The Christmas season begins in earnest today with millions of Americans taking to the aisles of stores across the country to snag the greatest deals on holiday favorites. Though this book may not be on many people’s shopping lists, I think it should be, particularly for those who are engaged in ministry of any kind.
Sharon Parks is both a developmental psychologist and a minister, and in the book Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Emerging Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith she provides some incredibly insightful analysis of what she describes as a new developmental phase corresponding to roughly the college years.
Parks follows the trend in recent developmental psychology of suggesting that many of the phases of development we go through are conditioned by our culture and the expectations it creates for various periods of life. Her argument is that the structure of our educational system has created a developmental phase which she calls “Emerging Adulthood” in which young adults exit the adolescent phase and begin constructing meaning for themselves. This is not an easy process, and it faces many hurdles and pit-falls. But understanding this process, Parks persuasively argues, is essentially to doing effective ministry among those who are engaged in it.
In addition to providing incredibly insightful analysis into the development of emerging adults, Parks does some pretty solid epistemology in this book. In particular, chapter 2 provides one of the most insightful accounts of what faith is and how it is formed that I have ever read and chapter 4 provides a strong and compelling account of epistemology from the standpoint of developmental psychology. Those two chapters alone are worth the price of the book, I think!
So I highly recommend to all my friends in ministry, especially if your ministry in any way involves college aged students, that you check out this book!