Consuming Youth
John Bernard, James Penner & Rick Bartlett
Zondervan, December 2010, 192 pp., $16.99

It is no secret that western culture’s obsession with consuming is having a huge impact on teenagers and the messages they hear about themselves. How did we get to this point, and where do we go from here? In Consuming Youth, co-authors John Bernard, James Penner and Rick Bartlett, give a thorough response to these questions.

As the book is broken into two sections, there is a great balance between the history of our consumer culture and how we as youth workers should reimagine youth ministry. The first half of the book is part sociology, part psychology and part history as the authors look back at the past 100 years and trace how our consumer culture has come to exist. They also give an in-depth look at the effect it has had on teens.

In the second half of the book, they challenge youth workers to evaluate our methodology. They suggest that perhaps consciously or unconsciously we communicate a consumerist message about faith. They then advise some new directions based on a case study of a successful program called Ministry Quest.
Consuming Youth is a great book for anyone starting out in ministry or for someone who is trying to rethink ministry. The authors even provide fantastic, in-depth questions at the end of each chapter to help. When you read this book, you will come away with a great overview of youth ministry history and great suggestions on how to move forward.

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