Morgan Schmidt


(9 customer reviews)

Awakening Teenagers’ Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus




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“Like a prophet from the Old Testament, Morgan Schmidt has called out youth ministry for its idol-making, asserting with flare and depth that youth ministry has been captured by desires other than encountering the living God.”

Dr. Andrew Root, Luther Seminary

What if teenagers wanted to follow Jesus, not just avoid hell?

Desire makes us who we are. What teenagers want—whether they possess it, long for it, are terrified by it, deny it, pursue it, or give up on it—impacts their relationships, dictates their actions, forms their character, and shapes their beliefs. So if they actually want Jesus or the church or the kingdom, then they’re more likely to keep wanting their faith beyond youth group.

Woo connects teenagers’ good desires with the Good News. It’s an invitation to reimagine the church as a place where students’ desires are honored; where they will encounter the One who desires and can participate with God in restoring the world.

Woo isn’t another method or gimmick that will bring students flocking to youth group. Instead, it suggests a way of being—one that begins with us. This isn’t sexy youth ministry, but it’s good.

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Morgan Schmidt is a snappy and relatable writer. But above all, she is a prophet blessed with a winsome honesty that sneaks up on you as you’re planning your umpteenth mission trip and whispers: “Recalculate.” For Schmidt, being human boils down to desire; and youth ministry that’s honest is about desire too—the desires of youth for God, the desire of God for them. With Woo, Morgan Schmidt joins a new class of practical theologians taking aim at the false gods driving the youth ministry industry, and she restores our focus—and our hope—on young people’s God-given desire to become, belong to, and worship as the body of Christ. Woo completely won me over.

Kenda Creasy Dean, Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary and author of Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church


Woo is, hands down, one of the most sensible and simultaneously exhilarating books about pastoring students that I have read in a long time. Morgan Schmidt wisely guides us to awaken desire rather than run from it, equipping us to form desire to follow in the way of Jesus. Woo invites leaders to see students as real people, with real longings that matter. Don’t let the warmth and wit of Morgan’s writing fool you—this changes everything you’ve known about youth ministry.

Dwight J. Friesen, Associate Professor of Practical Theology @ The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology, coauthor of The New Parish


Woo is a book about desire, the desire of young people to be authentic and real. It is also about the desire for those who serve the Church to be the midwives who help them do just that. Knowing Morgan Schmidt, I can tell you this book is authentic and real. Here is offered one devoted person’s theology and praxis around the ministry to youth. I highly recommend it, and I thank God for this offering to the Church.

The Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel, VIII, Bishop of Olympia


Both Augustine and Kierkegaard, in their own ways, asserted that we are what we desire. Consumerism has adopted in a counterfeit but powerful way this theology. When our desires go askew and latch onto consumer goods, political ideologies, or fear about our children, we create pantheons of idols to worship. Like a prophet from the Old Testament, Morgan Schmidt has called out youth ministry for its idol-making, asserting with flare and depth that youth ministry has been captured by desires other than encountering the living God. This is a book that will challenge you because it will ask you to expose your desires. But in so doing, you may find not the idol of successful youth ministry, but the living God who will draw you closer and closer to the humanity of young people this living God loves.

Dr. Andrew Root, Luther Seminary


I really like what Morgan Schmidt is saying to youth pastors in Woo: Awakening Teenagers’ Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus. We should know by now that approaching the Christian formation of young people in our churches needs something more than doubling down on what we think worked in the past or even a “new” method or model—a full theological paradigmatic shift is necessary. Morgan carefully unveils a more spiritual posture toward the young people we want to do life with. It starts with a passion to approach them with a sense of awe in their personhood. It involves our curiosity and commitment to cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s work of unleashing a young person’s imagination in the pursuit of discovering his or her beautiful God-given humanity. Maybe if we spent more time nourishing our own lives with God and what it means for us to become more fully human, we might just find ourselves around young people who feel fully alive desiring life in Jesus Christ. If you are comfortably ensconced in a church that puts on programs for youth to consume, and measures its success based on immediate results—don’t read this book. It will either make you very uncomfortable or—if it captures you—it could get you fired. But, then again, it could also spark an awakening in your congregation.

Mike King, President/CEO of Youthfront, author of Presence-Centered Youth Ministry: Guiding Students into Spiritual Formation. Follow MDKing on Twitter.

Additional information

Weight .7 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × .6 × 8.5 in

9 reviews for Woo

  1. Kendra LaBouf

    If you do not come with an open mind, do not come at all. This book challenged my thinking in many different ways. While I cannot say I agree with Morgan Schmidt on every point she makes, I can say that she made me rethink what I am doing in my ministry. When she writes about the 60 percent of youth that leave the church after high school, and how if that if our schools had that poor of a “pass” rate our schools would be under serious review, that got me thinking. Why are churches still doing the same old things and expecting to increase the percentage of people who stay after high school?

  2. Brandon Rhodes

    [This is Brandon’s wife reviewing] I was so excited to read this book, as I used to be involved in youth ministry at an evangelical church. Since then I have become jaded with the way youth are “ministered to,” so when I read the description of this book, I was hooked! Finally I was able to engage some of those nagging questions in the back of my mind, that I’d been ignoring. I had already done youth ministry, and while I don’t agree with everything that was done in the name of Christ (namely food eating competitions, spiritual highs at summer camp, and evangelizing to friends at school), I didn’t know how else to approach youth ministry any other way. This is a GREAT resource for anyone and everyone who work with youth! It really helped me understand a very typical trajectory for youth in the church today; how to make following Jesus relevant after the fog machine clears and kids experience the real world outside of the youth group bubble.

  3. Becky Wilson

    Schmidt’s work takes seriously the formation of teenagers. Her writing is accessible and funny, yet deeply profound. Woo is clearly a work birthed out of both research and experience and will prove to be a vital resource for youth workers doing the important task of discipleship in a post-modern and increasingly post-church context.

  4. BPD4003 “Aspiriing Writer”

    When I was younger I used to be religious. I suppose you could say I “grew out of it” as I got older, but anyone in Schmidt’s position (youth minister), and very likely her herself, would never have given up on her. I’ve only just started reading Woo, but Schmidt’s ability to grasp the attention of the reader is beyond remarkable. Her language choice is witty, enticing, and entertaining. I found myself chuckling through a number of the few pages that I’ve gotten to read.

    Woo is off to a fantastic start, and I’m positive won’t disappoint. I’ll update this once I finish the rest!

  5. Peter Strimer

    This book captures many small truths and wraps them in personal stories that show that the author has earned these truths through personal experience. Her ability to take biblical themes and find their parallels in the lives of teens makes the book a relevant pathway to new insights into youth ministry. A very refreshing approach.

  6. J. Roach

    I was lucky enough to be in a church where Morgan Schmidt was leading youth and I was blown away by her approach. I wish that as a teen I would have had what she was developing. Highly recommended.

  7. avacado

    Morgan asks really important questions and addresses them humbly. Instead of telling you how to do your job, she just asks you to consider looking more closely.
    Thank you, Morgan, for helping me to feel like I’m not crazy for doing youth ministry this way… for acknowledging the goodness and beauty in high school students and meeting them where they are at to guide them along towards desiring Christ, instead of telling them they are bad and punishing them for their decisions.

  8. meghan

    I love this book because it does not blame culture or teenagers for why they aren’t engaged or why they are leaving the church. I am so tired of that. The good news of Jesus is as good now as it has ever been. The challenge for youth ministers to to discover what the good news of Jesus is for our youth. This book asks how do we get the students engaged with the gospel in a way where they can bring their faith into all aspects of their lives and relationships.

    Morgan’s key point is desire. Do we understand what our youth desire and can we see that it is good? Instead of trying to correct their desire and teach them what is good- what if we believed that their deepest desires connect with the good news of Jesus and can be cultivated to join God in creating heaven on earth? Skeptical? Read her book and see her build her case and challenge our past perceptions of teenagers desires.

    Morgan brings her own experience and research to this book. If you are tired of youth ministry only consisting of games and shallow conversations read this book and be challenged to bring more depth into youth group!

  9. Can’t read on Netbook

    This is an amazing book for anyone to read, even if they do not have kids at home anymore. I wish I had known this when my 3 kids were in their teens, but of course back in the 70’s and 80’s they did not have all of the “gadgets” they have today or the peer pressure the kids have today to be accepted and wanting to be “one of the chosen”. I loved reading it in the soft cover and not on the IPad or Kindle or whatever. This is the kind of book you would like to earmark and go back to on real paper. We need more young people like Morgan to minister to our very venerable teenagers today!

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