Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church by Kenda Creasy Dean
Practicing Passion had me thinking from the first page to after I finished the last page. Why would a 260 page book stir my thinking so much? Because I believe there are a lot of us in ministry who would like to think we are a part of a passionate congregation. We want to be involved with a passionate body of believers. To an extent, I would say we are a part of a passionate congregation. The question, though, is what are we passionate about and what does it show to the youth?
Students are full of passion; both good and bad. This inner passion draws them to search for something more; something deeper than anything surface-level and empty. As Dean says, “Adolescents do not want to suffer, but they do desperately want to love something worthy of suffering, and to be so loved.” And talking about the absence of passion from the church, Dean says this, “Without passion, Christian faith collapses. And young people know it – which may be why most of them are not spending time in church.”
Practicing passion is not about another program or class. It is about a lifestyle, an attitude and a response to what Jesus did and continues to do.
In a chapter on the longing for communion, Dean makes this statement about intimacy, “Intimacy represents the deeply spiritual search for another who knows what it is like to be ‘me.’” This is why young people are drawn to Jesus Christ, He understands what is it like to be them. This is also why teenagers are not drawn to some Christians or churches. They do not feel like they are understood.
One other downfall of many youth ministries is a failure to challenge the youth to something deeper and greater than themselves. “Failing to invite these youth into deeper theological water only convinces them that, because they are too big for the baby pool, they have ‘outgrown’ the church.” Thankfully, Dean spends many pages sharing ideas and practices to help get your students out of the baby pool.
Why should you read Practicing Passion? Because when a youth ministry is made up of people of Passion, people who live their life for Jesus and then ask the students to do the same, there is change. This type of youth ministry will transform young people, and it will transform the church.
My advice (rating) – go out and buy it (4 out of 5)