Review: ‘Unpacking Scripture in Youth Ministry’ – Andrew Root

by James Fawcett October 27, 2014 A

This is the third book in the series (of four) it continues the story of the imaginary youth worker ‘Nadia’. As we follow her trials and tribulations we are lead through a basic but significant understanding, theology and doctrine of using the bible with young people.

He begins by looking at some of the historic ways that youth ministry has worked with the bible;

‘Part of our problem may be that we want kids to posses biblical knowledge rather than learn to be interpreters.’ Pg 26

He goes on to explain that in the culture that we live today, with the ability to have several translations and commentaries in our pocket via the internet and a smart phone;

‘…access is more important than memory; we surrender our memory over to gigabytes.’ Pg25

His argument therefore is that we no longer need to have memory verses as in the past etc but we need to help young people construct meaning. I’m not 100% sure what I think about this, I think helping young people to construct meaning is essential and it is not that I am a big memory verse person, but there is something important for me on meditating on verses for a protracted period of time. Really thinking about them and asking God to reveal himself through them.

Nadia continues in the unbelievable manner previously mentioned in other blogs (below) and comes to some major and well developed understanding on the use of the bible with young people. Root suggests;

Youth Ministry invites young people to pick up the Bible not as a tool of religious socialisation or moral maintenance, but as a tool for interpreting who God is and how God is moving in their worlds, sweeping their very lives up into the new reality of God's action. Pg 90

So our work with young people and the bible should be to help young people see God, his character through the scripture but also his action in our lives and in the world around us. Our job as youth workers, Root suggests is to point this out to young people and for young people to point this out to us in a mutual reading of the bible. How we do this is simple;

So our goal in youth ministry isn't getting kids to be biblically literate, but to invite them to read the Bible. The point is to read. Pg 100

Root suggests it is through the reading together and individually that young people will be pointed to God. Without the pressure of ensuring young people have something to ‘take away’, that they will have learnt something new about the bible but that they will have experienced something of God. Matt Valler from the Alchemy Project, raises some interesting points, in his video although I don’t think they are particularly new problems but maybe brought into sharper focus by the current trends he identifies.

You can get the book here.