Faith Formation in a Secular Age

Faith Formation in a Secular Age : Responding to the Church's Obsession with Youthfulness

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The loss or disaffiliation of young adults is a much-discussed topic in churches today. Many faith-formation programs focus on keeping the young, believing the youthful spirit will save the church. But do these programs have more to do with an obsession with youthfulness than with helping young people encounter the living God?

Questioning the search for new or improved faith-formation programs, leading practical theologian Andrew Root offers an alternative take on the issue of youth drifting away from the church and articulates how faith can be formed in our secular age. He offers a theology of faith constructed from a rich cultural conversation, providing a deeper understanding of the phenomena of the "nones" and "moralistic therapeutic deism." Root helps readers understand why forming faith is so hard in our context and shows that what we have lost is not the ability to keep people connected to our churches but an imagination for how and where God could be present in their lives. He considers what faith is and what steps we can take to move into it, exploring a Pauline concept of faith as encounter with divine action.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 17.78mm | 342g
  • Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group
  • Ada, MI, United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0801098467
  • 9780801098468
  • 55,101

Back cover copy

How Faith Can Be Formed in Our Secular Age

"This is not a 'youth ministry' book. This is a book that holds up a mirror to the contemporary church to help us see how we've come to reflect the culture around us and how that has changed our approach to faith formation. While this shift has had significant impact on youth, none of us are immune. With his typical combination of careful scholarship, pastoral wisdom, and lively prose, Root not only diagnoses the problem but also constructively charts a way forward. If we care about the future of faith formation, every seminarian should be reading this book."
--James K. A. Smith, Calvin University; author of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit

"With a little help from Charles Taylor's notion of transcendence, Root offers a corrective to mere 'authenticity' in a kenotic theology that views Christian formation not as affiliation but as union 'in Christ' in ministry. More than any living writer, Root has sparked the theological imagination of a generation of youth ministers. In a field of practice notorious for 'tips, tricks, and techniques, ' this book promises not an easy way forward but one that is faithful nonetheless."
--David F. White, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

"Root uses the current lament over the loss of the 'nones' to lay bare the ultimately secular understandings of faith that these concerns are grounded on. In exchange, he offers a more biblical, theological, and philosophically coherent vision of faith formation that is grounded in transcendence through participation in Christ. A volume worthy of careful study and consideration for the contemporary American church as a whole."
--Dave Scott, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Root's book is the perfect response to anyone looking at Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and wondering how in the world we got here. It is a masterful weaving together of history, the social sciences, and theological disciplines. Simply put, this book epitomizes what it means to be a practical theologian and ultimately leaves the reader knowing and loving God more."
--Amanda J. Drury, Indiana Wesleyan University
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Table of contents


Introduction: Bonhoeffer Thinks We're Drunk
Part 1: A History of the Age of Authenticity: The Challenge of Forming Faith
1. The Boring Church and the Pursuit of Authenticity
2. The History of Youthfulness
3. The Perceived Scam of the Mass Society
4. The Rise of the Hippie and the Obsession with Youthfulness
5. The Rise of Hip
6. Churches Filled with Bobos--the Beasts of Authenticity
Part 2: A Secular Age Meets Paul, and the Youthful Spirit Meets the Spirit of Ministry
7. Faith and Its Formation in a Secular Age
8. What Is Faith?
9. From Membership to a Mystical Union
10. The Music of Formation
11. Is God a Favor Bestower or Gift Giver?
Conclusion: Practical Steps to Consider as the Household of Ministry
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About Andrew Root

Andrew Root (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has authored numerous books, including Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, The Children of Divorce, Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry, and Relationships Unfiltered, and coauthored (with Kenda Creasy Dean) The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry.
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Rating details

239 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 43% (102)
4 37% (89)
3 17% (41)
2 1% (3)
1 2% (4)
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