The bottom line: Zeal masquerades as fact in this guidebook for youth ministry in the urban context.
The aim of Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry can be found in the Preface: “to provide a theoretical and methodological framework for understanding youth ministry in the urban context.”
The book does accomplish to provide a framework. The question then becomes on what basis is that framework developed, and it turns out to be the author’s self-promoted opinion.
Arzola recognizes that in order to develop a proper urban youth ministry, the solution must come from urban youth ministry and not from outside sources. He proposes a prophetic model that incorporates elements of other models—traditional, liberal and activist—but that also cultivates young people who are spiritually mature, emotionally established and are receptive to communal needs. As a result urban ministry becomes a holistic and transformational catalyst in the lives of those involved. Part one describes the different prophetic models involved in youth ministry, and part two details interdisciplinary dimensions and goes into the theological, psychological, biological, and sociological perspectives of youth ministry. Part three deals with urban youth workers.
An example of enthusiasm without fact can be found on page 25: “Prophetic youth ministry is the most effective and holistic paradigm for ministering to urban youth.” Several of such grand assertions appear throughout the text with little or nothing to back them up. Arzola’s book also suffers from a cardinal flaw that all proponents of niche ministry always endure: in catering to the specific needs of a cohort made peripheral to the mainstream, there is inevitably separation in distinction without a clear path for re-integration.
I read Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry as required by a graduate level seminary course. I expect that anyone ministering to urban youth or developing an urban youth ministry program would derive some value from this book, but I personally would not recommend it.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal