Almost Christian

AlmostChristian_1.jpgAm going to attempt to review Almost Christian by Kenda Creasy Dean, partly because I promised the publisher but much more because it is an important book.
Kenda helpfully opens the book by laying out the gist of it for the reader, she says,
“American young people are, theoretically, fine with religious faith–but it does not concern them very much, and it is not durable enough to survive long after they graduate from high school. One more thing: we’re responsible.”
In the book Kenda is working from the NSYR survey of 2003-2005 that coined the phrase, “therapeutic moralistic deism” to summarise the prevalent ‘faith’ of American young people, as well as uncovering that this was often a reflection of the faith of their parents.
In “Almost Christian” she reflects further on this neutered version* of Christianity that she calls the ‘cult of nice’ and then explores it via the metaphor of a symbiote that has taken resident in the host church co-opting, devouring and replacing the historical and living christian faith with itself, i.e therapeutic moralistic deism. In this she makes the point that the faith of the young people reflects that of the parents BUT this in turn is a reflection of the faith of the church,
It would be easy for us in the UK to dismiss both the survey and the subsequent reflection as belonging firmly in the States. I believe however it has a massive amount to say to the UK context and this is borne out by the Mayos recent work where the indifference to faith mirrors the ‘Benign Whateverism’ discovered in the American study, and the ‘Happy Midi Narrative’ that Mayo coined is echoed in the values and priorities of the American teenagers.
The chief importance of ‘Almost Christian‘ though is that the vast majority of the book is geared towards exploring a missional and discipleship response that will engage and ground young people in a living and transformational faith. The response is both deeply reflective and accessibly practical … and well well worth reading.
I found the ‘Missional Imagination’ chapter particularly useful and will be using this chart that brings the ‘missionary principles’ of indigenizing’ and ‘pilgrim’ together.
table 5.1.jpg
I also want to use this framework on ‘translating faith’ with/for young people:
1. The best translators are people not programmes
2. The best translators are bilingual
3. The best translators invoke imagination
4. Translators can threaten the people in charge.
I recommend this book as an important read for exploring ecclesiology and mission in relation to young people and beyond.

* ‘neutered version’ is actually a quote from ‘Practising Passion’ not ‘Almost Christian’

5 Replies to “Almost Christian”

  1. liking the overview of this book, i’m getting a kindle for my birthday soon, so hope it’s available on the text to speech on that.
    couple of reflections:
    Liking all the stuff on translators, and think this is really useful stuff.
    would like to know what’s in the diagram though, daisy had a fit when i tried to examine this.
    also true in the uk, young people who have a faith up until uni, %70 will lose it at uni, so what on earth are we giving them to hold o too?
    I have become more and more passionate about the discipleship of youth workers, and young people, and think that there needs to be a radical shift in the approaches used.
    Programmes are pointless if the wrong people are involved, further to this, programmes do not give space for people to engage, wrestle, and work stuff out for themselves.
    We need to have a complete rethink about discipleship for youth workers as well, as a number i connect with, are syaing that they don’t have anything out of their own experience to enable them to disciple young people, so we are re-exploring all of this.
    I offer a brief, and it is brief, overview/thought on discipleship on my blog viewpoint at
    this cannot be something we realise and then let go of, it is to important and so we need to realise it, get a hold on it, and ensure that God guides us missionally and discipleship, or else we will just face the usual porblems in the years and generations to come.

  2. Hey sunglasses,
    Good to hear from you and to get your reflections.
    Sorry about the chart, it’s a JPEG which will definitely be a problem for your reader. I will attempt to type it and send so you can explore it

  3. bless you mr youth blog, you’re a genrous and kind and humble man, sorry for the vent and rant on your blog, promise to have more restraint in future, forgive me sir youthblog?

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