My good friend, fellow staff member, collaborator and thought partner, Erik Leafblad will begin working on a PhD at Luther Seminary beginning this fall. Erik will continue some of his key roles at Youthfront but his Youthfront job descriptions shifts to a primary focus of earning a PhD in Theology. Erik is perfectly designed for this task and I am thrilled for him, along with the rest of our staff. If you want a glimpse into Erik's thinking then you should consider these two resources.
The first is especially relevant in the midst of Holy Week. The current edition of the Immerse Journal features an article by Erik entitled "God Loses." I'm telling you that the price of an Immerse subscription is so worth it when you get the quality of articles such as Erik's in edition after edition. While you must be a subscriber to read Erik's article (SUBSCRIBE NOW :-), you can see Daniel Shroyer's response to "God Loses" online here.
The second resource from Erik comes from the Youthfront Book Shorts Series published by Barefoot Publications. His book short entitled, Youth Workers as Spiritual Guides: Spiritual Theology as Living Knowledge, should be consumed and contemplated by thousands of youth workers. I hope Erik’s ideas shape the way youth workers construct their ministry theology and praxis.
Erik Leafblad has a brilliant theological mind and youth workers should be thankful that he is focusing his theological work on youth ministry. Erik helps us examine Friedrich Schweitzer’s work on the social dynamics of Pluralization, Individualization and Privatization and how these impact religious ideals of the young people we minister to. Erik gives us insight in how we might navigate through the current cultural landscape in guiding youth into meaningful and sustaining Christian formation.
Erik makes the case for leading youth deeply into the Story of God and why and how youth must see their own personal stories intersect with God’s overarching story. Erik believes that youth workers should not underestimate young peoples ability to think deeply and sophisticatedly about theology, meaning and life. The wise youth worker, who serves as a spiritual guide for young people, must help them make the critical connection to participation with God’s Mission. When someone gets clarity of what it means to actively participate with Jesus Christ’s ministry it is life altering and unshakable.
Envisioning small groups of youth workers sitting around discussing the concepts in this book short make my heart beat with excitement about the impact potential this would have on the youth worker’s churches, communities, congregants, young people and even their own lives with God.
*The cool thing about this book short series is the fact that they are downloadable and can be reproduced by youth workers to engage in conversation with their volunteer staff for the purpose of training and shaping the ethos of the youth ministry of a church.