Resources for Worship and Faith Formation

Worship That Changes Lives

Alexis Abernethy
(Baker Academic, 2008)
A collection of wide-ranging essays on the theology of worship and the arts, including essays about drama, visual arts, film, jazz music, worship in Africa, the emergent church, and more. Each essay probes how exactly worship transforms, disciples, and shapes worshipers as apprentices of Jesus.

Including People with Disabilities in Faith Communities

Erik Carter
(Paul H. Brooks Publishing, 2007)
This book goes beyond how church architecture can avoid physical barriers. It also explores approaches to breaking down the attitudinal barriers toward full participation—and even leadership—of persons with disabilities in congregational life. Engaging in this process can be a powerfully formative experience for a congregation.

Book, Bath, Table and Time: Christian Worship as Source and Resource for Youth Ministry

Fred Edie
(Pilgrim Press, 2007)
Rarely do churches ask the worship director to also lead the youth group. But Edie argues that the fundamental actions of worship provide a rock-solid foundation for both the content and process of youth ministry. When youth ministries explore the stories, images, Bible readings, and songs of worship, not only does youth ministry become deeper and richer, worship also becomes more relevant to youth.

Choosing Church: What Makes a Difference for Teens

Carol Lytch
(Westminster John Knox, 2004)
Based on eighty-three interviews with teens and their parents, Lytch explores how important it is for churches to offer youth a tangible sense of belonging as well as opportunities for leadership in congregations (see also the article by Claudia Beversluis and Marji Gunnoe in RW 91).

Helping Our Children Grow in Faith: How the Church Can Nurture the Spiritual Development of Kids

Robert Keeley
(Baker, 2008)
Keeley, a frequent contributor to Reformed Worship, offers a helpful orientation to the developmental nature of children’s growth in faith. He describes both valuable and counterproductive practices for teaching and forming children, warning especially against the temptation to present the Christian faith as merely a set of rules and regulations and calling for approaches that engage children’s imaginations with the stories of the Bible and the wonder of worship.

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Christian Smith
(Oxford, 2005)
Already considered a classic, this book establishes the idea that teens’ faith is best characterized as “moralistic therapeutic deism.” Smith has also released a DVD entitled Soul Searching (Revelation Studios). Consider watching this with your church’s youth group and worship committee, and then discuss how worship might more pointedly resist a reductionistic view of the gospel.

Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus

Growing Souls: Experiments in Contemplative Youth Ministry

Mark Yaconelli
(Zondervan, 2006 and 2007)
At first glance, these titles seem like an oxymoron. Yet Yaconelli pushes us to rethink much of what churches do with youth ministry. Youth, like all of us, desperately need to sense the beauty of God, to express wonder at the beauty of creation and at the gospel, and to be still and rest in God’s presence. No amount of pizza and pop can ever substitute for these profound experiences and capacities.

Real Kids, Real Faith: Practices for Nurturing Children’s Spiritual Lives

Karen Marie Yust
(Jossey Bass, 2004)
This book challenges readers to take children’s spiritual lives very seriously, to celebrate the formative power of stories (both Bible stories and testimonies of God’s work in the world), and to nurture the capacity in children for quiet wonder and reflection. Yust has also developed a much more extensive set of resources on this topic entitled “Transforming Practices: Emerging Literature on Children, Youth, and Christian Formation” on the website “Resources for American Christianity,” (

Reformed Worship 92 © June 2009, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.