Immerse is a new journal / magazine aimed at youth ministers. Mike King & Chris Folmsbee are the more notable drivers of this new adventure. I received a copy in the post recently and so I sat down to read it.
Now if you read this blog regularly you know I review lots of books. There are a ton of books I do not review partly because I am really fussy. If a book has not grabbed my attention or tweaked my interest in the first few pages then it is thrown aside – that may be a bad habit, but that’s me.
With a majority (no, I think all) of youth ministry magazines I get bored within minutes. When I was a youth minister I eventually cancelled all subscriptions for youth ministry magazines because i never found anything helpful in them. Again, that is just me. I am sure many find much use in the various Youth Magazines / journals. From my own perspective, I rarely read anything new in these magazines. Also, I am never sure for whom the writers are writing for. Are they writing to teenagers, or to youth ministers who are teenagers, or are they trying to sound relevant and ’emerging’ and so write to adult youth ministers in a teen voice? Again, this my own view, but Immerse, Youth Ministry Journal, Youthwork and many other magazines all, essentially have the same content, aimed at the same people, written in the same way.
It is for this reason that I have a great deal of respect for Dr Pete Ward. His Masters in Youth Ministry course which he teaches out of Kings College London requires a high level of thinking and theological engagement. You may disagree with Ward on many issues (and I do) but there is no doubt that he has tried to change the level which Youth Ministers think and operate theologically – and that has to be welcomed.
How about a youth ministry magazine that engages in biblical studies, theology, doctrine, pastoral theology, church history. How about a youth magazine that stretches it’s readers to go deep into texts and theological issues and textual problems and then relate that into your youth group? How about engaging with the original languages?
My own preference as a youth minister and now as an assistant rector has been to invest time in theological journals. Reading such journals makes me THINK and engage with various texts – stretching my understanding and forcing me to go deeper, which in turn gives me a storehouse of understanding about a text. The challenge, which is the big challenge in youth ministry, is to then relate that to a teenager. But then, that is what contextualization is al about, isn’t it.