Podcast: Integrating theological perspectives on youth

19 February 2022

What theological perspectives on youth and adolescence have shaped Christian ministry among young people? What perspective (or combination of perspectives) should shape Christian ministry among young people?

Podcast: Theological perspectives on youth in youth ministry practices

Youth ministry veteran Graham Stanton asked himself these questions and published an article about it in the Journal of Youth and Theology’Towards an Integrated Theology of Youth’. In this article, he describes eight theological perspectives on youth and young people that you can find as foundational for approaches and strategies in youth ministry practices. He also proposes a theological framework that integrates contrasting perspectives on young people in a meaningful whole, by asking the right questions.

There are not many current overviews of theological perspectives on youth, let alone viable ways to fruitfully integrate them, so reason enough for us to have a conversation with Graham Stanton. You will hear about his journey into youth ministry practices, training and education, and academic research as the background and embedding for this research. It is also a journey of a theologically trained practitioner into practical theology.

Focus thinking about young people

In this conversation, you will hear how the dynamic relation between distinct theological perspectives works, for instance in the created reality of adolescence, the full capability of young people as bearers of the Divine Image, and the emerging capability as social agents. 

Also, you will hear why it is necessary to have a better insight into theological perspectives on youth and young people and how it helps to focus our thinking about young people.

Mentioned literature

- Bunge, Marcia, ‘The Child, Religion, and the Academy: Developing Robust Theological and Religious Understanding of Children and Childhood.’ In: Journal of Religion 86, no. 4 (2006): pp. 549–579;
- Bunge, Marcia, ‘The Dignity and Complexity of Children: Constructing Christian Theologies of Childhood.’  In: K. M. Yust, A. N. Johnson, S. E. Sasso and E. C. Roehlkepartain (eds.), Nurturing Child and Adolescent Spirituality, pp. 53–68 (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006);
- Dean, Kenda Creasy, Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004);
- Dean, Kenda Creasy, Wesley W. Ellis, Justin Forbes, and Abigail Visco Rusert, Delighted: What Teenagers Are Teaching the Church About Joy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2020);
- Ellis, Wesley W. ‘Human Beings and Human Becomings: Departing from the Developmental Model of Youth Ministry.’ In: Journal of Youth and Theology 14, no. 2 (2015): 119–37;
- Hall, G. Stanley. Adolescence; Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education (New York, NY: Appleton, 1904);
- Stanton, Graham, Towards an Integrated Theology of Youth (2021). In: Journal of Youth and Theology 20 (2), pp.1-21;
- White, David F., and Sarah F. Farmer, (eds.),  Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry (Nashville, TN: General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, 2020).


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