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When God Shows Up: A History of Protestant Youth Ministry in America
Baker Academic / 2010 / Paperback
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In a post-everything era, is there any hope that teenagers will encounter the Triune God? If history is any indication, the answer is yes. According to veteran youth educator Mark Senter, for more than two centuries Protestant youth ministries have either strengthened teenagers after a special encounter with God or tried to retain them until such a moment when God shows up. This book, When God Shows Up: A History of Youth ministry in America, examines the fascinating journey of church leaders as they seek to capture the moment in life when young people are most open to peak spiritual experiences. As such, it provides the first substantial history of American Protestant youth ministry.
Senter traces the American Protestant church through three cycles of youth ministry, each beginning with a cultural shift that made obsolete the established methods of passing Christian values from one generation to the next. For each cycle, he evaluates innovations made by pastors and local churches in response to cultural shifts and shows how these innovations in youth ministry have impacted broader church life.
Senter also highlights the evolution of adolescent spirituality in America and describes the major shapers of youth ministry over the last century. As he reveals the dynamics of changing youth ministry trends and eras, Senter uses history as a lens for responding to the future.
The book's unique historical foundation makes it relevant for a broad array of youth ministry courses. In addition, youth workers will value Senter's assessment of what youth ministry has been, what it is now, and where it is going.
About the series: The Youth, Family, and Culture series examines the broad categories involved in studying and caring for the needs of the young and is dedicated to the preparation and vocational strengthening of those who are committed to the spiritual development of adolescents.
For more than two centuries, youth ministries have either strengthened teenagers after a special encounter with God or tried to retain them until such a moment when God shows up. Here veteran youth ministry expert Mark Senter provides the first substantial history of the phenomenon of American Protestant youth ministry. More than a history, this book highlights the evolution of adolescence and adolescent spirituality, outlines three distinct cycles in the history of youth ministry, describes the major shapers of youth ministry over the last century, and helps readers understand trends and changes in youth ministry and their connections to broader church life.
"Mark Senter has done it again! Those of us who have read and used The Coming Revolution in Youth Ministry have waited far too long for this rich addition to the field of youth ministry. When God Shows Up offers a remarkable sweep across the heritage of youth ministry, demonstrating the factors that have shaped us today. Students of youth ministry will benefit from this work for years to come. I urge all those who care about where youth ministry has been and where it is going to read this fine book."
Professor of Student Ministry, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
"When God Shows Up will be a standard text in the field and will help us all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us with a passion to reach and nurture young people."
Executive Administrator, Association of Youth Ministry Educators; Professor, Nyack College
"Every family, every organization, and every movement has a history that informs, explains, and inspires. Mark Senter has done a wonderful job of providing historical context for American Protestant youth ministry, which is a family, an organization, and a movement all in one. A thorough understanding of the contents of this book will help those who care about youth ministry to appreciate its roots and to be awed and inspired by youth ministry leaders from the past."
Professor of Youth Ministries, John Brown University
"Like a wise docent, Senter generously guides us through the archives of the history of youth ministry. Embracing a cyclical description of the evolution of youth ministry in America, Senter insightfully presents a well-researched, creative engagement with youth ministry in the Protestant church. Faithfully reporting the stories of our past, the text concludes with current observations and questions regarding our future direction. Comprehensive, accessible, and vital--a one-of-a-kind book that needs to be savored by every youth ministry professional!"
-Cheryl A. Crawford
Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Azusa Pacific University
"Weaving together stories of youth ministry pioneers and their organizations, Senter provides an intriguing historical perspective on the church's concern for its young people. Drawing on the lessons from history, Senter provides insight into this frustrating area of ministry and the challenges the church must address in order to spiritually engage young people. When God Shows Up is required reading for anyone remotely concerned with the future of the church's ministry to young people."
Associate Professor of Church Education, Calvin Theological Seminary
Editor, The Journal of Youth Ministry
"Youth ministry changes--and must change--in the context of changing cultures. Mark Senter has experienced much of the history of modern youth ministry as a youth pastor himself and as a professor and leading scholar in the field. In When God Shows Up, Senter has produced a book that professors, students, youth leaders, and senior pastors should study. It challenged and expanded my thinking. Senter's latest book is grist for dynamic, ministry-transforming discussion."
Charles E. Culpeper Professor of Youth Ministries, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
"The profession of youth ministry has a debilitating case of amnesia. Senter's book is the antidote. He brings the untold stories of the past to life and draws valuable lessons for today's youth ministers. Every youth minister and youth ministry educator in America should read this book. This book is the most comprehensive history of youth ministry available. Senter approaches youth ministry sympathetically from a strong faith perspective, yet also critically, aware of the importance of learning from the mistakes of the past."
-Thomas E. Bergler
Associate Professor of Ministry and Missions, Huntington University
Senior Associate Editor, The Journal of Youth Ministry
"This is not merely a history book; it is a compelling story of young lives--thousands of lives--transformed by the surprising grace of God. As a keen historian and reflective theologian, Senter provides a fresh perspective on the past that illuminates the future. When God Shows Up encourages those who care about young people to understand their past and challenges them to maintain the historic core conviction of helping young people encounter God."
-Mark W. Cannister
Professor of Christian ministries, Gordon College
"This book establishes Mark Senter as today's foremost youth ministry historian. When God Shows Up is a seminal work providing a historical analysis of Protestant youth ministry in America. Yet Senter goes beyond a historical survey to provide a sociological and theological exegesis of youth ministry from 1824 to 2010. When God Shows Up is a significant contribution to both the field of youth ministry education and modern American church history."
-Fernando Arzola Jr.
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Nyack College
Author: Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry: Theory and Praxis in Urban Context
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