Review: Foundations for Youth Ministry by Dean Borgman

In the youth ministry world, there are veterans and gurus. Neither of these words accurately describe the impact author, professor, and practitioner, Dean Borgman has had on our world.

Foundations For Ym Knowing this, I was excited to read his book, Foundations for Youth Ministry: Theological Engagement with Teen Life & Culture.

Foundations is divided into four parts. The first asks big questions designed to lay a theology for youth ministry. The second establishes a theology of persons – addressing growth and development, community, family, and sexuality – a task that is necessary because as Borgman says, “Theology begins in relationships – with God and with others.”

The third and fourth sections apply the theology from the first two sections to practical facets of youth ministry, tackling culture, technology, humor, and other issues. Both sections are rooted in the fact that the “incarnate Christ is God revealed in and through culture”.

One of the strengths of this book is that throughout it, Borgman draws heavily upon Scripture, making his theology of youth ministry one truly based upon the God of the Bible. Borgman also integrates the work of other youth ministry practitioners, theologians, and researchers into Foundations.

As a result, Foundations for Youth Ministry is a dense read that will take days, weeks, or even months to properly digest. It is heady, wrestling far more with abstract, theological issues than practical youth ministry ones. For this reason, this is not a book I would recommend for volunteer youth workers, as I suspect few would actually finish it.

It is, however, a book that is well-suited as an academic text, in particular as an introductory text for an undergraduate youth ministry class. No doubt that when used in such a setting, as the basis for vigorous theological discussions, this book will truly help youth workers establish a solid foundation for youth ministry rooted, not in the latest ministry trends or fads, but in Scripture.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Foundations for Youth Ministry from Youth Worker Journal in exchange for an honest review of it. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, 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 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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