In simpler, more homogenous times, youth ministry was a relatively straightforward activity. The church's youth gathered (occasionally inviting their unchurched friends from school), played together, sang together and listened together to a message from a bright, engaging youth minister, selecting from a relatively defined set of topics: "What does it mean to follow Jesus when it comes to _______?"
Now Christian youth must make sense of their faith, with its exclusive claims, in light of their close friends who are Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, "other" or even "none." And increasingly other religions are taking their cues for rooting and establishing their youth from Christian ministry practices, so that our kids are being invited to outreach events sponsored by other faiths.
Veteran youth minister and researcher Len Kageler digs into the data surrounding this exciting multifaith era and offers surprising confidence that our kids can be guided into mature Christian faith while simultaneously learning to love their neighbors of other religions.
What you hold in your hands is a unique book. I honestly know of none quite like it. But its uniqueness should not be interpreted as novel or niche; this book is of the utmost importance. Faith and pluralism have become (at times tensely) linked in late modernity. It is nearly impossible--at least in the Western world--to imagine one without the other. Our young people, perhaps even more than adults, feel both the possibilities and problems with this linking. It then is a great gift to have before us Youth Ministry in a Multifaith Society. It promises to deepen your perspective and practice of youth ministry, and challenge you at every turn. Embrace it as the gift it is.
We all need this book written by an active youth minister and vigilant scholar. Its topic has been largely ignored; its research and theology are compelling. Kageler's data on Muslim youth ministry alone makes looking into this work worthwhile, but there's more. Who's gaining and who's losing across the religious field? How does Christ win in multifaith contexts? How does all this work out in practical youth ministry? The book's answers make this a must for youth pastors' libraries.
Center for Youth Studies, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Len Kageler describes a territory for youth ministry that is certainly growing more complex. Postmoderns, syncretists, 'nones,' 'religious others'--the context of our ministry is both multifaith and multifaceted. In his Youth Ministry in a Multifaith Society, Kageler provides a ministry map to navigate this challenging territory. He describes the theological underpinnings of various youth ministry approaches and their practical applications, illustrated by stories from his personal and ministerial experiences. As a Catholic youth ministry leader, I understand that differences exist between faith traditions. Kageler navigates those differences honestly, emphasizing a pastoral theology of presence and power that fosters a Christian faith identity in our young people. This is a valuable resource for youth ministers serious about our shared mission.
-Robert J. McCarty,
National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry
Len Kageler delivers a timely, much-needed perspective on the challenges of ministry in multifaith societies. The text is content-rich and globally aware, pulling together many threads of research into one seamless must-read book for thinking youth workers.
-Andy du Feu,
Moorlands College, Christchurch, UK
Len Kageler has created an important resource for everyone involved in youth ministry in this century, youth pastors, parents, youth ministry educators and students of youth ministry alike. This well-written masterpiece provides coverage of a number of important issues and techniques that are not commonly treated in youth ministry textbooks. For the first time, this book shows youth workers how to ground their young people in their faith while encouraging their relationships with friends of other faiths. Anyone involved in youth ministry will treasure this book because it provides another avenue to help youth workers become reflective, observant and engaged in doing youth ministry in a multifaith society. If you are in any way concerned with the future of global youth ministry, you owe it to yourself to read this book!
-Rev. Nathan H. Chiroma,
ECWA Theological Seminary, Jos, Nigeria
With a contagious passion for both quantitative research and Christology, and particularly the challenging interrelationship between the two, Len Kageler invites Christian youth ministers around the globe to rethink youth ministry in a multifaith society. Although writing out of a North American context, Kageler offers thoughtful reflections, insights and ideas that may prove helpful for youth ministers in other parts of the world who are faithfully seeking to develop a pastoral theology for youth ministry in an emerging multifaith society.
-Bard Eirik Hallesby Norheim,
NLA University College, Bergen, Norway
Through disturbing statistics, delightful stories and a deep study of Scripture, Dr. Len Kageler unpacks a distinctive way youth ministry ought to be done in our different-religions-embracing, diverse world. My mind started unlearning while my heart started burning when I read this brilliant book!
G4 Mission, India
In a vivid description Kageler gives different perspectives on youth ministry in a reality that affects us all: multifaith. His elaboration on and suggestions for the complex field of religiosity, youth and pluralism are innovative. After reading this book, one will consider one's own views on pluralism and approaches in youth ministry from a christological point of view. This is an informative and relevant book for the contexts of Europe and the United States. I highly recommend it.
-Rev. Ronelle Sonnenberg,
Protestant Church in the Netherlands
Youth Ministry in a Multifaith Society is a timely and relevant resource, especially for our part of the world, where we brush shoulders with those of various faiths (or of no faith) on a daily basis and where many of our youth are growing up biblically and doctrinally illiterate and confused, unable to discern truth from falsehood, at a loss to defend their faith and incapable of 'dividing the word of truth' properly. Furthermore, the predominant culture encourages them to exercise extreme tolerance toward other faiths (lest they be branded religious bigots) and even encourages a religious-smorgasbord attitude, where they feel free to dabble in the 'best of the best' of other religions and integrate it with their own. This book would greatly aid youth ministers, professors and Christian educators in establishing our students in the faith, while ministering to those whose faiths are different or nonexistent.
-Anne De Jesus-Ardina,
Alliance Graduate School, Metro Manila, Philipines
Youth Ministry in a Multifaith Society is a must-have for all youth workers, especially those living in international or urban contexts. With the global rise of postmodernity and pluralism, it is essential for youth workers to understand the foundations of other religious traditions and the importance of youth religiosity. Dr. Kageler's in-depth research and statistical analysis is the most comprehensive look thus far into this social and religious phenomenon from the perspective of youth culture and ministry. Living in France, I can assure the viewpoints expressed in this book are commonplace and will be the majority understanding among younger generations in the United States. With grace and truth, Kageler discloses the core beliefs and impact of other faith traditions, while exploring how Christianity can both come alongside these faiths in partnership while also remaining a transformative agent in today's youth culture. This book is not only informative but has inspired me to reaffirm and appreciate my own faith and the call to help students flourish spiritually with a viable faith that makes a difference in their lives and the world.
-Rev. Dan Haugh,
pastor of youth and young adults, The American Church in Paris, France