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Book Review: Postmodern Youth Ministry by Tony Jones | REyouthpastor.com | Home youth ministry, youth pastor
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Jones, Tony. Postmodern Youth Ministry.

Book Review: Postmodern Youth Ministry by Tony Jones

pmymJones, TonyPostmodern Youth Ministry.

Ch1:  Postmodernism

Postmodernism is not the evil that some Christian thinkers make it out to be.  Rather there is new room in our faith for experience, mysticism, and for mystery.

Youth workers should be looking forward and engaging the emerging culture.


Of or relating to art, architecture, or literature that reacts against earlier modernist principles, as by reintroducing traditional or classical elements of style or be carrying modernist styles or practices to extremes.

Postmodern Value:














A philosophical movement and theory of literary criticism that questions traditional assumptions about certainty, identity, and truth, asserts that words can only refer to other words, and attempts to demonstrate how statement about any text subvert their own meanings.

Incomplete list of postmodernism’ credos:

  1. Objectivity is out, subjectivity is in
  2. Question everything
  3. There is no Truth with a capital “T”
  4. Tell stories
  5. Never make lists

“Jesus and His words invade our real world with a reality even more real than it is.”  -Dallas Willard

Ch2:  A Missional Agenda

Many times youth pastors see ourselves as missionaries while our congregations see us as program directors par excellence.  Then our task becomes helping the congregation reconcieve youth ministry as mission.  – Kenda Dean and Ron Foster

As we youth workers begin to see ourselves as missionaries, we can reconfigure our job descriptions so they look more like mission pastors and less like program directors.

“A revolution is for me a special sort of reconstruction of group commitments.  But it need not be a large change, nor need it seem revolutionary to those outside a single community, consisting perhaps of few than 25 people.  –Thomas Kuhn

Students are the missionaries.  They’re on track with emerging trends.  They have their tribes and subcultures decoded.  They’re the ones learning to translate culture.  In this pluralistic world, it’s too much work for the youth workers to do all the work of evangelism – they must teach students to be missionaries, too.  – Mark Driscoll

People want to talk about God, they want to hear about God, and they want to learn of new ways to get to God.  This is a dramatically new environment for youth ministry.

It is imperative youth pastors see themselves as full blown missionaries who are living in a foreign country.  Youth pastors must dream missionary dreams and pray missionary prayers.  – Dan Kimball

The Entertainment Model

3 fast songs


3 medium speed songs


3 slow songs


Breakout groups



CH4:  Evangelism

Youth pastors have outsourced evangelism.  They have divorced evangelism from the church and given it away to parachurch organizations and stand-alone evangelists.  It wasn’t meant to be this way!

Salvation is a complex process that involves the individual and the community and results in a disciple who bears fruit.  If we oversimplify that process, assuming that’s the only way that students will understand it, we’re selling them short!

Relationships with others serve as a precursor to a relationship with God.

Youth pastors must be about building a community of disciples rather than running huge programs with tons of kids.

No youth ministry event can make dead people rising and blind people seeing.  That’s a work of God.  These days the most offensive thing to me regarding the issue of witnessing and salvation is this idea that anyone can come to faith n Christ if you share the gospel with them in the right way.  Essentially that implies that if you don’t close the deal, it’s your fault.  That’s not the gospel.  Our witnessing should spring forth from an overspill of joy and happiness and fellowship rather than pelagian, guilt ridden duty.  We proclaim good news  — we don’t close deals.  Mark Driscoll

Evangelism and apologetics must always be done in culturally appropriate ways.

CH5:  The Missing Piece

As youth workers we might think Not only is justification difficult for me to understand, it may be beyond some high school students’ intellectual capabilities.

We do our students a disservice if we lead them to believe that Christianity and its essential doctrines are simple and easy to comprehend.

Youth ministry has always been wedded to some kind of popularized-relevant-entertaining method of sharing faith.  – Pete Ward

It is crucial that we continue to produce theologians, in fact, post modern theologians.  –Doug Pagitt

CH6:  The How of Discipleship

Catechism:  A book giving a brief summary of the basic principles of Christianity in question-and-answer form.

A recovery of the true catechetical purpose of confirmation is one way to respond to postmodern necessity that our youths learn the language of Christianity.

Every church has to find a regular method to disciple its students appropriate to its local culture, its denominational heritage, and the congregation.

5 significant youth ministry events:

  1. Fall Retreat
  2. 30-Hour Famine
  3. Families Moving Forward
  4. Summer Mission Trip
  5. Confirmation Weekend

So it will be up to us (the youth pastor) to find the ancient source material, adapt it to postmodern times and our own students, and to apply it in our ministries.

Ch 7:  The Bible

Being honest about the subjective and persuasive aspects of the Bible with our students—especially our non-Christian students – will greatly benefit our youth ministries.

The Bible is the nonfiction storybook of God’s interaction with his people.  It’s the lens through which we look at the world – not simply the object we study. –Doug Pagitt

Jesus and the disciples were killed for telling the truth – and telling the truth is a declaration of war on other kingdoms.  –Mark Driscoll

As youth workers/ youth pastors let’s embrace that truth as each student comes to it, without imposing our own slanted view of Biblical truth on them.

If it is the youth pastor’s job to “bring the Bible to life,” that implies the Bible is somehow already dead.  That’s poor theology, if not heresy!  The Bible is alive; we don’t’ have to make it so.  Our job as the youth pastor is to present its historical and cultural contexts so that its inherent life shines forth to our students.  – Kara Powell

Ch8:  Toward A Holistic Practice of Youth Ministry

Youth ministries need to seek after virtue!!

What if everything we did as youth workers was focused on the goal (telos) that we might be conformed to Christ’s image!

The virtues required for youth ministry: maturity, political savvy, ability to communicate (oral and written), people of prayer, and leadership.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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