Northwestern professor co-writes book about new approach to youth ministry

Dr. Jason Lief, professor of biblical and theological studies at Northwestern College, is the co-author of a recently published book titled “To Mend the World: A New Vision for Youth Ministry.”

Lief wrote the book with Kurt Rietema, senior director of Youthfront’s YF Neighborhood, a program that provides young people with the opportunity to form friendships across social and economic divisions. Their book combines practical theology, Christian ministry and social entrepreneurship for a new approach to working with youth.

“Too often, Christian formation doesn’t address the social forces that impact how young people form identity,” Lief says. “Our book explores what Christian faith means for economic life and how young people might be empowered to use the principles of social enterprise to bring transformation.”

Social enterprise, or social entrepreneurship, uses the principles of entrepreneurship to change culture by focusing on social issues like poverty or climate change. “A Christian approach—what could be called missional entrepreneurship—challenges the destructive impulses of economic systems and uses economics to bring about the flourishing of creation,” Lief says. “The gospel addresses all of life, including economics, and we believe youth ministry can invite young people to participate in God’s transformation of this world.”

Lief and Rietema are especially suited to address the intersection of theory and practice when it comes to ministry, youth and social enterprise.

Rietema holds a master’s degree in global development and social justice from St. John’s University in New York City and lives with his family in an under-resourced neighborhood of Kansas City called Argentine.

Lief is a Northwestern College graduate who earned a master’s degree from Wheaton College and a doctorate in practical theology from Luther Seminary. In addition to teaching courses in Christian education and youth ministry at NWC, he serves as the co-pastor of the bilingual Maria Magdalena Reformed Church in Sioux Center, Iowa. Prior to becoming a college professor, he taught Bible classes and led the chapel program for a Christian high school, as well as annual retreats for high school students.

“To Mend the World: A New Vision for Youth Ministry” is available on Kindle or paperback through Amazon and via the website of the publisher, Fortress Press.