‘Owning Faith’ tackles issues of teen spirituality

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Dudley Chancey and Ron Bruner

Youth may grow up in the church, going to Sunday school or mid-week youth groups, but getting teenagers to keep growing their faith beyond adolescence is a challenge youth ministers continually face.

Addressing the challenge, five alumni and two professors contributed to Owning Faith: Reimagining the Role of Church and Family in the Faith of Teenagers.

The book, published by Leafwood Publishers, a division of Abilene Christian University Press, invites parents and adults to learn how to build fruitful relationships with teenagers seeking their own faith.

Edited by Dr. Ron Bruner (D.Min. ’10) and Dr. Dudley Chancey (M.A. ’93), Owning Faith was released Jan. 10 and can be purchased online.

“The book is a primer for parents and caring adults who want to help young people in the spiritual aspect of their lives, but really don’t know how to go about doing it,” said Bruner, who serves as executive director for Westview Boys’ Home in Hollis, Okla.

Bruner and co-editor Chancey, associate professor of youth and family ministry at Oklahoma Christian University, have experienced similar challenges in working with youth.

“For years we as youth ministers have tried to play the spiritual role of the parent, but it doesn’t work,” Chancey said. “Kids aren’t staying in church after they leave high school, so we wanted to give roles back to the parents and equip them on how to spiritually form their kids.”

In selecting contributors to the book, Bruner and Chancey chose people with backgrounds in youth ministry whose unique experiences and expertise would bring wisdom and difficult subject matters to light.

ACU contributors include Robert Oglesby, director of the ACU Center for Youth and Family Ministry; Dr. Houston Heflin, (M.A. ’97), assistant professor of ministry; and alumni Ryan Fraser (M.Div. ’02), Monty McCulley (’98) and Cari Myers (M.A. ’97). Other contributors were Brad Childers, David Fraze, Earl Lavender, Johnny Markham, Dave Pocta, Beth Robinson, Walter Surdacki and Scott Talley.

“The book is a wonderful resource for the church and parents because it’s written in a manner accessible to anyone sitting in a pew,” Bruner said. “You don’t have to be a theologian or have a Ph.D. in counseling to understand it.”

Owning Faith was featured at the 2017 National Youth Minister’s Conference and received positive feedback.

“We’ve already had quite a number of church and youth ministers who have said they plan to incorporate it into their work,” Bruner said. “Youth ministers can use it to better reach their kids, but more importantly to teach parents how to take part in their children’s spiritual lives.”

About the authors:
Ron Bruner has served as the executive director of Westview Boys’ Home in Hollis, Okla., since 1999. Because of his interest in practical theology – especially in the fields of intergenerational, children’s and youth ministry – Ron edits the eJournal Discernment: Theology and the Practice of Ministry.

Dudley Chancey has served as professor of youth ministry at Oklahoma Christian University since 1998. He is involved in several professional organizations, including the National Council on Family Relations, Groves Conference on Marriage and Family, Association of Youth Ministry Educators, and the National Conference on Youth Ministries.

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