Recent Reads: The Godbearing Life by Kenda Creasy Dean & Ron Foster

Jen Bradbury
May 02 · 5 min read

Godbearing Life

What the book's about: Godbearing Life is a classic book in youth ministry. In it, Kenda Creasy Dean & Ron Foster discuss, as it's subtitle suggests, "the art of soul tending for youth ministry." Published in 1998, it's withstood the test of time, I think, in part, because of it's skillful blend of theology, storytelling, and practical applications. 

Why I read this book: I first read this book several years ago when someone told me, "You can't be in youth ministry without having read Godbearing Life." I chose to reread it this year, this time with my team of adult leaders. It served as the basis for many fruitful discussions together. 

My favorite quotes from the book:

- "Of particular importance to adolescents is friendship with an adult who sees in them potential they do not necessarily see in themselves." 

- "Significant relationships with other Christians matter because they teach us something about what God is like." 

- "I am only human, but I may be the most convincing witness to Jesus Christ many of these young people have ever had." 

- "Youth ministry is less about counting converts than about creating missionaries capable of teaching the believers with their lives because others have taught them with their lives first." 

- "Of all the mirrors that help us establish identity, only the church allows us to see ourselves as God sees us: favored, beloved, and blessed." 

- "Developmentally, youth are capable of extraordinary commitments to someone who believes in them, of ridiculous fidelity to a cause worthy of their total commitment." 

- "Youth ministry is a womb, an incubation ward for potential Godbearers as they ponder & struggle with the news that God is crazy in love with them, would die for them, and, in fact, has. What youth need more than gung-ho adults are Godbearing adults, people whose own yes to God has transformed them into messengers of the gospel." 

- "Affirmation without invitation or expectation subtly tells teenagers, "We don't really expect much of you or ourselves because God loves us no matter what." 

- "The practices of faith comprise my ministry with young people, and my primary responsibility with teenagers rests in inviting them into the practices of faith with me." 

- "God asks us to cultivate potential for leadership - not because it will help us out but because this cultivation is part of the divine plan to gather the people for God." 

Thumbs up or thumbs down? Two thumbs up!

Who I'd recommend this book for: Anyone in youth ministry, whether paid or volunteer. As my friend told me years ago, "You can't be in youth ministry without having read Godbearing Life." Despite being more than 15 years old, this book will challenge you, encourage you, and in general, make you a better youth worker.