christian youth work (youthwork) - a guide to reading

Our  brief guide to reading explores the meaning and direction of Christian youth work (youthwork). 

contents: introduction · historical overviews of Christian youth work (youthwork) · Christian formation and teaching · informal Christian education with young people · evangelical youth work · pastoral care and counselling · youth ministry · youth work (youthwork), young people and the church

On this page we have brought together a selection of some of the key books and articles that explore the theory and practice of Christian youth work (youthwork). As this listing demonstrates the state of writing about Christian youth work (youthwork) raises some causes for concern. There are significant gaps in the UK literature, especially around the history of the work; much of the writing goes for exhortation rather than exploration; and there are a rather worrying number of books that operate from a non-dialogical basis. That is to say, their writers are neither generally willing to entertain that their knowledge of Christ and the lessons they draw from Scripture may be flawed or wrong, nor do they countenance disagreement.

We give some guidance to reading around the history of Christian youth work (youthwork) as well as the relationship of youth work (youthwork) and young people to the church. Material has been organized into categories. 

Christian youth work (youthwork) strands

These are based on some significant areas of interest. There is necessarily some overlap in this way of dividing books and materials. Perhaps the most obvious of these is the dividing line between evangelical youth work (youthwork) and youth ministry - understandable given much of the literature's shared roots. However, there are other areas of overlap. For example, when Pete Ward or Kenda Creasy Dean (1998) talk about relational and incarnational youth work (youthwork) and youth ministry, they are covering ground that is familiar to many informal educators and to writers like Green and Christian (1998) in the formation arena.

Historical overviews of Christian youth work (youthwork)

We lack a sustained and comprehensive exploration of the history of Christian youth work (youthwork). For the moment it is necessary to pick and mix (and this leaves us with a rather limited and partial view of the contribution, tensions and trends in the work. 

Cannister, M. W. (2001) 'Youth ministry's historical context: the education and evangelism of young people' in K. C. Dean, C. Clark and D. Rahn (eds.) (2001) Starting Right. Thinking theologically about youth ministry, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing. A helpful charting of developments in youthwork and youth ministry in the USA that brings out some key shifts and movements.

Eagar, W. McG (1953) Making Men. A history of boys clubs and related movements, London: University of London Press. 437 pages. Quite the best historical treatment of UK youth work (youthwork) - but necessarily limited by its focus and time of writing. Eagar begins by discussing the recognition of adolescence; the development of church and philanthropic concern around youth; the emergence of ragged schooling, clubs, settlements and missions and then charts the history of the boys' clubs movement. There is some material on girl's clubs. He is particularly strong on the idea of the club, linkages into schooling and rescue, and how these related to other Victorian institutions and concerns. 

Pahl, J. (2000) Youth Ministry in Modern America. 1930 to the present, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrikson. 248 = xvi pages. Fascinating exploration of developments through four movements (the Lutheran Walther League, the Catholic Young Christian Workers, Youth for Christ and within some African-American congregations. See, also his piece on the history of youth ministry in the encyclopedia of informal education.

Percival, A. C. (1951) Youth Will Be Led. The story of the voluntary youth organizations, London: Collins. 249 pages. Useful overview of the development of voluntary youth work (youthwork). Percival sets out to 'give an idea of how one impulse after another urged men and women to be come workers in the field, answering the need that seemed most pressing their day; to show how the founders of various associations often "builded better than they knew" and to indicate the characteristics, the problems and the philosophy that lie behind the work being done' (p. 12). Chapters on early history; middle class needs (YMCA & YWCA); the Brigades; the village girls' club (GFS); clubs (lay and church); scouts and guides; 'common interest' associations (young farmer's etc.); federation and partnership; state intervention; present trends; characteristics and motives; conclusion.

Springhall, J., Fraser, B. and Hoare, M. (1983) Sure and Stedfast. A history of the Boys Brigade 1883 to 1983, London: Collins. 297 pages. Comprehensive history that is not the usual centenary celebration. Rather it examines the development of 'the world's first successful voluntary uniformed organization'. The writers attempt to correct 'false assumptions' about the Brigade's historical links with militarism and evangelicalism. The Brigade's is set in a broader social and historical context. [Out of print]. See also John Springhall's (1977) Youth, Empire and Society. British youth movements, 1883-1940, Beckenham: Croom Helm. 163 pages. This is a useful exploration of the emergence of uniformed youth organizations.

Ward, P. (1996) Growing Up Evangelical: youthwork and the making of a subculture, London: SPCK. The opening chapter contains a helpful review of developments within evangelical youth work (youthwork) since the second world war. For a fuller review of the book see below.

There are a number of resources concerning the development of Christian youth work (youthwork). See the introductory guide to Christian youth work (youthwork).

Christian formation and teaching

Given the long history of church schooling, Sunday schooling and the like – it should not surprise that we are well served by explorations of the process and nature of Christian formation and teaching. Here we have chosen a selection of more recent texts that help us to get a fix on Christian formation, and upon the qualities of character and environment that are necessary to a Christian education. While the focus here is largely upon formal situations like schools, there is much that should be of interest to youth workers (youthworkers) – particularly for the moments and times when they are teachers.

Astley, J., Francis, L. J. and Crowder, C. (eds.) (1996) Theological Perspectives on Christian Formation. A reader on theology and Christian education, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 464 + xix pages. A major collection of pieces from a range of theologians and educators. There are sections on theology and Christian education theory; the bible; the church; different theological approaches (postliberal, liberation and feminist); spiritual formation and the worshipping community; spiritual formation ministerial education; the theological education debate; and theology, education and the university. There are a number of chapters that are of particular interest to Christian youth workers (youthworkers) and informal educators – especially those in the sections on Christian education theory and formation and the worshipping community – but there is plenty of interest in the other sections too.

Everist, N. C. (2002The Church as a Learning Community. A comprehensive guide to Christian education, Abingdon Press. 384 pages. This is a major introduction to the tasks and practices of Christian education. Norma Cook Everist argues that it is meaningful to say that in ministries of administration, outreach, and pastoral care, the church is functioning as a learning community. 'Whenever and wherever Christians are being formed into the image of Jesus Christ through ministry, there Christian education is taking place. Christian education is the name we give to that process of formation'. Part 1 of the book focuses broadly on what it means to be the church in the world. Part 2 shows how being a learning community requires ongoing growth in faith throughout the span of life. Part 3 shifts focus to the church as it moves into the community and world.

Green, M. and Christian, C. (1998) Accompanying Young People on their Spiritual Quest, London: Church House Publications. 64 + viii pages. This small book, which has proved to be very popular, catches the current interest in mentoring and connects it with a significant tradition in Christian formation. Accompanying is seen as 

... essentially an attitude and a skill which is rooted in the humanity of the accompanist, where the chief quality is the ability to be alongside the accompanied... For the Christian, accompanying can be seen as a reflection of God's nature, and is compassionate, loving and grounded in the concept of free will. (Green and Christian 1998: 27)

The focus on conversation and being with is close to the concerns of many of those writing about informal education, and similarly the interest in Christian formation and relationship touches on many of the themes developed by Kenda Creasy Dean and Pete Ward around incarnational work. Chapters deal with spirit in young people, the art of accompanying, examples of accompanying and developing accompanying.

Krau, C. F. (1999) Keeping in Touch. Christian formation and teaching, Nashville, Tennessee: Discipleship Resources. 112 pages. A most helpful exploration of the role that teaching plays in forming Christian disciples. Carol F. Krau explores five key processes that are important to teachers and small group leaders: keeping in touch with God; keeping in touch with God’s people; keeping in touch with your experience; keeping in touch with the world; and keeping in touch with teaching. 

Lambert, I. and Mitchell, S. (eds.) (1997) The Crumbling Walls of Certainty. Towards a Christian critique of postmodernity and education, Sydney: Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity/Greenwing. 196 pages. Series of useful reflections and explorations on the state of Christian schooling. 

Christian youth work (youthwork) - Palmer, The courage to teachPalmer, P. J. (1998) The Courage to Teach. Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Based on the premise that good teaching cannot be reduced to technique, but comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher, this book explores a number of themes central to informal education and to Christian teaching. See, also, Parker J. Palmer’s (1993) To Know as We are Known. Education as a spiritual journey, San Francisco: HarperSan Francisco. 130 + xix pages. A fascinating exploration of education as spiritual formation. ‘To teach’, he argues, ‘is to create a space in which obedience to truth is practiced’. 

Informal Christian education with young people

Here we have selected pieces of writing that have the classic informal education emphases on conversation, learning and association and that look to Christian purposes in work with young people. It is an oft overlooked fact that the development of thinking about the notion of informal education has derived in significant part from work in the YMCA - especially around work with adults - and in church-based youth work.  

Barnett, L. P. (1951) The Church Youth Club, London: The Methodist Education Department. 190 pages. One of the great pieces of writing about Christian youth work (youthwork) – in significant part because Leonard Barnett is able to write accessibly but with great sophistication about the function of the church youth club, the processes involved and the requirements of leadership. He provides a helpful account of the development of youth work (youthwork) within Methodism and the explosion of provision during and after the Second World War. His approach draws upon the work of Josephine Macalister Brew on informal education and youth work (indeed she wrote the foreword) and also connects with a good theological understanding and research into the nature of church youth groups.

Brierley, D. (1998) Young People and Small Groups, London: Scripture Union. 159 pages. One of the few recent Christian youth work books that takes groupwork seriously. This book has the double virtue of an educative rather than proseletyzing orientation; and of avoiding an over-focus on the nature of youth and ‘youth culture’. Instead Danny Brierley looks at the process of engaging people in association. His focus on growing community (and hence love of neighbour) among young people cuts to the heart of youth work and informal education.  Section one explores the process of developing small groups, part two leading small groups, and part three resourcing small groups.


Jesus as an informal educator

In a busy world it can be tempting for youth workers to timetable everything. But Jesus’ small group had a life beyond the formal sessions. They spent considerable time together discussing, arguing, travelling, worshipping, eating and living. The disciples learnt about prayer through Jesus’ example; they learnt about justice by watching him give dignity and value to the oppressed. These times together were not supplementary to the process, they were the process. Jesus, as the small-group leader, did not deliver a programme or control an agenda. Rather he used the disciples’ questions and everyday situations – a walk through a field, a sailing trip or a visit to the temple – as vehicles for drawing out his learning points. This was informal education par excellence.

Danny Brierley (1998) Young People and Small Groups, page 24.

Brierley, D. (2003) Joined Up. An introduction to youthwork and ministry, London: Pasternoster Publishing. 201 + xiii pages. Part one of the book looks to the foundations of youth work and youth ministry (and includes two chapters surveying the development of the work); part two turns to what Danny Brierley argues are the values of youth work and ministry ( voluntary participation, informal education, empowerment, equality of opportunity and incarnation); and lastly part three looks to practice. This section has chapters on fellowship, worship and mission. The book provides a good starting point for the exploration of current work in the UK.

Doyle, M. E. and Smith, M. K. (1999) Born and Bred? Leadership, heart and informal education, London: YMCA George Williams College/Rank Foundation. Not written specifically for or about Christian youth work, this small book touches some significant areas of interest for the Christian youth worker. For these authors leadership is a shared process that all people can be involved in - not just the province of youth workers or charismatic characters within groups. The authors call for 'leadership with heart' (leadership with a passion for service, association and flourishing). They say this kind of leadership asks us to 'respond with our spirit, conscience and the core of our being'. Also of interest are the processes of animation (to breath life into), formation (to mould or make) and education (to draw out) examined in Chapter 5.

Ellis, J. (1990) 'Informal education - a Christian perspective' in T. Jeffs and M. Smith (eds.) Using Informal Education. An alternative to casework, teaching and control?, Buckingham: Open University Press. (Full text available in the archives). In this seminal piece, John W. Ellis explores the practice of Christian informal education, and contrasts it with formal approaches. He brings places the two in a continuum and how they are blended by Christian educators..

Milson, F. W. (1963) Social Group Method and Christian Education, London: Chester House Publications. 166 pages. Part one deals with the basic assumptions of social group work method; part two principles in practice; and part three Christian leadership

Pastoral care and counselling

There is a distinct lack of material that focuses on the pastoral care of young people - and those books currently in print tend to focus on the issues that young people supposedly face (or present in pastoral encounters). For more exploration of the pastoral care process it is necessary to turn to more general texts (and we have included some here). 

Campbell, A. V. (1985) Rediscovering Pastoral Care 2e, London: Darton, Longman and Todd. 144 pages. Popular exploration of the state and nature of pastoral care 

Fowler, J. W. (1987) Faith Development and Pastoral Care, Augsburg Fortress Press. 132 pages. Classic statement of Fowler's faith development stages model that draws on the theories of Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson with a discussion of the implications for pastoral care. 

Lyall, D. (2001) The Integrity of Pastoral Care, London: SPCK. 208 pages. Examines pastoral care as the central pastoral ministry of the church and relates it to other functions of Christian ministry. Lyall examines the theological importance of pastoral care and other pastoral activities, and revisits them in the light of parallels in secular therapies.

Vernon, M. (ed.) (1997) Pastoral Care for Young People, London: MarshallPickering. 172 + xii pages. Opening chapters examine the biblical basis of pastoral care and the nature of pastoral care. The rest of the book is devoted a series of chapters dealing with adolescents and... (family problems, sexuality and so on).  

Willows, D., Swinton, J. and Browning, D. (eds.) (2000) Spiritual Dimensions of Pastoral Care, London: Jessica Kingsley. 224 pages. This collection looks to practical theology. Chapters explore the way in which the spiritual dimension of pastoral care has entered into constructive dialogue with other disciplines and ways of thinking, including psychiatry, psychology,and  counselling. Contributors cover a wide range of practical and theological issues with an eye to the spiritual dimension of pastoral care, e.g. bereavement, sexuality, ethics, learning disabilities, infertility, the meaning of pain, and sickness and suffering.

Evangelical youth work

Salmon Youth CentreAs might be expected there was a very significant expansion and deepening of the literature in this area with the growth of evangelicalism within UK churches. However, in recent years the framework for discussion has increasingly been youth ministry (see below). Here we focus on three of the more influential texts. 

Ashton, M. (1986) Christian Youth Work, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications. 256 pages. When first published, this book was welcomed as providing a clear and grounded account of youth work that presents young people ‘with the claims of Jesus Christ’ (page 68). ‘Youth work is not Christian’, Ashton claims, ‘if it is not true to Jesus Christ in facing young people with [the] gospel and warning them of the consequences of not accepting it’ (page 69). Chapters deal with adolescence in late twentieth century Western society; the biblical basis for youth work; adolescent conversion; evangelizing and disciplining young people; young people and the church; young people in the family and school; strategies for church leadership; and the role of youth leaders. Throughout Ashton adopts a clear position, and explores the theoretical basis of the work. There is a welcome absence of homilies, simple solutions and uplifting stories (which can be the standard fare in this area). It was at publication one of the most coherent expositions of an evangelical perspective on youth work. There is a second edition published in 1995 written with Phil Moon, published by Monarch.

Brierley, D. (2003) Joined Up. An introduction to youthwork and ministry, London: Pasternoster Publishing. 201 + xiii pages. Part one of the book looks to the foundations of youth work and youth ministry (and includes two chapters surveying the development of the work); part two turns to what Danny Brierley argues are the values of youth work and ministry ( voluntary participation, informal education, empowerment, equality of opportunity and incarnation); and lastly part three looks to practice. This section has chapters on fellowship, worship and mission. The book provides a good starting point for the exploration of current work in the UK.

Ward, P. (1996) Growing Up Evangelical: youthwork and the making of a subculture, London: SPCK. 242 + x pages. Part one provides a partial history of youth work within the Christian church in Britain - with a special emphasis on the impact of evangelism upon the development of practice. Part two explores youth work and worship. Part three, 'safety and subculture' examines a 'subcultural approach to youthwork' and brings out some of the tensions within evangelical youthwork. Pete Ward bravely examines the tendency for evangelical youthwork to build an alternative subculture - and the possibility of fostering closed rather than open perspectives. He asks 'is evangelism essentially adolescent?' This book is important because of the way in which historical material is drawn together, and because of the questions raised for evangelical youthwork.

Ward, P. (1997)Youthwork and the Mission of God, London: SPCK. 160 pages. This was a very significant book in that it discussed different disciplines of youth ministry and explored an incarnational approach to youthwork. Ward discusses the theology of youth ministry, popular culture, and the nature of youth church.

Youth ministry

There has been an extra-ordinary explosion in publishing in this area. Some of the literature is pretty dire, and sometimes deeply suspect. A good deal of it takes the form of 'how to do it' guides and checklists. Here we have focused on some of the more substantial explorations and have tried to highlight some important threads.  

Black, W. (1991) An Introduction to Youth Ministry, Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman. 242 pages. Black looks to ‘inclusive youth ministry’ – involving adults, young people and church members. His vision of youth ministry is taken from Bob Taylor, 'enabling and mobilizing the gifts of many persons to touch, with the truths of the gospel, the lives of youth in every realm of their being' (page 29). Part one examines the foundations of youth ministry; part two, youth ministry with adult learners; part three, youth ministry with youth; part four, ministry with parents of youth; part five the church staff youth minister; and part six, programming for youth ministry. 

Dean, K. C., Clark, C. and Rahn, D. (eds.) (2001) Starting Right. Thinking theologically about youth ministry, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing. 398 pages. This well designed student text is accessible, entertaining and informative. A must-read for anyone training for youth ministry this book has to be the starting point for any serious exploration of the phenomena. The basic premise behind Starting Right is that:

Practical theological reflection - reflection that connects what we believe about God with how we live as disciples of Jesus Christ - is the first  task of ministry with young people. (page 17)

It is carefully organized around four foci: understanding the concrete situation; reflecting on present practice (focusing youth ministry through evangelism, the family, community etc.); detecting our convictions and evaluating our practices (exploring the theological framework for youth ministry - repentance, grace, redemption, hope); projecting a more faithful ministry. The quality of the chapters vary - but rarely fail to interest. The most comprehensive treatment of youth ministry we have come across.

Dean, K. C. and Foster, R. (1998) The Godbearing Life. The art of soul tending for youth ministry, Nashville, Tennessee: Upper Room Books. 221 pages. An influential exploration of youth ministry that argues against ministry as something we 'do' to someone else. Instead, it is approached as 'a holy way of living toward God and toward one another' (1998: 9). The writers argue for a shift from a focus on program to relational ministry: 'contact ministry, showing up, hanging out, earning the right to be heard' (ibid.: 26) and then on to incarnational ministry.


[U]sing relationships for the sake of meeting developmental needs represents a misguided concept of church. Youth ministry focuses on relationships, not only because of who teenagers are but because of who God is. God is a relationship - Christian tradition uses the relational language of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to describe the persons of the Trinity - and this God's love is so generous that the Godhead alone cannot contain it. Significant relationships with other Christians matter because they teach us something about what God is like - the One who can love us in spite of ourselves and who loves us passionately enough to suffer willingly on our behalf.

For this reason, we prefer the term incarnational to relational when we speak of ministry. Anybody can have a relationship but only God takes on flesh in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster (1998) The Godbearing Life
page 27.


Dunn, R. R. and Senter, M. (eds.) (1997) Reaching a Generation for Christ: A comprehensive guide to youth ministry, Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press. 700 pages. Mamoth text with over fifty authors. It has sections on: the framework for youth ministry; structures for youth ministry; context for youth ministry; skills for youth ministry; challenges in youth ministry; resources for youth ministry; and the future in youth ministry.

McDaniel, K. (1999) Youth Ministry. Exploring the needs of your church, London: National Society/Church House Publishing. 103 pages. One of the few English language treatments of youth ministry from this side of the Atlantic (and included here for that reason), this is, essentially, an aid to discussion in churches. 

McDowell, S. and Willey, R. (eds.) Josh McDowell's Youth Ministry Handbook. Making the connection, Nashville, Tennesee: Word Publishing. 262 pages. Collection of fifty short pieces that while taking on some of the language of relational ministry is shot through by a model of young people as being in deficit. Interesting as an insight into a fairly aggressive evangelical approach to ministry. 

Robbins, D. (1990) The Ministry of Nurture. A youth workers guide to discipling teenagers, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing. 237 pages. Duffy Robbins' influence on the field of youth ministry has been very significant. In this popular guide looks at adolescent spirituality, 'real-life student discipleship' and the process of nurture. He views the goal of youth ministry as helping teenagers to grow spiritually. See also his (1991) Youth Ministry that Works, Wheaton, Illinois: Victor. This is a book about 'foundational' youth ministry that looks to programs. 

Ward, P. (1999) God at the Mall. Youth ministry that meets kids where they're at, Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson. 170 pages. In this accessible book, Pete Ward revisits his earlier criticism of fellowship-based work and brings it more into balance with his interest in relational work. He also looks to youth culture and a contextualized theology of young people.  

Youth work (youthwork), young people and the church

This section is a selection of some more recent books and pieces that focus on the relationship of young people to the church - and the role of youth work (youthwork) and youth ministry. One of the striking features of the literature  is the extent to which it proceeds from a number of problematic assumptions around:

developmental stages.  A number of models (like Fowler's notion of faith stages) use the idea that people pass through certain developmental stages - an idea which is open to considerable critique (see lifespan development and lifelong learning).

youth and culture. There are issues around the notion of 'youth' and the extent to which it is a useful term in the current circumstances. In a similar vein the use of the notion of culture and the extent to which young people inhabit distinctive youth cultures is also open to considerable debate.  (see The problem of 'youth' for youth work).

post-modernity. A large number of writers proceed from the assumption that we are living in a post-modern age, and that this then poses significant questions around the nature of truth and of the societies we make. Just how helpful the notion of postmodernity is is open to considerable debate (see post-modernity and post-modernism).

Here we have picked some of the more significant contributions to debates.

Breen, M. (1993) Outside In. Reaching un-churched young people today, London: Scripture Union. 159 pages. An influential workbook that advocates understanding young people through observation, reflection and discussion; and developing strategies for evangelism that meet people ‘where they are’ through ‘detached and unstructured/informal work'. Breen, like many  writers on Christian youth work in the 1990s uses a rather problematic notion of youth culture. His approach looks to a three dimensional lifestyle (revelation, response and relationship), fostering change, building appropriate teams and ‘growing as a church when young people do come to Jesus’.

Church of England General Synod (1996) Youth A Part. Young people and the Church, London: Church House Publishing. 196 + xii pages. Important working party report that seeks to respond to the declining involvement of young people in the Church of England. The writers explore the nature of youth culture, youth spirituality and worship, building relationships, the support and recruitment of youth workers, and the good practice. There is also a much-needed chapter on the theology of youth work. See, also, D. Green and M. Green (2000) follow up: Taking A Part. Young people’s participation in the Church, London: Church House Publications. 80 pages.

Cray, G. (1998)  Postmodern Culture and Youth Discipleship. Commitment or looking cool, Cambridge: Grove Books. 24 pages. This pamphlet seeks to examine ‘the uncertainties of postmodernity and the rise of consumer culture’ and ‘the shape of young people’s world today’. There is some discussion of ‘what it means to bring the challenge of the cross to this world and exercise pastoral ministry among postmodern young people’. For those of us who doubt the usefulness of post-modernism as an analytical tool, and the focus on youth culture, there is much to annoy here – but it is worth persevering as Cray has some interesting things to say about ‘the renewal of imagination concerning pastoral responses'.

Hickford, A. (1998) Essential Youth, Eastbourne: Kingsway Publications. 223 pages. The first part of this book examines culture and the role it plays in understanding the Christian message and living out the Christian faith. Hickford argues that the church has big problems with culture. Part two askes the question 'can young people said to be people of a different culture?' He argues that:

It is legitimate to say that young people today can be a different cultural group. That means the church of Jesus Christ has things to challenge in youth culture if it is to be faithful to the gospel. Critically, though, it has things to learn from young people. At the moment this rarely, if ever, happens, and both the church and young people are more impoverished as a result. (page 87)

Part three examines the lessons to be learnt from this analysis with regard to evangelism, discipleship, education, mission and leadership. 

Long, J. (1999)  Generating Hope. Reaching the postmodern generation, London: Marshall Pickering. 264 + xv pages. This book asks the question 'why is evangelism less effective today' - and argues that the church is not making the right points of contact with 'today's postmodern world'. Part one of the book provides a sociological analysis, part two a theological foundation, and part three a framework for ministry.

Senter, M. (ed.) with Black, W., Clark, C. and Nel, M. (2001) Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church, Youth Specialities. 192 pages. Very helpful exchange between four key figures in youth ministry concerning the different distinct philosophical/ecclesiological views of how youth ministry relates to the church.

Tomlinson, D. (1995) The Post Evangelical, London: Triangle. 151 pages. Important book that touched (and continues to touch) a nerve. Tomlinson describes a phenomenon that many experience. To be post-evangelical, he argues, 'is to take as given many of the assumptions of evangelical faith, while at the same time moving beyond its perceived limitations' (page 7). See, also, the follow-up volume by Cray, G. et. al. (1997) The Post Evangelical Debate, London: Triangle. 117 pages. The writers challenge and explore different aspects of Tomlinson's argument. 

Ward, P. (1992) Youth Culture and the Gospel, Basingstoke, Marshall Pickering. 160 pages. Argues that there is a significant gap between the culture of young people and the culture of the Church. Pete Ward looks to encourage friendship with, and understanding of, young people and to identify their interests. 

Wookey, S. (1996) When a Church Becomes a Cult, London: Hodder and Stoughton. 168 pages. Important and highly readable examination of ‘new religious movements’ that provides readers with practical tools to analyse groups or churches. He examines the misuse of power, the scale of manipulation and the exploitation of people. He provides various examples of abuse and shows how mainstream churches can have cult-like tendencies (test your own religious community!).  For the Christian youth worker, it provides a clear account of what makes for un-Christian practice within churches and teaches about pitfalls in practice that must be avoided.

© Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K. Smith 2002
Last update: July 08, 2014