Theory of Religious Ministry to Youth: Faith Development and the Christ in Others Retreat

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This book builds upon doctoral research into the pastoral dynamics of the “Christ in Others” Retreat (COR), designed for late adolescents and which utilizes the faith development theory and research instrument of Dr. James W. Fowler. That study demonstrated that COR has potential to transform and support adolescent faith development. Insights were gained into youth ministry (YM) and the distinctive features of adolescent evangelization. This book synthesizes further reflection upon this dissertation, YM experience, and reading into a foundational method that can promise an effective ministry with youth. The book delineates five essential principles that need to come together to form a comprehensive program of YM. It is written for pastors, youth ministers, high school chaplains, campus ministers, teachers, parents and Christians who want to understand the unique dynamics of youth ministry: how to succeed, what to do, who should do what?


“To my knowledge, this book stands in a class all its own ... Reverend Yake’s challenge to youth educators and ministers is ambitious: it is theory-laden and practice-rich, and it is radical in the sense that it gets to the deep roots of Christian formation and practices that are necessary for shaping a Christian formation and challenging ministry with today’s youth ... Focusing on key aspects of faith development theory, he carefully and authentically describes how these retreats can engage and deepen the process of Christian growth with adolescents ... this book offers a tested, theoretically grounded and theoretically sound approach to the awakening and nurture of growth in faith and commitment for today’s youth, and for those who lead and minister with them.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Professor James W. Fowler, Emory University

“The author’s application of Fowler’s faith development theory provides rich insights into the faith growth of youth and why particular COR dynamics are effective. This is a unique perspective on ministry with youth. His theological foundations of youth ministry theory reflect sound Roman Catholic theology with application to young people ... This is definitely a work for the veteran minister who is familiar with the faith development theory of James Fowler and contemporary Catholic theology.” – John Roberto, Project Coordinator, Generations of Faith Project, Naugatuck

“ ... The author, in his thoughtful and thorough analysis of one youth retreat model, offers us a solid, scientific rationale for the success of youth retreats. Anchoring his presentation on a firm foundation of theological and pastoral principles, he helps practitioners better explain the value of youth retreats to others. Perhaps more importantly, he gives dedicated advocates of youth retreats a deeper understanding of the dynamics and transformative power of such programs, so that they might better develop and guide them in the future ... ” – Thomas M. Zanzig, Freelance Consultant in Ministry and Spirituality, Minnesota

“For too long the vision and practice of youth ministry has been based on anecdotal and experiential foundations, passed along from one practitioner to another and from one training program to another ... the author provides a solid theology of ministry and the pastoral and theological skills necessary for effective ministry to, with, and for young people ... Perhaps the most important insight is the author’s emphasis on a theology of friendship. If the Church is ever to be experienced as genuinely welcoming and inviting, entering first into an authentic relationship with young people is essential.” – Robert J. McCarty, Executive Director, National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry, Washington

Table of Contents

Commendatory Foreword by Dr. James W. Fowler
1. The Faith Development Theory of Dr. James W. Fowler
2. The Cultural Context for Youth Ministry
3. The Christ in Others Retreat (COR): A Window on Youth and Ministry
4. The Contribution of the COR Retreat Weekend to the Faith Development of Adolescents
5. The Evangelizing Potential of COR: Empirical Foundations of Youth Ministry Theory
6. Theological Foundations of Youth Ministry Theory
7. The Five Principles of Youth Ministry Theory: The Psychology of Youth Ministry
8. The Horizons and Limitations of Youth Ministry Theory
Appendix A
Illustrations, Figures, Tables

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