God’s Mission – Worksheet

The following is a short worksheet/Bible study on God’s mission and our role in it that I’m using with the Young Life student staff in LA.

God’s Mission: Genesis to Revelation

I’ve heard them described as the “navy seals” of Christians. They’re sometimes talked about as an “elite” bunch, while everyone else sort of just goes about their day living their regular life.  At least, that’s how people often think about them—if they aren’t explicitly saying those kinds of things. I’m talking about people who are on mission or, more commonly “missionaries.” They are the people who have answered a call from God to take the message of Jesus to those who haven’t heard it yet. They’re the ones who give up their way of life—family, friends, career aspirations—to cross significant cultural or geographic barriers, carrying the good news about Jesus. While we might often think about “missionaries” in that way, and our churches might often talk about them in that way, that’s not the main way that the Bible talks about mission and the ones who take part in it.

How does the Bible talk about “mission?” The first character in the Bible who is described as having a mission is actually God. God’s mission to rescue, redeem, and gather a people for himself is the primary thread that runs through Scripture. God creates for relationship. Humans fall. God goes on a “mission” to redeem the world and gather a diverse community back to himself.  So what is our role in God’s mission? Christopher Wright puts it this way:

Fundamentally, our mission (if it is biblically informed and validated) means our committed participation, as God’s people, at God’s invitation and command, in God’s own mission within the history of God’s world for the redemption of God’s creation. (Wright, Mission of God, 23)

In what follows we’ll take a look at some passages from Scripture that talk about God’s original vision for creation, God’s mission to redeem creation, and our role in His mission.

God’s Vision for Creation

  • -Genesis 1:26-28
  • -(Genesis 3)
  • -Genesis 6:1, 5
  • -Genesis 9:1
  • -Genesis 11:1-4

God is on a Mission

  • John 1:1-14
  • Philippians 2:17

“The God of the Bible is a God on mission. From Genesis to Revelation his unfolding story reveals his heart for the nations and his plan to gather lost sheep… Even now, God is gathering to himself a multitude of peoples from every nation who are enjoying his grace and extending his glory. And he calls every believer to join him in that mission.” – Robert Wells V

God’s Mission Fulfilled

The mission is God’s but God chooses to involve people in his plan. He wants to use his people—that includes us!—to be his agents of blessing to the world. If you follow the entire story of the Bible, you’ll notice that God is constantly in the business calling people to join him in what he is doing.

PassageHow Far?Who God Used
Genesis 12:1-3  
Exodus 19:5-6  
Psalm 67  
Isaiah 49:5-6  
Matthew 28:18-20  
Acts 1:8  
Acts 8:1  
2 Cor 5:18-20  
Revelation 7:9-10

Brad Brisco mentions that if it is ultimately God’s mission, and not ours, then we must first discover how God is at work in our communities (neighborhoods, schools, sports teams, etc.). That means we have to learn to listen. Listen to what the Spirit is up to and listen to the people in our community. Once we do that, we need to ask ourselves—in conversation with God—how can we participate in what God is already doing?

Questions for Reflection

1)Where do I see God at work?

2)Where and how is God working in the lives of those around me?

3)How might God want me to be involved in what he is doing in my community?

Favorite Book of 2021 + Books I Read

This year I was focused on a project that led me to reflect upon the intersection of Christology, the doctrine of creation, and theological anthropology so you can imagine how excited I was to find a book titled: Christ the Heart of Creation. [If you follow the London Lyceum, you already know that this was my favorite book of the year.] I try to read most of what Rowan Williams writes because his writings stretch my theological imagination all while digging my roots deeper in the “great tradition.” This book, which was actually published in 2018 lived up to my expectations. There Williams argues that the relation between the Word and the created nature of Christ described in the Chalcedonian formula—while being unique—is a model for understanding God’s relation to creation. This is a “non-competitive” relation because God is “not another thing” in the world. Weaving his way through the New Testament, Maximus, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, and Bonhoeffer, among others, he concludes that Christ not only is the heart of the doctrine of creation, but that Christ is the heart of creation itself. 

Now on to the books I read this year… For the first 6 months of the year I kept track of the books I read each month. Then I stopped writing them down *sigh* so the list for July to December isn’t in the order I read them.

Total Books Read in 2021: 54

Books Read in 2021


  1. Restless Faith: Holding Evangelical Beliefs in a World of Contested Labels – Richard Mouw
  2. Reading While Black – Esau MacCaulley


  1. Andrew Fuller’s Theology of Revival – Ryan Rindels
  2. Creation – David Fergusson
  3. Christ the Heart of Creation – Rowan Williams
  4. Christ and Creation – Colin Gunton
  5. Brown Church – Robert Chao Romero
  6. Youth Ministry in the 21st Century: 5 Views – Chap Clark


  1. God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World and Why Their Differences Matter – Stephen Porthero
  2. Being Disciples: Essentials of the Christian Life – Rowan Williams
  3. Tokens of Trust – Rowan Williams
  4. In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls us to Reflect his Character – Jen Wilkin
  5. Beyond Colorblind: Redeeming our Ethnic Journey – Sarah Shin


  1. Natural Rivals: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Creation of America’s Public Lands – John Clayton
  2. A Spirituality of Fundraising – Henry Nouwen
  3. Meister Eckhart’s Sermons – Meister Eckhart
  4. Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship – Andrew Wilson


  1. Quiet Talks on Prayer – Samuel Gordon
  2. Viewpoints – Steve Shadrach
  3. Being Human – Rowan Williams
  4. Trinitarian Grace and Participation: An Entry into the Theology of T. F. Torrance – Geordie Zeigler


  1. Gospel Driven Church – Jared Wilson
  2. With: Reimagining the Way you Relate to God – Skye Jethani
  3. Relational Spirituality: A Psychological Paradigm for Transformation – Todd Hall and M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall
  4. Where Prayer Becomes Real – Kyle Strobel and John Coe

July to December (in no particular order)

  1. T.F. Torrance as Missional Theologian: The Ascended Christ and the Ministry of the Church – Joseph Sherrard
  2. Better than the Beginning – Richard Barcellos
  3. Worshipping with the Reformers – Karin Maag
  4. Milk for Little Ones: An Introduction to the Baptist Catechism
  5. Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion – Lamar Hardwick
  6. Person, Personhood and the Humanity of Christ: Christocentric Anthropology and Ethics in T.F. Torrance – Hakbong Kim
  7. Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity – Kathryn Tanner
  8. Science and the Doctrine of Creation: The Approaches of Ten Modern Theologians – Geoffrey Fulkerson and Joel Chopp
  9. Redemptive Kingdom Diversity – Jarvis Williams
  10. Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World – Timothy Keller
  11. Write No Matter What: Advice for Academics – Joli Jensen
  12. Divine Ideas – Thomas Ward
  13. Streams of Latin American Protestant Theology – Ryan Gladwin
  14. Why Science and Faith Need Eachother – Elaine Howard Ecklund
  15. Science and the Christian Faith – Christopher Knight
  16. Sacred Rhythms – Ruth Haley Barton
  17. How to Talk about Jesus – Sam Chan
  18. Thriving With Stone Age Minds – Justin Barrett and Pamela King
  19. An Analysis of Herman Witsius’s The Economy of the Covenants – Patrick Ramsey and Joel Beeke
  20. The Book of Pastoral Rule – St. Gregory the Great
  21. An Exposition of the Apostles Creed – Caspar Olevianus
  22. The Art of Prophesying – William Perkins
  23. The Same God who Works All Things – Adonis Vidu
  24. Reformed Theology – R. Michael Allen
  25. Reformed Theology – Martha Moore-Kiesh
  26. Dogmatic Theology – Vladimir Lossky
  27. Faithful Theology – Graham Cole
  28. A Reformed Baptist Manifesto: The New Covenant Constitution of the Church – Samuel Waldron and Richard Barcellos
  29. Water to the Angels: William Mullholand, His Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles – Les Sandiford

Thank You For Your Support This Year!

Los Angeles Young Life Staff and Spouses

A Year of Firsts…

As you know, this was my first year coming on to Young Life staff. Because of that it really was a year full of ‘first times.” It was my first time leading our Student Staff and Staff Associate cohorts, first time training our regional staff, first time leading workshops for our regional volunteers, and first time speaking at a college weekend camp.

Thanks to your prayers and support I’ve been able to invest into leaders across LA: leaders who are just getting started and leaders who are seasoned veterans. I’ve seen leaders who were wrestling with their calling to gospel ministry step into their roles with greater confidence because of our training cohorts. I’ve gotten to walk alongside staff who’ve started ministries in new schools; all the way from the Antelope Valley to the Chino Valley to the San Fernando Valley. I’ve been able to speak into our younger Student Staff as they lead clubs on school campuses – often for the very first time – in Whittier and Long Beach. And in all these places, kids are hearing the gospel and their lives are being transformed.

Training our newest staff person: “Zee” Warren. Born and raised in South Central, he just moved back to LA to start Young Life in South LA (e.g. Inglewood, Compton, Carson). 

One of my highlights this year was speaking at our SoCal College Weekend. 300+ students from CSUN, SDSU, UCLA, CSULB, Pepperdine, Chapman, Cal State San Marcos, Point Loma, and other colleges from across Southland got to hear about how Jesus meets their longings for identity, purpose, satisfaction, and transformation. For many of these students it was the first time hearing the gospel clearly explained and for others it was an opportunity to examine places in their life where they’ve been following their idols instead of Jesus.Thank you so much for your support in 2021!

The West Valley

Even though I have the privilege of training staff across Los Angeles, I get to work especially closely with staff from the Antelope Valley, Santa Monica, Chino, Upland, Whittier, and the West Valley. I hope to highlight some of the ways these staff are being Christ’s presence in their communities. This time I want to highlight what’s going on in the West Valley [full disclosure, this is the area I volunteer in and my wife is on staff in]. In this video you’ll get to hear students describe, in their own words, how growing closer to God has impacted their life. You can give to Young Life West Valley here.

May you be blessed and be a blessing in 2022.

3 Tips for Engaging Latino/a Students

In a short, but helpful, article, Roslyn Hernández writes about the diverse, complicated, sometimes painful, but also rich history that people of Spanish speaking descent bring to the table. Our city consists of a 48% Latino population. Not every area (or even the region as a whole) is going to reflect this percentage in their demographics but still, if you are doing Young Life in our region, you will be doing ministry among Latino/a students.

Roslyn writes about three things we can do to engage Latino/a students, grow in our understanding of their ethnic identity, and help them with their sense of belonging. Here are some takeaways from that article.


She encourages us to be curious about cultures, traditions, and histories. Some students will feel comfortable sharing these things. Some will even be excited to share these things with you. That’s not always the case though. She encourages us to develop relationships with parents because this allows us to take relationships to a deeper level. I think of how many Quinces my family has been invited to because of how Amelia is pro-active with her engagement of parents. Roslyn also recommends that we become familiar with socio-political issues affecting the lives of our students. As she explains, you don’t need to become a foreign policy expert, but knowing a bit about these kinds of things goes a long way because many of these issues tangibly affect our students and their families.


Acknowledging the unique contributions that your students’ ethnic and cultural backgrounds bring to your club speaks volumes of how you value them as individuals. What events or holidays do your students celebrate? Here’s a practical question: How can you incorporate these holidays or events into club? Into social media? How about having a fundraiser in December selling homemade tamales or champurrado? You can connect with your student’s traditions in various ways, this shows that you see them and value their heritage.

Roslyn also talks about making space for lament. This doesn’t need to be – but can be – in a large group (i.e. club) setting. This can be more of a one-on-one thing. But to enter into that space of lament you’ll need to build relationships with them to the point where they feel safe enough to share what they are lamenting about.


She makes several suggestions about “recovering” but one that stuck out to me—because it is so in line with our values in Young Life—is the idea of creating spaces where students can just rest. She points to a phenomenon that many Latino/a kids experience: guilt associated with rest. There can be a huge expectation placed upon the shoulders of some of our students that if they aren’t actively doing something for the wellbeing of the family then they should feel guilty. I don’t want to take away from the practical realities of this, some of our students need to work to help the family, some of our students will need to function as a parent towards their little siblings because of the long hours their parents spend at work. Because of that, creating an environment where kids can be kids, where they aren’t expected to perform, or to be responsible for something, can be such a life-giving thing, even if its just for 2 hours on club nights.

If you want to read the whole article you can find it here:https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/engaging-students-ethnic-and-cultural-background?mc_cid=6560dc74da&mc_eid=968c716b61

TheoPsych Academy

In our TheoPsych project, we provided training in the psychological sciences for theologians from around the world in 3 small, private learning cohorts. We brought in psychologists, skilled in interdisciplinary dialogue, to inspire conversations around using the psych sciences as a tool for developing theology.

But now, we’re excited to share that the material from the seminars we hosted, is now available to anyone who wants to access it. We’ve adapted material from our 3 events, into a series of courses that you can explore for free in something we’re calling TheoPsych Academy.

These courses include short lectures from psychology experts working in many subfields including: Robert Emmons, Justin Barrett, Pamela Ebstyne King, Mari Clements, Peter Hill, Lindsey Root Luna, Brad Strawn, Joey Fung, William Newsome, and more! In addition to this group of psychologists, there are also conversations with theologians from the project, discussing how they’re using psychology in their work.


If you decide to work through a course with a group, there are opportunities for great interactions as the courses are highly customizable, including options for discussion questions, quizzes, and “dig deeper” supplemental sections to help you take the material in different directions.

Those who enroll within our launch year will have access to private online events, for live interaction with psychology experts, to get their burning questions answered. It’s our hope that theologians, ministry leaders, and those just curious about how psychological science might interact with our understanding of God and the world will benefit from these courses! Enjoy!

Above content comes from the TheoPsych team at Blueprint 1543.

“Disability and the Church” – A Few Takeaways

I just got done reading a new book by Lamar Hardwick about – as the title obviously implies – disability and the church. While the focus is definitely on church I think there is some important overlap for Young Life as a whole and not just Capernaum. I recommend the book but I know many of you are busy getting ready for the school year, have your own training readings to worry about, etc. so I wanted to distill some of the key ideas for you.

The Author

Lamar is pastor of Tri-Cities Church in Georgia. Sometimes known as the Autism Pastor, Lamar has a heart for issues od diversity, and specifically the question “Who’s missing?” This is partly born out of his experience as an African American in leadership but also as someone who was diagnosed with Autism as an adult.

The diversity discussion begins by asking questions about who’s missing from our communities, our classrooms, our boardrooms, and most importantly our churches. Next we need to ask, where are they? (29)

His concern for those who are missing grows out of an understanding of Jesus’s mission:

For the shepherd, a flock is not a complete community without the unique contribution and presence of each individually important sheep. Each has a value so great that God is willing to risk it all to recover it. The message of the cross and the mission of Jesus is one that communicates that everyone is important and significant in the eyes of God. (28)

Photo by Askar Abayev on Pexels.com

The Banquet

Lamar works through Jesus’s story of a man holding a banquet, telling his servant to “invite the poor, the crippled the blind, the lame.” And even after these people come “there is still room for more.” (Luke 14:21-22). Often times we think about this story in terms of Jesus heart for the furthest out kids. That’s absolutely right! But as someone with a disability Lamar can’t help but also hear Jesus’s heart for inclusion of those who society has excluded because of physical or mental disabilities. But it’s not just about “society” its also about how Christian communities have excluded our disabled friends. Often times this isn’t intentional, it’s more the fact that ministry to the disability community is more of an afterthought. Thankfully through opportunities like Capernaum we try to be faithful to intentionally engage those that society-and churches-often unintentionally forget.

Value who God values and be fully invested in the community God is creating. Disability ministry will cost you something but not doing it may very well cost you everything. (48)

The pandemic pushed churches to create accommodations that made it possible for people to participate. Imagine having the same sense of urgency and placing the same value on a large segment of our communities that have been largely unable to participate in our weekly gatherings prior to COVID-19 pandemic. (48)

There is an enormous difference between being invited and being included. (51)

4 Characteristics of Ministries that Are Moving in the Right Direction

  1. People over programs.
  2. Diversity is celebrated and not merely tolerated.
  3. Structures that prioritize interpersonal relationships
  4. Leaders who are personally invested.

It might be worth the time to examine whether your ministry reflects these characteristics and what it could do to improve upon them if you aren’t already moving in these directions.

Some Stats on Disability

  1. About 56.7 mission people—19% of the population—had a disability in 2010.
  2. Estimates are that 80 to 85 percent of churches don’t have any level of special-needs ministry.
  3. Only 5 to 10 percent of the world’s disabled are effectively reached with the gospel, making disability community one of the largest unreached—some say underreached—or hidden groups in the world.
  4. More than 90 percent of churchgoing special-needs parents cited the most helpful support to be a “welcoming attitude toward people with disabilities.” Meanwhile, only 80% of those parents said that welcoming attituded was present at their church. (103)

The fact that the disability community is one of the most under-reached populations breaks my heart but at the same time I’m so encouraged that Young Life has made it a priority through Capernaum.

Parents of Capernaum kids are a part of our ministry too. While your focus isn’t necessarily on parents, know that you are providing real, tangible, care for these parents through your ministry to your Capernaum friends. You are being a tangible expression of God’s love to these parents too and not just to your Capernaum friends!

Building a Leadership Culture

Something that has been on my mind for some time now is the role that our Capernaum friends can play in leadership.

Creating a more disability-inclusive [ministry] will require creating a path for disabled persons to have real leadership. Without their voice, the church will always struggle to fill the void left by the lack of disabled people in our faith communities. (145)

Raising disabled persons to leadership isn’t tokenism. Disabled persons bring a unique vision and skill set to our ministries that we would miss out apart from their involvement in leadership. It’s worth thinking about how to raise up Capernaum students to leadership positions. This would probably start with removing barriers to leadership.

One barrier is a lack of understanding of the inclusive nature of God’s people. The Bible has plenty of examples of the place of disabled persons in Jesus’s ministry. If you want to take a look at some of these passages see: Matt 25:36, Luke 4:18-19, Luke 10:25-37, Luke 13:10-17, Luke 14:1-24, John 9:2-7.

At times raising Capernaum students to leadership will require some accommodation. In the calling of Moses (Exodus 4), Moses says that he is slow of speech and slow of tongue. But instead of ruling him out because of that, God accommodates for him. God gives him assistance: Aaron would speak for him. What kinds of accommodations might you need to make for our disabled friends to help them flourish in leadership?

I remember a training I was leading for our area walking through some principles of biblical interpretation. One of our Capernaum student leaders was visibly frustrated and she was having a hard time tracking with the content. After talking to her about it we discovered that an accommodation that would help her grow in her leadership was to provide the content in written form ahead of time so she could review it before the meeting. Does that add extra stress as we are preparing an all-area meeting since now I can’t go off the cuff with the training? Yes. But is making an accommodation like that worth it to make sure that our friend could flourish in her God-given call to leadership? Absolutely. To be honest though, that is a pretty easy accommodation. Other accommodations might be significantly weightier… But again, as Lamar said, “Disability ministry will cost you something but not doing it may very well cost you everything.”

At other times we might have to carefully think about what makes a “good” leader. I’m sure all of us have an picture of what an “ideal” leader looks like. But does your picture of an ideal leader exclude the possibility of someone with disabilities from fitting that mold? For example, will someone with autism who is sensitive to sensory overstimulation not be an “ideal” leader because she’ll have to step out of the room for several of the games at club? Will someone who suffers from social anxiety not fit the mold of an “ideal” leader because contact work will look a lot different for him than for the traditional Young Life leaders?

Society makes it incredibly difficult for people with social skill deficits, cognitive impairment, or other limitations to be included because they fail to fit the dominant narrative of the good life. (90)

I would challenge you – and I need to challenge myself too – to think about how to raise up qualified, called-into-leadership, persons with disabilities into leadership in our areas. Without a doubt their unique vision and skill sets will enrich our ministries. I’ll leave you with a quote from Bonhoeffer’s classic, Life Together, to reflect upon:

Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need to strong but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of fellowship. (Life Together, 90)

Not only is the elimination of the “weak” the death of fellowship, its also the death of ministry that reflects Jesus’s methods and values.

Lamar Hardwick, Disability and the Church: A Vision for Diversity and Inclusion (Downers Grove: IVP, 2021)

Prayer for the Spread of the Gospel 7/17

Almighty God, who by thy son Jesus Christ didst give commandment to the apostles, that they should go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: Grant to us, whom thou hast called into thy church, a ready will to obey the word, and fill us with a hearty desire to make thy way known upon the earth, thy saving health among the nations. Look with compassion upon the peoples that have not known thee, and upon the multitudes that are scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd, and gather them into thy fold, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP)

Tyndale Fellowship Early Career Philosopher of Religion Prize

Inter-Varsity Press and the Tyndale Fellowship’s Study Group for Philosophy of Religion are pleased to announce this year’s ‘Early-Career Philosopher of Religion’ competition.

This year’s essay question:
What does it mean that God is good?

Prizes: Book prizes are to be awarded to the value of:
1st Prize: £100
2nd Prize: £50
Books must be purchased from IVP books.

The winner is also to be named ‘IVP Early-Career Philosopher of Religion 2021’, and offered a slot to present at the 2022 Tyndale Conference.

Submissions are welcome from those that are either within three years of their first, permanent academic position (on the closing date) or have never held such. Previous winners are requested not to re-enter. Submissions must be between 2,000 & 4,000 words, and will be assessed by a small committee on professional Philosophy benchmarks, including:

  • Display of a questioning intelligence
  • Ability to engage critically with ideas
  • Clarity in making relevant distinctions
  • Ability to construct reasoned arguments
  • Ability to evaluate arguments critically
  • Knowledge of the history of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Religion

There is no requirement that the essay defend any particular theological or philosophical view. Essays must be written in English, and submitted electronically as either a Word Document or a PDF to:

Daniel Hill (djhill1972@gmail.com) by midnight on Friday September 10th 2021.

We hope to announce the winners within one month of the closing date.
Dr Daniel Hill (Chair, Tyndale Fellowship’s Study Group in Philosophy of Religion)
Dr Yang Guo (Co-Chair, Tyndale Fellowship’s Study Group)

Relational Spirituality – Book Review

In Young Life we value relationships…. a lot. Relationships are a key aspect of our methodology. We go where kids are at and build personal relationships with them. We earn the right to share the good news of Jesus. We personally invite kids to respond to the gospel and walk in friendship with them regardless of their response. We prepare them for a lifelong relationship with Christ and his church. Young Life, at its core, is a relational ministry.

Besides Young Life I’m also engaged in academic theology. One of the most interesting trends in academic theology that I’ve been a part of the last few years is a thing called TheoPsych. As the name implies, it’s the convergence of theology and psychology.

I recently saw that IVP published a book titled, Relational Spirituality: A Psychological-Theological Paradigm for Transformation [Todd Hall with M. Elizabeth Hall]. My interest was piqued since two of my interests (relational ministry and TheoPsych) converged. In this book, the authors argue that

Human beings are fundamentally relational… we develop, heal, and grow to become more loving and Christlike through relationships. (3)

Because of this fact of human nature, any account of spirituality and transformation will need to take into account relationality. In the process of developing an account of relational spiritual transformation the authors begin by making a theological case for the relationality inherent in human nature. They tie human relationality to a relational account of the image of God. This is based on their relational trinitarian theology—I’ll get back to this later…

In addition to the theological case for human relationality, the authors draw heavily upon psychological studies on topics like infant development, attachment theory, and neuroscience to argue that humans are wired to be relational.

Hall and Hall weave their way through relational epistemology and address attachment relationships, arguing that human relational attachment theories are important for understanding how we relate to God. Anyone has pastoral experience knows this to be true. Our relationships with emotionally significant people become filters for how we feel about ourselves, God, and others. (172) Study after study shows that there is a link between people’s experiences of attachment figures and their experiences of God. (126).

The authors argue that the relational goal of spiritual development is loving presence. But what does loving presence look like? Drawing upon Aquinas’s theory of love, they argue that love consists of goodwill and connection. So how should someone enter into the process or relational spiritual transformation? It should be no surprise that the authors argue that community plays a huge role. Additionally, the use of story, suffering, and spiritual practices contribute towards spiritual growth.

This book contains numerous psychological studies which are used to back theological points made by the authors. Whether it’s talking about how humans are wired to be relational or how stillness is crucial for self-reflection/evaluation, you are bound to find an interesting psychological study in this book. If you are in ministry and are hoping to “bring down” some of this content to people you are training or you hope to incorporate some insights into your preaching and teaching you won’t be disappointed. Psychological studies really lend themselves towards being used as teaching illustrations! Plus, they blow people’s minds when you share some obscure scientific study, e. g. the one about infants crawling over “visual cliffs” or the one about Italian monkeys and Mirror Neurons. 

If you are approaching the text from an academic perspective—perhaps someone who is getting their feet wet with TheoPsych—you’ll see one clear example of what new insights concerning human nature may be discovered when theology and psychological science are brought together. Ideally reading this book will lead you to pursue other TheoPsych adjacent topics. For example, one project—the one I’m working on at the moment—concerns human flourishing. I hope address a puzzle like the following one:

If acting as “priests of creation” is—at least in part—humanity’s vocation, should we expect that those who are actively living out this vocation to report high levels of psychological well-being? If so is there a particular account of psychological well-being that would best fit the vocation of “priests of creation?” Would positive results strengthen the argument for this vision of vocation?

I can see parts of this book, especially the arguments regarding how crucial relationality is for human flourishing to make their way into my own project.

TheoPsych seeks to discover what insights about human nature might be discovered when theology and psychological science are brought together. Hall’s book gives us a clear example of what TheoPsych can do.

While I think this book makes an important contribution regarding the relationship between spiritual growth and psychology, and the role that relationality has in spiritual growth more specifically, I think it’s grounded upon a false premise. Now this false premise doesn’t necessarily undercut the big picture argument of the book but I think it’s a genuine weakness—one that a lot of contemporary theological anthropology tends replicate.

The problem is that the book (almost) assumes a relational account of the image of God. In other words, humans image God by being relational creatures, existing in personal relationships. This, the authors argue is grounded in Trinitarian theology. The author(s) draw heavily upon relational (or social) accounts of the Trinity, drawing upon authors like Zizioulas, Grenz, and Gunton. They echo Grenz’s call for a “relational ontology of personhood,” where personhood is not located in the individual but rather in the relationships among persons in community. (64) They express agreement with those who are suspicious of notions of persons as substances. While adopting a relational ontology or a social trinitarianism or a relational view of the image of God certainly gets them the relationality they hope to motivate, none of these things are in fact necessary for their argument. One could simply argue that part of human nature is to be relational, without arguing that relationality itself is what makes humans to be the image of God. You don’t need to mess with the Trinity or ontology to get that. Simply say that biologically human beings are wired to be relational. By saying such a thing, you get almost everything else that the authors want to get. It’s a minor point in my opinion because I could get the same results without those initial theological claims. And because of that I feel that the Halls’s thesis is just as strong, despite my misgivings about how they begin the book.

Note: IVP provided me a copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review.

New Ministry – Newish Blog

I’m excited to announce the next big step in my family’s life….

A while ago I announced that I would stepping onto Young Life staff to serve as the Trainer for the Los Angeles Young Life Region! My new role – which I’m starting today (!) – will allow me to do what I’m most passionate about: equipping Christians to be effective on mission. I’ll get the chance to work with students aspiring to go into ministry as well as with those who have years of experience doing Young Life. My purpose is to seek, develop, equip, and unleash leaders to introduce kids from all walks of life to Jesus. This ministry does so much to introduce kids – especially those who are the furthest from Jesus – to who Jesus really is. I’m excited to play a role in equipping leaders on the front lines to be a witness to Jesus as they invite kids from all over Los Angeles into the abundant life that Christ offers! I’m also immensely excited about Young Life’s vision to reach even more areas within Los Angles. We are currently in 30 areas and we are actively working on establishing a gospel presence in Simi Valley, Carson, Compton, Inglewood, Downey, La Miranda, Alhambra, West Covina, and Pomona (just to name a few). With 1600 kids in club each week, 7600 kids know by name, and a presence in 82 schools, I know that we are poised to make an impact on this city. I’m stoked to step back into vocational ministry!

Because of my shift in focus, my blog will also shift it’s focus a bit too. While I will still blog about calls for papers, conferences, academic projects I’m working on, etc., I will turn towards blogging about ministry and mission related topics a bit more. That was actually the original focus of this blog when I started it! When I started this blog I was working as the college ministry director at a church in the West San Fernando Valley. This blog let me think through some ministry/mission topics out loud. Writing was part of the way that I would process things. Now I’m turning back towards the very reason I started this blog, to present scattered thoughts about theology, ministry, mission, and culture. You’ll get to see Woznicki Think Out Loud (get it, CWoznicki Think Out Loud is the name of the blog) a bit more in the coming months.

This is where Young Life is currently doing ministry in LA and where we hope to do ministry.