Review: Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults

Richard R. Dunn and Jana L. Sundene, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults

I was given a copy of this book for review by the lovely Phil over at UKCBD.  Why not click here to check out his site?

I could hardly wait to get this book on review, perhaps because I had been able to read parts of the first chapter online.  It seemed like it might speak to my own disciple-making context amongst those in their 20s and 30s in the U.K.  In summary, all I can say is that I was not disappointed!

Written from the U.S. context, Shaping the Journey of Emerging Adults is a reflection by Rick Dunn and Jana Sundene on what it takes to make disciples in a generation quite unlike any other which has gone before it.  Dunn and Sundene are seasoned practitioners and this book makes a hefty contribution to thinking about the nuts and bolts of disciple-making amongst this age group.  Yet these authors are more than this: one is associate professor of Christian ministries at Trinity College, Trinity International University; the other is a lead pastor educated to doctoral level.  Thus, what they have to say is soaked in academic rigour, whilst all the time remaining rooted in practice.

The first chapter alone, which traces the landscape and challenges of emerging adulthood for this new generation, was worth the price of the book.  There is perhaps not a great divide between the U.S. and U.K. experiences here.  I certainly felt that the writing gives voice to my own growing experience in the U.K., namely that this Facebook generation’s specific needs and characteristics have made abundantly clear something which has probably always been true: disciple-making cannot be just about a pre-determined curriculum but must be inherently relational and responsive to the leadings of the Spirit.

Yet it is more than just a good survey of the characteristics of the emerging generation which makes this book stand out.  The description of rhythms of disciple-making (discernment, intentionality and reflection) are helpful as a framework for those who want to explore investing in disciple-making relationships but don’t know how.  The lengthy discussions of how to apply these rhythms to some very specific and oh-so-common(!) challenges of emerging adulthood were also useful, especially in their fusion of theory and case study examples.

I could go on but suffice to say that if you are committed to making disciples, you will find much of this material beneficial – especially if you are not part of this emerging generation yourself.  In fact I had already recommended this book to a friend looking for books on ministry to those in this age group, even before I had finished it; at the same time, another is already queuing to read my copy.  In short, buy it and prepare to enjoy!


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