Carmichael Crutchfield and Denise Janssen have written a critical analysis of the significance of topics like self-identity, worship, pedagogy, music, and listening among African American youth, and they provide a dynamic guide for applying practical tools to foster a faith development that goes beyond memorizing Scripture for rewards. The authors utilize responses from adolescent focus groups to advocate for healthy internal and external faith formation. This book is a must-read for anyone wanting to better understand and assist in maturing the faith of African American youth.
“Pressing Forward: Faith Culture and African American Youth by Carmichael Crutchfield and Denise Janssen is a valuable, engaging resource that draws on the authors’ and others’ personal stories and historical materials. The authors invite church leaders into reflections on multilayered views of faith formation of black adolescents. In so doing, it both informs and summons leaders’ personal reflection and action. Contrasts between the historical past and present-day realities highlight today’s unique broader socio-cultural realities and specific black ethnic-racial issues, the ethos of church worship, teaching methods, and family life as critical factors. These unique and interconnected facets must inform ways toward positive black adolescent faith and human development. Helpful faith and discipleship formation-directed pedagogical tools are included that assist churches in acknowledging adolescents’ needs, listening to them, enlisting their active participation, seeing, and entering their neighborhoods, and strengthening the church as an extended family and social resource. This valuable volume makes clear that the way forward, in fact, demands churches’ attention to all these aspects with an embrace of hope, respect, radical acceptance of black youth for who they are, and willingness to engage the unfamiliar. Each chapter ends with either a question or suggested action.”—Anne E. Streaty Wimberly, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, Youth Hope-Builders Academy and Connecting With Hope Innovation Hub Young Adult Ministry Initiative, Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Georgia
“Pressing Forward is a much-needed resource to guide an intentional shift in how younger generations engaged within the church, specifically the African American Church. The text provides historical context, research data, personal experiences, and practical suggestions to challenge the formation ministries that engage youth. The younger generation should be heard and in the ministry that promotes impactful faith formation experiences throughout life. This resource should be placed in the hands of anyone working with the younger generation on any level. We must learn from the past, but we must also “serve this age and its diverse demographic.”—Mary A. Love, Adjunct Professor, Christian Education, Hood Theological Seminary
Carmichael D. Crutchfield is an ordained Elder in full connection of the CME Church and Professor of Christian Education, Spiritual Formation and Youth Ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary.