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Young People & Worship Young People & Worship
A Practical Guide

Mark Montgomery (Editor)
ISBN 9780715140574 (0715140574)
Church House Publishing, 2007

Category: Youth Work and Ministry

This is the second volume in a new series from Church House Publishing responding to the Church of England's National Youth Strategy. It brings together contributions from ten writers, six men and four women, with extensive experience in working with young people both inside and outside of church contexts: these are not detached theorists telling us how things ought to be but hands-on practioners telling us the way things are — and daring to look at how things could be if church leaders are willing to be adventurous with their young people.

The book has been carefully thought through and is presented in a lively, accessible style that lives up to its subtitle, A Practical Guide. Important points are pulled out and highlighted, magazine-style, hooks to grab your attention, making it very easy to skim through and pick up on the sections that interest you. There are four main sections:

  1. An Introduction to Worship
  2. Creative Approaches to Liturgy
  3. New Forms of Worship
  4. Spirituality

Sections 1 to 3 each offer two or three chapters broken down into easily digestible chunks: Introduction; The Issue, exploring the main theme of the chapter; Theory and Background, setting out what's involved and outlining the biblical/theological basis; Need to Know, giving practical pointers; Case Studies, real life examples; Thinking It Through, with questions for reflection and/or group discussion; Summary; and Taking It Further, detailing resources, websites and further reading. There is, perhaps inevitably, some repetition here, but this only serves to reinforce their importance: if more than one contributor has found particular resources useful, they undoubtedly deserve further investigation.

Section 4, Spirituality, offers two closely linked chapters that depart somewhat from this pattern but which nonetheless aim to give the same practical perspective: "Christian spirituality, or the work of God in our lives" we're told, "is nothing if it is not about the everyday." (p.131-2).

Finally, Mark Montgomery offers a "Postscript" section asking "Is Sunday linked with Monday?" This is one of the key issues running through the entire book: worship isn't something just done in church on Sundays, nor is engaging young people simply about introducing guitars and better or more energetic music — worship is rather a whole-life activity, about being connected with God at all levels and at all times.

Two other issues are also reiterated: for worship to connect with young people, they need to be connected to the worship — worship needs to be owned rather than imposed; and ideas cannot be simply transferred wholesale but need to be remixed, recontextualised — young people are far from all the same and something that worked for one group won't necessarily work with another without considerable adaptation.

Whether you're a youth worker looking for fresh inspiration or a church leader seeking a way forward to engage your young people, there's sure to be something for you here. If it's prepackaged ready-meal solutions you're hoping for, you'll be disappointed; but if it's food for thought and ideas for action you want, be prepared to be both challenged and encouraged.

List of Contributors
Craig Abbott, David Brown, Diane Craven, Jean Kerr, Richard Lamey, Pete Maidment, Susie Mapledoram, Mark Montgomery, Tim Sledge and Helen Williams

Related Titles
Making Sense of Generation Y
Wired For A Life Of Worship

Phil Groom, May 2007

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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