As youth workers, we want to help the teens in our ministries experience the love of God in lasting, life-altering ways. But despite our best efforts, that often doesn’t seem to happen. In an overscheduled, achievement-focused culture, it’s easy for our teens—and for adults—to get swept up in life’s pace, resigned to believing that fleeting moments of circumstantial happiness are probably as good as it gets. What are we missing?
Dave Rahn and Ebonie Davis believe what’s missing is joy—joy that’s not tethered to circumstance, but that grows out of long-term, meaningful relationships with Jesus and others. “This book explores how to disrupt the pace of life we’ve commonly adopted in order to gain the life for which we were created—a life of deep, lasting joy,” the authors write. Rahn and Davis bring together decades of youth ministry experience, careful research, and vulnerable stories, encouraging readers to take practical steps that will help them discover “gritty joy” with Jesus. This optimistic and challenging book also identifies habits that, if adopted, lead to lives rich in the durable joy we, and our teens, long for.
Meet the Authors
Dave Rahn After beginning his ministry with Fort Wayne Area Youth for Christ in 1972, Dave joined the faculty of Huntington University in 1985, where he taught youth ministry for more than two decades. With a PhD from Purdue and an MA from Wheaton, his more than 100 published articles, essays, and books, have often been based on original research. He’s tried to make sense of adolescent influence, youth evangelism effectiveness, urban Indigenous leaders and—most recently, as reflected in this book—explore how joy with Jesus is a faith authenticator for young people. Dr. Rahn recently retired as Youth for Christ USA’s Senior Ministry Advisor, lives in Middlebury, IN, and enjoys being a grandparent of five with his wife of 43 years.
Ebonie Davis is a veteran youth worker in the Maryland suburbs, outside of Washington, DC. She’s a contributing writer on the NLT: Three Story Bible, and a research consultant on issues related to youth ministry, parachurch ministry, and church diversity. Ebonie holds a master’s degree from Huntington University in Youth Ministry Leadership. She was a project member on Yale University’s “Theology of Joy and the Good Life” research, funded by the Templeton Foundation. She enjoys exploring new places at home and abroad, with her husband of more than 20 years and their two teenagers.