New book on youth ministry published

Posted on December 09, 2018

Prof Malan Nel, extraordinary professor in the Department of Practical Theology, published a book entitled Youth Ministry: An Inclusive Missional Approach in December 2018.

This book’s target group is fellow academics on the national and international platform. It aims at contributing to the scientific and academic discourse as regards to the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of youth ministry. In the past, too often youth ministry has been approached from a mainly practical point of view, almost asking how we keep young people off the streets. Its methodology has often not included the theological and theoretical presuppositions that lie behind this ministry.

Previous scientific reflection has been determined by a one-dimensional and almost exclusive point of view. In comparison with existing literature, this book, however, does not focus so much on the ‘how’ of youth ministry. It innovates a different approach. The book challenges the existing exclusive approach and develops an inclusive, congregational and missional understanding of and approach to youth ministry.

The author finds himself agreeing even more today than when he first developed his understanding of youth ministry in his dissertation (published 1982) and in the first Afrikaans edition of this book in 1998, that there is no room for the so-called ‘future church heresy’ (Sara Little 1968). This reworked edition represents a more than 50% change with regard to the previous edition. The book embodies mainly a literature qualitative and descriptive methodological approach. The bibliography and extensive footnotes are a testimony to this.

From a particular perspective on the understanding the main objectives of Practical Theology, the author endorses the so-called movement of ‘what is supposed to be going on’ (Richard R. Osmer 2008). He adds the outcome of an empirical round table discussion with some 16 leaders in this field onto the descriptive and interpretive movements within the subject field: what is going on and why is it going on? This newness attributes to the substantial reworking in comparison with the previous editions and presents the first discussion of this nature in South Africa. The book will form the standard for any new research with regard to youth ministry.

The book’s contribution lies on the level of sound theological reasoning and argumentation (supported by many scholars) for an inclusive congregational understanding of ministry as an integral part of every congregation being missional in being and doing. Youth, children, adolescents and emerging adults, are just an integral part of every congregation within which they live and serve. The author calls this an inclusive and differentiated approach.

- Author

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