Sarah is the author of numerous youth ministry resources, including books, curriculum, devotionals and articles. She is best known for The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry (see below), for which she travels all over the country as a speaker, resident theologian, and workshop leader. She also has been a contributor for:
Generation Rising: A Future With Hope for the United Methodist Church. Abingdon Press, April 2011. Edited by Andrew Thompson. Contributed the chapter “Youth Ministry: Reclaiming the Art of Confirmation.” You can read an excerpt on the Ministry Matters blog here.
Shaped by God: Twelve Essentials for Nurturing Faith in Children, Youth, and Adults. Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2010. Edited by Robert J. Keeley. Contributed the chapter “Distinguishing Dragons: The Importance of Story in Faith Formation”–with an emphasis on reading the Bible as narrative.
Holy Things for Youth Ministry: 13 Practical Sessions. The Pilgrim Press, 2010. Edited by Brian Hardesty-Crouch. Sarah contributed a two-part session entitled “Dreaming for Change” on teaching youth the practice of Christian discernment. The book compliments Fred Edie’s excellent resource Book, Bath, Table and Time: Christian Worship as Source and Resource for Youth Ministry (Fred was Sarah’s mentor at Duke Divinity School).
Claim the Life: STORY high school Sunday school curriculum. Abingdon Youth, 2008.
Reviewer for Cokesbury’s 2010 Credo confirmation curriculum and contributing writer for Claim the Name: Retreats for Continuing the Journey (part of Cokesbury’s 2000 confirmation curriculum).
“This is not a book that will simply inform you. Sarah Arthur’s intent is to transform your soul and ministry, to help you re-envision your life in the light of the Gospel itself.”
-From the foreword by Ron Foster and Kenda Creasy Dean
In the spirit of Kenda Creasy Dean’s and Ron Foster’s classic resource The Godbearing Life (Upper Room Books, 1998), Sarah Arthur casts a new paradigm for youth ministry in which imagination and story take center stage. The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry (Upper Room Books, Oct 2007) explores the role of imagination and narrative in spiritual formation, reframing the youth pastor as “resident bard” and both scripture and the church as “narratable” worlds into which youth are invited. In addition to theological reflections on imagination and story, this book draws upon tools of the storytelling trade found in literature and the arts (such as metaphor) and considers how these might equip the church—and its youth—for telling and living the gospel of Jesus through worship and discipleship.
Signed copies are available here.
God-Hungry Workshops & Classes
Interested in having Sarah speak about the role of imagination in spiritual formation to your church, youth leader event, retreat, conference, or class? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Praise for The God-Hungry Imagination:
An excellent and thorough blog review by Kris Norris can be found here here.
“The youth ministry world today is re-thinking many of its assumptions, paradigms, and practices, searching for different approaches that might be more faithful and effective in contemporary culture. Sarah Arthur offers a creative and important contribution to these reconsiderations. It deserves to be widely read and discussed.”
– Christian Smith, sociologist, University of Notre Dame; director of the National Study of Youth and Religion
“Sarah Arthur’s God-Hungry Imagination is welcome evidence that youth ministry has entered the post-gadget era. She reminds us of a deep, if forgotten truth: human beings are story-telling, story-hearing, and story living beings. She shows us how to cultivate youths’ capacities for imaginatively dwelling in the Christian Story. And, along the way, she blesses us with some very good stories of her own.”
– Fred P. Edie, Duke Divinity School; Director, Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation
“Good stories, says Sarah Arthur, aren’t out to make a point. They are the point. And they’re powerful. Arthur even calls them “subversive.” They can wake you up and shake you up. When the Holy Spirit is present, they have the power to transform young lives and revitalize a tired youth ministry. Sarah seems to be onto something, and we who care about the spiritual health of young people would do well to carefully consider what she has to say.”
– Chris Lutes, Editor, IGNITE YOUR FAITH (formerly CAMPUS LIFE) magazine
“Beyond propositions, beyond even the elements of theme and plot, lie mystery and meaning. Arthur takes us on a delightful journey down a path of imagination and narrative, inviting us to become ‘bards’—stewards of God’s story to young people—and to have faith in the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives. I’m looking forward to sharing this one with friends and colleagues.”
– Will Penner, Editor, THE JOURNAL OF STUDENT MINISTRIES
“The God-Hungry Imagination challenges the ‘Mc Jesus’ culture of youth ministry that often seeks the latest ‘fad’ to attract youth. A gifted storyteller, Sarah Arthur offers a thoughtful perspective on the use and power of story to transform thoughts and lives. With assurance and conviction, Sarah provides insight into imagination as a source of spiritual growth.”
– Beth Miller, founding director, Strangely Warmed Players; author of Worship Feast Dramas (Abingdon)
“Having put together one too many supposedly “relevant” VBS or youth programs themed on a cheez-wiz Hollywood movie, I am hungry for this book. Sarah Arthur is a rare find. She is attentive to the needs of young people and eager to convey the richness of an orthodoxy that defies simple relevance. My eldest daughter, eager right now to answer whether Star Trek’s cybernetic character “Data” has a soul, presses her church teachers to tell stories that intersect and complicate the popular stories to which youth are privy. Sarah Arthur will be a gift to those who help youth to know their own soul, and to know it saved in ways that invite us into a lifetime of story-searching and telling.”
– Amy Laura Hall, Duke Divinity School, Professor of Theological Ethics
“Faith remains a vital part of most Americans’ lives, but conveying that timeless message to new generations is a challenge, especially now that our culture is so fragmented and so many messages compete for our attention. In her new book, Sarah Arthur argues persuasively that pastors, teachers and parents should reach back and reclaim the powerful narratives that were so important in reconnecting earlier generations with the faith. Standing in the tradition of J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and Frederick Buechner, Arthur explains why it is so important to connect teenagers today with some of the timeless narratives handed down to us. It’s in remembering those powerful stories that young people begin to connect the seemingly scattered elements in their own lives with a far larger, global community beyond the walls of their congregations. It’s time to set aside any lingering anxiety that evangelical Christians may still harbor about our narrative imagination, she tells us, and trust in the faithful influences of stories that already have swept thousands of lives into the family of faith.”
– David Crumm, Detroit Free Press Religion Writer