I’m not sure where I got this book or who recommended it but Mark DeVries book, “Family Based Youth Ministry” has been an excellent read and now a resource for me to turn to.
Mr. DeVries made this book not only something that is a great read but also the back half of the book has a lot of great recommendation on “How to” do family based ministry.
The two key ideas that I got from this book are the need for any youth ministry to be “under girded” by family based ministry and that we will never have the “perfect” ministry plan in place.
I’ve talked many times to middle school kids about the fact that we all must have a strong foundation in our lives if we are going to make it through life. That foundation has to be based on the Bible or everything on it will fall (foolish man). The Bible clearly communicates to us that we have to turn to it to build anything lasting (wise man). We have a great youth ministry here at NCBC and we need to keep building it on solid rock – the Bible. The Bible sometimes points us to family based ministry. As Mark puts it “effective youth ministry come in all kinds of packages, using all kinds of models. The secret is not what the program looks like, but what is strategically built beneath that program.” If we keep our focus on God and His Word the program we do will work because it isn’t about the program but about what the program points kids to… Jesus.
It’s interesting to me when people come up and say “I get it..” or “I don’t get it..” I always wonder what “it” is. One thing that I’ve realized is that I will never “get it” completely. Mark seems to agree with this when he says, “One of my foundational theological assumptions is that we never quite ‘get it right’ when it comes to God…No matter how well we understand God today, there is a fuller understanding still awaiting us.” For some reason this has always been easy for me to accept. Life isn’t easy, in fact it can be downright hard and mean, but I find hope in the fact that I don’t need to always “get it” to fulfill the purpose God has placed me here for. This also is a great tool to share with the kids that even if they don’t “get it” sometimes God knows that and He will still work with us.
In my mind family based youth ministry can be put into one word “relationship.” As Mark says, “The Christian faith becomes real to most teenagers not because of rational arguments for Christianity …, but because real people live out the gospel in what may seem like very insignificant ways.” I’ve been a part of family based youth ministry stuff and I really didn’t know it. I’ve had a group of sponsors (my adult volunteers) who have been mostly made up of parents of or former parents of middle school kids do what may seem insignificant, but really are making huge impacts on our kids lives. This group has been the back bone of our ministry way before I came to New Covenant Bible and I’m sure they will be here after I leave.