Fortress Press

To Mend the World: A New Vision for Youth Ministry

To Mend the World

A New Vision for Youth Ministry

Jason Lief (Author), Kurt Rietema (Author)


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Increasingly, social entrepreneurship-- the disruption of the status quo for the purpose of creating new solutions to social issues--provides an important catalyst for cultural and social change. To Mend the World: A New Vision for Youth Ministry brings together practical theology, Christian ministry, and social entrepreneurship for a new approach to work with young people.

This interdisciplinary conversation begins with a simple premise: the old models of ministry are no longer working. Young people and emergent adults are shaped more by the dominant culture than the practices of the Christian community. Churches frantically create ministry programs to address this reality, but these attempts either run parallel to the dominant cultural narratives or are co-opted and undermined by them.

To Mend the World, written by a practical theologian and a practitioner, draws on the principles and practices of social entrepreneurship to provide ministry leaders with a thoughtful, robust theological perspective along with practical insights for youth ministry today and tomorrow.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506481227
  • eBook ISBN 9781506481234
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 154
  • Publication Date June 27, 2023


To Mend the World is a wise and wide-awake book about youth ministry. Jason Lief and Kurt Rietema, experienced in their work with young people, recognize that the old ways of youth ministry no longer work. Their approach, in every way one can imagine, is "both-and": both transcendent and immanent, both theoretical and practical, both active and reflective. They see youth ministry as essentially an interpretive task wherein hands-on lived experience and faith claims function in interactive illumination. Their aim is to equip young Christians for an effective, faithful life in the real world, and to help them be knowingly reflective about the menacing, seducing ideologies all around us and committed to creative, imaginative work toward a mended world.

Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary

Jason Lief and Kurt Rietema are two of the boldest and wisest people I know thinking about and doing youth ministry. To Mend the World puts this on display in technicolor. The book is deeply thoughtful and helpful. I've been worried that those drawing from innovation theory and social entrepreneurship have not had the patience, attention, and spirit to ask larger theological and philosophical questions to back these practices. However, Lief and Rietema have wonderfully questioned and reworked lessons from these fields of thought. There is much to learn, some things to disagree with, but much more that can bless the minister, young people, and the church in this fine book.

Andrew Root, Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary and author of The Church after Innovation: Questioning Our Obsession with Work, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship

"Youth Ministry is practical theology!" Jason Lief and Kurt Rietema invite us to be facilitators of young people's desires to tackle "adult-sized problems" and bring about change. To Mend the World calls us to a better way of doing ministry with youth.

Dietrich "Deech" Kirk, executive director of the Center for Youth Ministry Training

With a mix of theological reflection, cultural analysis, and storytelling, Jason Lief and Kurt Rietema weave together a compelling account for why youth ministry needs to embrace social entrepreneurship. This is not some mere call for more effective or sustainable ministry. Rather, in social entrepreneurship, the authors see an invitation for youth ministry to rediscover the personal and social transformative encounter that is the beating heart of the gospel. This bold book will challenge assumptions and spark imagination.

Mark Sampson, author of The Promise of Social Enterprise: A Theological Exploration of Faithful Economic Practice

To Mend the World is a collection of principles and experiences reminding us that the original purpose of youth ministry is not to invest in innovating superficial ways of doing church. Instead, it is to create spaces for transformational growth, where young people can develop as changemakers. Their visionary and daring wisdom can lead us out into a broken and uncertain reality, among real people making a lasting difference--something we as a church desperately need.

Simón Menéndez, lead of Spiritual Changemakers Initiative for the Spanish-speaking world and director of Changemaker Education and Youth, at Ashoka Spain (Madrid)

To Mend the World sets forth a necessary vision not just for youth ministry but for the church! Rich in its theological framework and cultural relevance, Kurt Rietema and Jason Lief reorient our dreams for a younger generation by inviting us to cultivate a much-needed yet missing space: where young people dream, are culturally informed, and act on those dreams to make their communities a better place. In so doing, they demonstrate their faith in Christ's restorative gospel by actively joining him in his ongoing redemptive work in the world.

Michelle Ferrigno Warren, author of Join the Resistance: Step into the Good Work of Kingdom Justice