A new Presbyterian Youth Book Club study on the wildly popular young adult novel Divergent is now available on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)’s website.
Just in time for the release of a major motion picture in March, the study aims to help young people explore their faith through fiction and fantasy in pop culture.
“Like Hollywood, we noticed a surge in reading activity in our youth around the time of Harry Potter,” says Ministries with Youth associate Gina Yeager-Buckley, who began the book club about a year ago.
“As the market exploded, we began to create book club studies for churches to use with our youth so they could examine what they were reading and seeing through their lens of faith."
Yeager-Buckley says her work in the agency’s Evangelism and Church Growth ministry area increasingly involves helping young people live out Scripture—as disciples of Jesus—in the real world.
“The Divergent study helps them recognize they have many gifts,” says Yeager-Buckley. “It helps them see the larger picture of the goodness in the creation of God and how they might use each of their gifts for a greater purpose.”
In the dystopian near future of Divergent, the government classifies individuals based on their primary genetic gift, putting them into one of five categories. A group of “Divergents,"those who feel like they don’t fit neatly into any of the five classifications, rebel in hopes they can eventually rebuild their fallen world.
“These stories that our kids are passionate about have great theological meaning,” says Yeager-Buckley. “We don’t ask our kids to read only their Bibles, but to apply what they get from scripture in their lives — including what they are reading and absorbing in pop culture.”
The new Divergent resource and all previous Presbyterian Youth Book club studies can be downloaded for free. The studies have proven to be a great resource for the youth at Faith Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee, Fla.
“Many youth at Faith love to read — they’re so excited about the movie Divergent,” says Shannon Guse, the church’s director of Christian education and youth ministry. “They can’t wait to discuss the book with their friends in a faith context before going to see the film.”
Youth at FaithPresbyterian have participated in many of the previous book studies, from The Hunger Games to The Perks of Being a Wallflower to The Fault in Our Stars. Last month, the church even included its 4th and 5th graders in a study on Wonder by R.J. Palacio.
“Students young and old filled the room to learn empathy for others and how to define themselves as a child of God,”says Guse. “It was beautiful to hear their thoughtful and faith-filled conversation as they explored what it means to be ‘kinder than necessary.’”