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BOOK REVIEWS

The second part o Sacred Companions provides an overview of the discipline


of spiritual direction. For those trained as spiritual directors, this part may seem
inadequate and a departure from the traditional way in which spiritual direc-
tion has been understood within the church. Benner suggests that "large num-
bers of Christians are already engaged in providing informal spiritual guidance
to others but have never had a name for it" (147). He contends that spiritual
direction provides a name for their ministry. Those interested in an inclusive
view of spiritual direction will be rewarded by Benner's approach. He provides
guidelines for direction and suggestions on how to proceed as a director. A
helpful mnemonic on how to attend to the place of dreams in spiritual direc-
tion is also explored. Benner includes examples of spiritual direction through
e-mail as well as through verbatims of life sessions. Those who have been called
and trained and maintain supervision as spiritual directors may be troubled by
the lack of accountability this model gives to the director.
In part three, Benner acknowledges that it can be difficult to find a spiritual
friend or spiritual director, so the final chapters of his book present two alter-
native routes for spiritual accompaniment. First, small groups allow for spiritual
companionship when they are structured so as to listen attentively to God and
one another. His methodology for this kind of group includes focusing on
Scripture through the lectio divina. A brief description of this classic method of
Bible reading is provided. Second, Benner suggests, based on his own experi-
ence, that married couples can offer spiritual direction to one another. This
paradigm departs from the constellation of literature on spiritual direction and
places Benner outside the traditional stream of thought. It also raises a number
of issues regarding appropriate boundaries and "detachment" between direc-
tor and directee.
For those interested in taking a deeper look into classic spiritual direction
and soul friendship, Benner concludes with a helpful part, Suggestions for
Further Reading, along with an annotated General Listing of authors to which
he refers.
In the interest of informing the Christian public about spiritual direction,
Sacred Companions provides a practical if not totally orthodox view of the disci-
pline. It may also serve to demythologize any mystique associated with the prac-
tice and actually increase awareness of spiritual companions as gifts for the
transformational journey.
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

Starting Bight: Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry edited by Kenda Creasy
Dean, Chap Clark, and Dave Rahn. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001. Pp. 398.
$34.00 cloth.
On the one hand, churches in the Reformed tradition have always prized a
well-educated clergy. Anyone who is to preach the Word, pastor a congregation,
and lead the church must exhibit a thorough understanding of the theological
CALVIN THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

foundations for that ministry. On the other hand, many churches who appoint
persons to ministry, specifically to the youth of their congregation, tend to slide
to the other end of the continuum. Personality, instincts, and the natural abil-
ity to socialize tend to be the primary qualifications sought in a youth pastor.
Perhaps a few weekend workshops on group dynamics, motivating volunteers,
or organizing a mission trip might be in order. But the word theology seems far
afield from the concern of these churches.
Dean, Clark, and Rahn address this tendency squarely in this much-needed
book on the theological foundations for youth ministry. This book is about
practical theologythat theology that takes seriously the Word of God, the
Christian tradition, and the contemporary cultural setting of the church. The
editors pull no punches in stressing the need for a solid theological foundation
for all ministry, including that of our ministry to youth. They propose a four-
step methodology for practical theology that serves as the primary organizing
principle for the book. Surrounding a concrete situation calling for Christian
action are four theological tasks: understanding what is happening in that sit-
uation, reflecting on what we are presently doing, evaluating those actions by
God's standards, and projecting how we can do this better. The methodology
is neither new nor unique. Many others have employed this approach to all of
ministry, not the least of whom is Thomas Grome in his Shanng Faith. The
value of this particular book is that the authors demonstrate the power of this
methodology when applied to youth ministry.
Using essays written by more than a score of authors, these three editors
have compiled a resource that should be in the hands of every youth pastor. In
section one, Understanding the Concrete Situation, essays lead readers
through an exploration of their own theological commitments and help them
assess the theological forces at work within their dominant culture. Mark
Cannister provides an excellent history of youth ministry, and Tony Camplo
challenges all youth pastors to take seriously the diversity of our global context.
Part two, The Present Practices in Youth Ministry, tends to be a smorgasbord
of approaches, addressing issues in youth ministry associated with evangelism,
families, leadership, and Christian lifestyle. This part lays the foundation for
part four, Projecting a More Faithful Ministry, in which various authors cast a
vision for the future of youth ministry.
The theological foundations are addressed most directly, however, in part
three of the book, "Detecting our Convictions and Evaluating Our Practices."
Four insightful and heuristic essays lead the reader through the theologies of
repentance, grace, redemption, and hope. Each essay not only develops a solid
biblical foundation but also draws practical and significant conclusions for the
church's ministry to youth.
If your church has hired a youth pastor, or has called a number of dedicated
volunteers to function as youth leaders, buy this book as a resource. If you are
the senior pastor, I would encourage you to read the book yourself and then

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BOOK REVIEWS

form a study group within your church. Among the first things you should read
and discuss is chapter 3, "Growing Up Postmodern: Theological Uses of
Culture." The same value of having a highly educated and theologically clergy
must apply as well to those entering specialized ministries in the church.
Starting Right may in fact help your congregation start right in the area of youth
ministry.
Robert C. DeVries

Church Planting: Laying Foundations by Stuart Murray. Scottdale, Pa: Herald


Press, 2001. Pp. 288. $19.99 paper.
The psalmist speaks of the Creator's laying the foundations of the earth.
Jesus says that the house of the wise builder did not fall because it had its foun-
dation on the rock. Paul writes that no one can lay any foundation other than
Jesus Christ. Stuart Murray in his book Church Planting: Laying Foundations
wants to be sure that church planting has good foundations. While Murray's
book is not inspired Scripture, it is a wonderful beginning toward exploring
"some of the theological, missiological and ecclesiological issues raised by
church planting" ( 18). A British church planter, Murray writes a solid and stim-
ulating book that provides theological reflection on the current church-plant-
ing movement. He invites us to join him in his aim "to construct a theological
framework for church planting that will provide a more secure foundation for
action, and a more sensitive basis for evaluation and planning, than currently
appear to be available" (18).
In this review, as we give an overview of the content, let some comments of
the author reveal how he is willing to ask the tough questionsand provide
some surprising answers.
Murray begins with a startling (and valid) statement: 'The church planting
movement needs to listen to its critics." He points out that there are church
plants that are struggling, that there are ways not to plant churches, but that
there are also bad reasons for not planting churches. He addresses three broad
objections to church planting:
Objection 1 : There are enough churches already. We should concentrate on
improving existing churches rather than planting new churches (20).
Objection 2: Church planting weakens the mission and ministry of the
churches by dividing their resources and minimizing their impact (25).
Objection 3: Church planting has become an end in itself rather than a
means to an end. It has distorted the biblical understanding of the mission
of the church (30).
Murray's exploration of these objections leads to some interesting one-liners:
'There are good reasons for closing churches" (25).
"If this mission can be accomplished through the churches that already
exist, then church planting is unnecessary" (25).
^ s
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