Church and Culture, Princeton Theological Seminary, Author of Almost Christian and Practicing Passion
What you’re going to hear in this book is the passionate heart of a thoughtful youth worker who is unwilling to let standard youth ministry operating procedure get in the away of authentic, vital ministry. You won’t have to agree with everything Brock says to recognize that he’s asking important questions. This isn’t just hand-wringing. Particularly in the last few chapters there are some helpful, practical steps for the way forward. Well-worth a read!
Dr. Duffy Robbins, Professor of Youth Ministry, Eastern University, St Davids, PA