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Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church [Paperback]

By Kenda Creasy Dean (Author)
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Item description for Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church by Kenda Creasy Dean...

Focusing on the theological resonance between the Passion of Christ and adolescents' experience of passion, the author develops a framework for youth ministry that draws on the historic practices of the Christian community as a "curriculum of passion".

Publishers Description
Every stage of life brings out certain human characteristics, and according to Kenda Creasy Dean, adolescence is particularly characterized by passion. If the church is to speak meaningfully to youth and in turn reap the many benefits that young people have to offer, then its ministry must be predicated on passion the Passion of Christ, the passion of youth, and the passionate faith that results when these two things come together. The uniqueness of Practicing Passion lies in its relocating youth ministry in practical theology rather than in educational theory or psychological or social development. While youth ministry has routinely capitalized on the passions of adolescents, little attention has been given to the theological mooring that youth need to connect with the church and hold firm amid the growing demands of popular culture. Focusing on the theological resonance between the Passion of Christ and adolescents experience of passion, Dean develops a framework for youth ministry that draws on the historic practices of the Christian community as a curriculum of passion. Offering a compelling new model for reaching, discipling, and empowering today s young adults, Practicing Passion is a vital resource for anyone already engaged in or preparing for youth ministry.

Awards and Recognitions
Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church by Kenda Creasy Dean has received the following awards and recognitions -
  • Book of the Year - 2005 Winner - Top 10 category

Citations And Professional Reviews
Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church by Kenda Creasy Dean has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christian Century - 07/12/2005 page 34
  • Christian Century - 10/19/2004 page 35

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pages   260
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6.18" Height: 0.68"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 26, 2004
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0802847129  
ISBN13  9780802847126  

Availability  2 units.
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More About Kenda Creasy Dean

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Kenda Creasy Dean is Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture, at Princeton Theological Seminary. She worked on the National Study of Youth and Religion and is the author of several books, including The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending in Youth Ministry and Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church.

Kenda Creasy Dean was born in 1959.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry

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Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Program Resources

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Reviews - What do customers think about Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church?

good message, could have been better said  Aug 29, 2007
Dean's thesis is that our churches lack passionate youth because we are not passionate about the death of Christ for our sins and his resurrection (i.e., His passion). It goes as follows:
1. The Passion of Christ shows God's passion.
2. Youth who understand this lives passionate lives that bring God glory
3. Our youth are not living passionate lives which bring God glory
4. Therefore, we must not be emphasising the gospel; the Passion of Christ as we should be.

I wholeheartedly agree with the direction this author is trying to take and welcome such a refreshing voice that believes that youth groups should be about more than pizza parties, they should be gospel centred in preaching as well as practice.

The reason I only gave this book containing this great thesis is as follows:

1. I had hoped to be able to give this book to my youth leaders, but the style is too long and scholarly. It could have been said in much fewer pages as she seems to bring up the same ideas more than once. I believe that this book was her thesis paper converted into a book. It does not easily lend itself to group reading outside of academia.

2. The author does not deal with scripture very much at all. I found this unusual since the book was calling us to theological depth in emphasising the atonement. I believe that one cannot be truly successful in developing a Christian theology for youth ministry unless the ideas are cultivated from Scripture. That is not to say I believe her ideas heretical, they are (mostly) biblical. It's just that the reader is forced to take Dean's good ideas as just that, speculative ideas. If she had interacted more with scripture the reader could have walked away with a greater confidence knowing the thesis is based on revelation and not mere speculation.

I liked what she is saying and recommend the book to those who have time to read and are engaged in leadership positions in youth ministry.
Do not work in a church without reading this book!!!  Jan 3, 2007
Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean offers a provocative challenge to the church: do ministry and "be" a church which pursues the passion of every generation. The passion of Jesus Christ was the event which changed the course of human history. Dean offers tremendous insight into what that means for us to day in the church. Dean suggests that there is untapped passion in the lives of students and these students are already between the walls of the church. If we want them to stay there, we need to engage their passion. The passion which can lead them in ways that we can only dream about is the passion which comes from a faith in Jesus Christ. This book will help youth pastors, pastors, parents, educators, and anybody who loves students catch a vision for a church that will change the world by witnessing to the love of Jesus Christ. This will require the sacrifice of some of what we hold dear, but then not that the call of Christ. This is a must have volume for your shelf. Read it, know it, learn it, and then live it.
Read this book. Yesterday.  Aug 12, 2006
In a nutshell: 1. Mainline denominations are having trouble reaching youth. 2. Youth are passionate people. 3. The gospel is fundamentally about passion -- Christ's passion. 4. Our churches lack passion. 5. Solution for reaching youth boils down to the church becoming passionate about the gospel.

But Dean says all this much better than I do. Listen to this (p. 25): "What if mainline Protestantism's disappointing track record with young people (in and beyond the church) has not been primarily a failure of models, educational strategies, historical cycles, or institutional support, but a failure of theology? Is it possible that the "problem" facing youth ministry reflects all too accurately a malaise infecting mainline denominations generally: a flabby theological identity due to an absence of passion? That would be ironic. Most young people come to us brimming with passion. Could it be that, instead of fanning this youthful zeal into holy fire, we have more often doused it, dismissed it, or drowned it in committee meetings? The theological challenge youth pose to the church is blunt: Are we who we say we are? Do we practice passion, transformed by a Love who never disappoints, and live by a faith so convincing that we stake our lives on it? Or are we just another sagging social convention, like Dracula, that needs young blood to survive?"

The whole book is written with that much passion. Dean argues, passionately, that if we are to speak meaningfully to youth, we must first connect the passion of Christ with the passion of youth. When that happens, the result is a passionate faith.

Care about youth? Care about the state of the church? Read this book. Yesterday.
Excelent Resources for Ministry, especially Youth Ministry  Sep 12, 2005
Creasy Dean writes at a time when the Church is declining, when people do not find the Church attractive any more and when the world around us is offering, with passion, unreliable solutions for problems, while the Church is loosing its passion and therefore its people.
She shows a real concern for the passionless Church that has no power to attract passionate youth to its life and most of all has no solution for the young passionate hearts that are searching for "something to die for".
This is a very complex book written with a highly academic style and the roots of her book are based in theology. She is able to find logical and theological solutions for issues that youth are dealing with, in today's society, and all of her solutions are closely related to Christian Passion, in fact to Jesus Christ's Passion. She is placing the youth ministry with all its vulnerabilities in practical theology in stead of looking for the available secular options.
Creasy Dean stresses that in order to have a live Church there must be a live group of youths that are involved in the life of the Church, and in order to have this, the Gospel must be preached with passion, the Church activities must have a motivation and passion at least equal to youth passion, and that passion is found in Christ's passion alone.
Since the adolescent age group, is the most vulnerable age group of mankind, is the age group where the personal identity is formed, and youths are desperately searching for something worth living for or something worth dying for, they want to "love something worthy of suffering, and to be so loved" (p.2).
As adolescents are trying out many different types of passion, they very often end up being badly hurt and suffering consequences that may last for years, Creasy Dean is promoting the only valid type of passion "who is really worthy of sacrifice, who really does love us selflessly and extravagantly - the Love who never disappoints, who will not let them down, and who will not go away" (p 20) and this is not just any type of passion or a very special passion, is the passion of Jesus Christ.

In the first section of the book, "Shared Passions", Creasy Dean is showing the power of Christ's passion as subversive, as something to die for. She is pursuing a line of passionate love, a love that motivated Jesus Christ to come and die for humans; and now the challenge that she puts before us is to love and serve Christ unconditionally, "because if Jesus isn't worth dying for, then he's not worth living for, either" (p 32).
Adolescents have very often been involved with the "wrong crowds", and than end up suffering for the wrong passions and not only the youth from "bad homes" or from areas with integration and/or social-economic problems but youth from all social classes end up in a very difficult state, and that is due to the fact that they are not exposed and introduced properly, to the only passion that will match their passion, Jesus Christ's passion. By contrast, "Adolescents who develop Christian identities really are menaces to society. An adolescent who knowingly shares in the freedom of God, who participates in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, inevitably unmasks culturally accepted forms of domination, greed, and fear" (p 34)
Creasy Dean is saying that if the Passion of Christ is loosing its intensity in Christian theology or "if the Christian risk factor - the Cross- were to fade from the forefront of Christian Education" (p 36) than Christians will not be able to withstand the pressure of alternate passions that are being promoted everyday on our door steps, at schools, playground and even in the Church.
On the other hand, some Churches have tried to downgrade their theological standards, the importance and uniqueness of the Cross, in an attempt to be more relevant to the society and by doing that they have also downgraded their passion in ministry and their passion in Christian practices. As a result, they failed to help youths fulfil "their need not only to hope for the future, but to be forgiven in the present; their acceptance not only of Christian love, but of Christian oddity", and that is because "without a doctrine of sin, divine-human reconciliation was unnecessary, allowing ministry to convert divine passion into a form of righteous energy directed toward human reconciliation" (p 45).
In their search for identity, adolescents are confronted with various public characters, which might seem as the "ideal person to be like" and they start copying, entering a process of identification, only to realise soon or later that have been let down and disappointed. Creasy Dean comes and rightly suggests that the only person worthy identifying with, that will never "let down", that will never cause disappointment, that will always "be there", is Jesus Christ.
Now, those adolescents that wish to identify with Christ enter a process of transformation in order to identify their passion with Christ's passion until Christ's love and passion is reflected by their lives and His will of spreading the Good News is fulfilled.
Through out the history there has been a conflict between generations in the church, but there has been a greater conflict between adolescents and the older generation, and that is due to the fact that the passionless Church has a problem with passionate youth. As the youth passion is a vulnerable "burning passion" which requires the same kind of passion in response, is true to say that youth many times make sinful mistakes even in their process of identifying with Christ and the Church tends to associate sin with passion.
As the process of identity with Christ's passion goes on, youth encounter another problem: the lack of identification and as a quick response to that problem they "borrow" personalities, "thoughts and feelings from those around us who seem more competent and in control, or whom we admire or even fear and than substitute their thoughts and feelings for our own" (Mass Robin p 62)
A passionate Church will always have the ability, resources and determination to allow youth with their natural passion to identify with Christ's passion. "When the passions of adolescence meet the Passion of Christ, a figure-ground shift takes place: the developing ego moves back in order to make space in the foreground for the passion of God" (p 69) and that is all a passionate Church will ever dream to have from their youth.

The second section of the book, "Dimensions of Passion", deals with the "Divine Passion" which is revealed as "God's Fidelity", "Transcendence" and "Communion" that addresses the adolescent's desire for "Steadfastness", "Ecstasy" and "Intimacy" which meets their developmental needs for "Acceptance", "Feeling part of Greatness" and "Camaraderie".
It is absolutely truth to say that all of us are "longing for fidelity", but for youth in their developing stages fidelity is valued more than anything else. A passionate Church with a passionate youth group must have a few people that will correctly fill the need of "being there" for youth in their times of struggle as well as in their times of victory. If the Church is not there to fill this need for youths, than they will go outside the Church to find someone that will be ready to listen and "be there" even if they have Christ who is there for them and will never disappoint, but as Creasy Dean says they need a "community of affirming, others must "be there" for them, demonstrating steadfast love on their behalf" (p 77).
Youth "longing for fidelity" is so demanding, that they would expect the person they trust to be there for them in any moment of need, still, even if the person they trust is 100% dedicated, there will come a time when that person will not be there in the hour of need and youth must learn that ultimately is God's fidelity they need.
Adolescents often trust their inexperienced feelings, allowing feelings to direct their judgement and based on that position they validate various Christian activities. If they are in ecstasy while worshiping it will automatically come under the heading that God is present and active in their worship, therefore Christianity is valid.
These moments of ecstasy are like a two-sided knife, it can do well, but at the same time can be a dangerous ground due to the risk of feeling manipulated by ecstatic experiences, and this may make them to run away from anything that might look or fell mystical and mysterious.
In their "longing for transcendence" youth with an impatient passion will realise "after many false starts... that not just any ideology will do; not all truths are equally trustworthy, not all causes are "to die for", not all gods offer fidelity that invites our own" (p 109). Creasy Dean suggests that adolescents will always want someone to communicate with, to be attached to, to care for, to be there for them, to express their passion with, to be in fact connected to and although sex is not their aim, in order to get the required fulfilment of fidelity and intimacy, it might end up with sex believing that it will satisfy their soul emptiness. Some will, probably, tacitly force the "hand" of their partner by having sex only to have the assurance that the partner will not leave.
But without the right passionate Church, that will gently lead youth along the way of knowing Jesus Christ in a personal and intimate way, in their "longing for communion" may end up with loads of physical experiences and with an emptiness in their souls, that will make them lose the trust in themselves and people around them and with a great danger that the emptiness they experience might never be filled.
The book demonstrates that the adolescent hearth is "longing for communion" (spiritual friendship), and if the Church is not there to fulfil that need then youths will try and fill the gap with secular apparently matching responses to their needs.
Terrific Youth Ministry Resource  Sep 8, 2005
This book is one of the best I've read on what is truly at stake and essential in youth ministry. It does come with a warning though: One adult volunteer I gave it to found it overwhelming at first read. So I highly recommend it for those in the field and in the habit of talking about these things, but recommend perhaps wading in with some other ones (maybe The Godbearing Life, which Dean co-authored) before tackling this one. But do reach that point, if you at all can.

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