I regularly make a habit of reading new books. I especially like to remain inside with a good book to avoid the outside tundra. My goal is always to be learning and growing. For example, this last fall, I read a book about youth ministry called “The End of Youth Ministry: Why Parents Don’t Really Care about Youth Groups and What Youth Workers Should Do About It” by Andrew Root.
As I dove into this book by a youth ministry professor at Luther Seminary, I discovered that the way that many congregations have structured their youth group or Luther League programs is a better fit for the youth of the 1970s or 1980s. Andrew Root helps pastors and lay youth leaders to think intentionally about why congregations do what they do for their youth programs. Root encourages readers to think about the purpose of youth ministry. For him, youth ministry is not about happiness and fun, but rather joy. For congregations to foster joy among the youth, they need to move beyond the standard youth group or Luther League model and to take a close look at how parents imagine their identity and faith formation. What parents and youth are looking for from the church is quite different in the 21st century than in the 1980s when youth group ministry was popular.
This month, I would like to read an entirely different book. This month we are celebrating Black History Month, and because of this, I intentionally am picking a book that helps inform my understanding of the history of black people in the United States. This month I chose to read “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James Cone. The Amazon book summary is provided in the next paragraph so you can glimpse at what I will be reading through these few weeks.
“The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk. Both the cross and lynching tree represent the worst in human beings, and at the same time, a thirst for life that refuses to let the worst determine our final meaning. While the lynching tree symbolizes white power and black death, the cross symbolizes divine power and black life God overcoming the power of sin and death. For African Americans, the image of Jesus, hung on a tree to die, powerfully grounded their faith that God was with them, even in the suffering of the lynching era.”
May God bless you with the knowledge of the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. May God bless you with the wisdom to act with love and service. May God bless you with opportunities to learn and grow as disciples of Christ.
Pastor Tyler Hoey, February 2022