Did You You Know that Dietrich Bonhoeffer Was a Youth Pastor? [Book Week]

bonhoeffer

Last Friday I was wandering through my old stomping grounds, the National Youth Workers Convention, in Sacramento. Beside me was Andrew Root, a friend since we were both Ph.D. students at Princeton Theological Seminary. Later that day we would sit together on a theological panel considering the state of the science-and-religion dialogue, but at that moment we were wandering through the conference book store.

Andrew Root

Andrew Root

Root is among the top rank of theologians working in youth ministry today, and he is undisputedly the most prolific author in the field, often publishing two books per year. Virtually an entire table was committed to his books, but one book was no where to be found. Root’s latest book, Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together was sold out, and the conference wasn’t even 24 hours old.

The popularity of Root’s new book is testament to a couple things, not least of which is the ongoing interest in Bonhoeffer, a 20th century theologian, activist, and martyr. Root has long studied Bonhoeffer, and he’s used the content of Bonhoeffer’s unfinished masterpiece, Ethics, to argue that relationship is not a means to an end in Christian ministry — relationship is the telos of ministry, since that’s where Christ enters the human situation.

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Remember Phil Chalmers?

Public Speaker Phil Chalmers talks to Bowie Junior High seventh-graders about the consequences of bullying, Feb. 2, 2012, at the school in Odessa, Texas. Heather Leiphart/Odessa American/AP

I used to debate Big Phil at the National Youth Workers Convention, at least until the year that a member of his posse started shouting at me and grabbed a chair like he was going to throw it. I don’t think Phil got asked back after that.

Well, now Phil is the self-purported “leading expert on school shootings,” although he lacks any formal training…in anything. Self-promotion, however, is still in his wheelhouse, as Newsweek reports,

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Youth Workers Are Still My People

Above you can watch Jeff Chu deliver one of the two talks at last week’s Progressive Youth Ministry conference to receive a standing ovation. The other was given the next morning by H. Adam Ackley, a transgender theology professor who was dismissed from Azusa Pacific University last year. Each of them spoke out of their own experience of being queer in their youth, and each of them explained how they could have been better ministered to by their churches.

And we listened.

Other speakers addressed how women are portrayed in rap and hiphop music, what “death of god” theology could mean in a confirmation class, what kind of youth pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was, and why process theology doesn’t suck. Otis Moss III preached us in, and Laura Truax preached us out. In other words, the content was amazing.

But something even more important happened last week at Fourth Presbyterian Church in downtown Chicago.

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Some Big News…

Thanks for your patience with my sporadic blogging as I write my book. But I did want you to know about a couple opportunities coming up…

Boundary Waters Theological Canoe Adventure

Join me for five days in the amazing Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota. We will canoe through some of the most beautiful, pristine wilderness in North America by day, and in the evenings we’ll discuss the doctrine of creation based on our readings and experience. The cost is $750 and includes all camping and canoeing gear and food.

The dates are May 29 – June 3 (you could fly into MSP on the morning of 5/29 and out on the evening of 6/3). The deadline to register is this Friday, and only 5 spots remain. REGISTER HERE. If you have any questions, please email me.

Christianity21 Phoenix: Rising from the Ashes

Following on the amazing success of Christianity21 Denver, we’re thrilled to announce the return of C21 — this time in the even warmer climes of Phoenix! The theme this time is “What needs to rise from the ashes of the church?” and we’ve already revealed some of the awesome speakers. See who they are and register here.

Dates: January 22-24, 2015. Cost $179 (Super Early Bird).

Progressive Youth Ministry

Last week was breathtaking — more on that tomorrow — so much so that we’re announcing the second annual Progressive Youth Ministry conference, taking place again in partnership with Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. Register early, cuz it’s sure to sell out.

Dates: March 18-20, 2015. Cost: $179 (Super Early Bird).


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