Every stage of life brings out certain human characteristics. According to Kenda Creasy Dean, adolescence is characterized by "passion. If the church is to speak meaningfully to youth and in turn reap the many benefits that youth have to offer, then its ministry must be predicated on passion -- the Passion of Christ, the passion of youth, and the passionate faith that is made possible when these two things come together.
"Practicing Passion offers a compelling new vision of effective youth ministry. Its uniqueness lies in its relocating youth ministry in practical theology rather than in educational theory or psychological or social development. While youth ministry has routinely capitalized on the passions of adolescents, little attention has been given to the theological mooring that youth need in order to connect with the church and hold firm against the winds of popular culture.
According to Dean, effective youth ministry begins from the top down. Does the church practice the passion it preaches? Teenagers are quick to point out the oxymoron in passionless Christianity, quick to question faith that fails to register on the Richter scale. Without passion, Christian faith fails, and young people know it -- which may be why most of them are not spending much time in church.
"Practicing Passion advocates a theological awareness for youth. In the first section of the book Dean focuses on the theological resonance between the Passion of Christ and adolescents' experience of passion. She then probes contemporary culture's distortion of three dimensions of pathos -- fidelity, transcendence, and communion -- showing how this distortion has affected contemporary adolescents struggling to acquire a coherent identity. Last, Dean suggests a framework for youth ministry that, by drawing on the historic practices of the Christian community, includes a "curriculum of passion."
Based on a solid understanding of Christian theology, adolescence