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I’m 20 years old, so if there’s one thing I know, it’s that the church wants me.
It wants young people—passionately, desperately, fearfully. There’s a pulsating panic that the North American church is going to fall apart and die out unless they get young people.
Church - Today - Obsession - Youthfulness
The church today has an undeniable obsession with youthfulness.
Andrew Root—chair of youth and family ministry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota—speaks into this cultural moment with his new book, Faith Formation in a Secular Age: Responding to the Church’s Obsession with Youthfulness. Building on the writings of philosopher Charles Taylor, Root offers a scholarly yet approachable perspective on what youth ministry should look like—and when it falls short.
Root - Historian - Half - Book - Century
Root is a meticulous historian, and the first half of the book is dedicated to figuring out how we got here. He traces the last century’s changing philosophy, as society moved from an age of duty and honor to what Taylor calls the “age of authenticity.” Root defines the label this way: “The age of authenticity asserts that we should be directed by nothing outside us but only by what we find meaningful within us” (17).
This is the ethos of expressive individualism: Follow your heart, be true to yourself, create your own destiny, define truth for you. And this ethos has significantly changed how we think, work, shop, teach, raise kids—and, yes, even how we form churches.
Root - Everything - Age - Authenticity - Shifts
Root is careful to say that not everything about the age of authenticity is false or negative; nevertheless, it has caused seismic shifts that have yielded blind spots. And one blind spot is the newfound cultural obsession with youthfulness. In a culture that values authenticity above all else, young people are deemed the most authentic members. As Root puts it, “Youth became the priests of cool who inherited the practices, perspectives, and predispositions...
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