Book Review: Missional Youth Ministry

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I absolutely loved Missional Youth Ministry by Brian Kirk and Jacob Thorne. Brian and Jacob are mega-bloggers for the amazing blog, Rethinking Youth Ministry. The book was well-needed for my ministry context and I gained a lot of principles to think, chew and meditate on as I continue ministry here in Springfield. I must say, the book is so much a “model” for youth ministers to place into their programs as it is a discernment tool to ask questions to see if we are leading our teens to be disciples. The book is not a textbook on what it means to be missional as it is more of a practical guide to share ideas and to ask (stated above) difficult questions. I appreciate how relational and ecclesial the book was in its primary focus. Love God, love others and love the church might be a good motto for the thrust of this book. My favorite chapter was “the end of educational ministry” where they dissected a teenager’s brain (metaphorically of course ;)) to show how they learn, connect and lead others. The book is worth the purchase just for all of the ministry ideas related to programming, worship and discipleship. I also loved how they implemented their blog posts throughout the book. I wish they would have cited the url for the post but we could always look it up. I could see this being used among youth ministry teams, youth minister retreats and even among parent-minister meetings. I loved it!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • Chapter 1 – “The challenge for those of us in youth ministry is to get beyond our fears and anxieties and trust that God is already working in the lives of young people” (p. 20).
  • Chapter 2 – “Helping teenagers grow stronger in the Christian faith goes far beyond having them memorize Scripture or learn bible stories or creeds” (27).
  • Chapter 3 – “I find that too often our youth ministries offer a Jesus who is safe, a Jesus who asks little of us beyond giving intellectual assent to a list of religious beliefs” (p. 45). “If you’re playing it safe to keep your job, or to make sure your teens like you, or to make parents happy, then it’s time to flip everything you’re doing upside down” (p. 46).
  • Chapter 4 – “Thinking intentionally about the boundaries in adult-teen relationships isn’t optional” (p. 64).
  • Chapter 5 – “We live in a results-and-success-oriented culture. Even the church has bought into the lie that its identity comes from its programs” (p. 75).
  • Chapter 6 – “We can teach all of the bible studies we want, but ultimately the parents have the most important and lasting influence on a young person’s faith–for good or ill” (p. 97).
  • Chapter 7 – “…it’s easier to tell teens what to think (and what not to think) than to walk with them through the long and sometimes difficult process of discovery–especially if we believe we’ve already found the right answers” (p. 108-09). Speaking of emotionally-charged camps and forced spiritual decisions: “Some of those same youth who made tearful committments tp Christ on the last night of camp were the first ones to ditch church and youth group a week later in order to go to a friend;s home to play video games” (117).
  • Chapter 8 – “Teenagers want to know and worship a God who spends time with them beyond the confines of stained glass and organ music” (p. 128).
  • Chapter 9 – “A truly missional youth ministry can only grow out of the unique gifts and needs of the young people in your group” (p. 145).

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