Recent Reads: Unlocking Mission & Eschatology in Youth Ministry by Andrew Root

Unlocking Mission

What the book's about:  Unlocking Mission & Eschatology in Youth Ministry is part of the series, "A theological journey through youth ministry", which tackles pressing theological issues as they relate specifically to youth ministry. This book explores the theology of missions and the coming of God. Using youth mission trips as its framework, it suggests a new way of thinking about missions - not as getting work done - but as helping people taste the kingdom of God, a kingdom that is simultaneously here and yet not yet complete. 

Why I read this book: I'm currently writing my second book, a student devotional about Jesus based on the research published in The Jesus Gap. As part of my writing process, I've been doing some additional reading about Jesus and specifically about the cross and the resurrection. I read Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry as part of that research. 

My favorite quotes from the book:

- "If the beneficiaries of globalization are tourists who can travel as they choose, then the losers of globalization are the ones forced to wander: those who move in the shadows, those whose moving is unwanted, and those who work low-paying jobs in service to tourists (such as janitors at airports or hotel housekeepers.)" 

- "The point of the mission trip is to invite young people to act in ways that witness to the promise of God's action, which will make all things new." 

- "Hope trusts in the promises of God. Hope seeks the action of God that brings forth a new reality. Optimism stands in the current reality, wishing to make the best of each individual experience. But hope stands knee deep in the history of this reality by yearning for the action of God to bring forth a new reality in which everything in this reality is reconciled and redeemed.”

- "Apathy sets in when our passion for the future is miscarried." 

- "Ministry is about joining God where God can be found." 

- “The resurrection is the promise that death will not prevail, that nothingness does not have the last word. God promises to overcome it with life... We can trust that God will overcome death because Jesus is the resurrection, because on the third day Jesus rose again, as the first of many.”

- "A mission trip in youth ministry is not about bringing the resurrection; It is about witnessing to the resurrection." 

- "Youth ministry is not about getting things accomplished - only the act of God can bring about the transformation we seek. Youth ministry is about participating deeply in young people's lives as we await, together in suffering & joy, the coming of God." 

- "Sabbath is a period of 'trying on' God's promised completion, trying on God's future. Sabbath is not rest for a privileged few while all others serve them – that's tourism. Sabbath is the inviting of all creation to be still and imagine the coming of God.”

- "Friendship means we are obligated to one another, but obligated in a way that doesn't destroy our freedom." 

- “Paul connects faith and hope. Rather than saying young people have faith if they believe without doubt, it might be better to say they have faith if, up against doubt, fear, and struggle, they hope."

Who I'd recommend this book for: Any youth pastor seeking to be challenged in their understanding of missions. Despite it's small size, Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry is theologically heavy. For this reason, I'd give it to other youth pastors, but probably not to most volunteer adult leaders. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and the forthcoming A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

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