This book is “good stuff!” I would recommend it to my friends who are trying to develop a balanced ministry – a ministry that meaningfully includes young people.
To be honest, My least favorite part of the book was the title. GROWING YOUNG. Really? The title felt all-too-generic, or, cliche. And thus, in my mind, the book was potentially dangerous – especially if the information inside was just more-of-the-same. I felt worse when I caught the sub-title, “6 essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church.” Of course, the thought of FINALLY discovering the 6 ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES(!!!!!) to draw in the youth of my church initially sends a thrill up my back. But as I know all-too-well, rarely do these dramatic and exciting “equations” work out for the best for most of us. Why? Well…
Most books with these kinds of titles are superficial-at-best (or superfluous – can’t figure out which descriptor to use); usually highly specific to a geographical region or type of ministry, and these kinds of books end up generalizing virtually everything. In my experience, most books in this genre read like, “HEY EVERYBODY, I DID SOMETHING THAT WORKS, AND SO YOU ALLLLLLLLL SHOULD DO THAT EXACT SAME THING. YAYYYYY!!!!! OH YEAH, I ALMOST FORGOT TO MENTION: YOUR FIRST STEP TOWARDS SUCCESS IS BUYING *MY* BOOK” Actually, I get angry that most of these books sell! (Like, seriously, who actually takes this stuff hook line and sinker?!) Even worse, I’ve seen friends (fellow youth pastors) get all excited about an idea or the newest “essential strategy” (after all, who has time to read books WITHOUT dramatic titles when you are a youth pastor, right?) only to, in-the-end, confuse a lot of people in the church, try that “new style” for a few months, then go back to the same-ol-same-ol because really, that “essential strategy” isn’t all that essential for everyone, and especially for the long-term growth of real human people.
Thus, if not for having previously read the authors (who are the veritable and trusted experts in this area), I would not have been interested in the book. Thankfully, I’ve seen what these authors have done in the past, (and it was good), so I figured I’d go with them again. And, once again, they’ve produced a very helpful, balanced piece. The book is unlike almost everything like it. I liked this book for so many reasons, I’ll list just a few:
- Chapter 1 is a concise-yet-packed summary of the most up-to-date demographic research on young people. About 6 months ago, I spent 6 months reading the source materials on all this. After reading this chapter, I kinda wish I would have just read this book, and saved myself those 6 months! The authors hit the most important stuff that we should know, showing us that “It might feel like the sky is falling, but there is hope” (20). Ah, the voice of reason, (comprehensive) research and balance!?! Amazing! It CAN be done! So refreshing to find all 3 components in a BOOK of this genre, let alone in just the first chapter!
- Chapter 2 is filled-to-the-brim with very helpful analogies. While I’m still fairly new as a full-time pastor, I am learning how important analogies are. I could give my congregation a 10 minute lecture on why the most recent research backs up my methodology. Or, I could give them an analogy. Analogy works better 100% of the time. The thing is, it’s difficult to find and then articulate analogies that are not only representative, and clear, but also true. But somehow, this book is chock-full of good ones! To me, it is representative of deep reflection and knowledge of the subject. In fact, I’ve already discussed with my youth team the authors’ analogy of keychain leadership (57-58) as it concisely describes different leadership structures and allows the reader to discern which one is more preferable for their own context. Did you catch that? Their analogies force the reader to use discernment (Mirriam-Webster definition of discernment for any reader unfamiliar with the concept): Another feature rarely seen in similar books.
- Chapter 5 was my favorite chapter. As far as I’m concerned, there are more great, practical ideas in these 33 pages than in any other chapter of any other book of this type. Their “warm vs. cool” is soooo good. You have to read it to see what I mean.
- Lastly, scattered throughout the book are these little gray boxes that seem to clarify and add to what the authors are saying. So many of them are just really, really well done. Like, little snippets on a topic. They are short but somehow never redundant and always enlightening. A few of them are pictured below:
I’m so glad I read this book. You should too… You won’t be disappointed.
*Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied*