Monday, November 02, 2009

Book Review - Youth Ministry in the 21st Century by Rick Lawrence

I’ve wanted to read Rick Lawrence’s book “Youth Ministry in the 21st Century. ” for a couple of months now but have been wading through “Desiring God.” But finally I’ve finished Pipers book and got a chance to dive into Rick’s book. Wonderful stuff and the interesting thing to me is that a lot of what Rick talks about is things happening here at NCBC. Here are two things that hit me:
First thing that hit me was the need to have a place that kids can be themselves. “If students know they can stop pretending and be who they actually are, with people who actually want to know them and love them… well, they’re in.” I’m always talking with my sponsors (our adult volunteers) that they need to spend time with the kids outside of our “regular” time together. Rick points to the fact kids need caring adults in their lives. If the adults are willing to share their lives with the kids - real youth ministry happens. Rick said, “At the heart of modeling is a desire to make your life a story worth telling” and I would add hearing. This reminds me of one of Kurt Johnston’s jr hi ministry “formulas” –

Middle school students + caring adults = good ministry

The other key thought that hit me was the huge impact parents have on their kids. There has been so many times in my ministry where I thought parents were the enemy. I was so wrong in thinking that way and Rick really makes a strong point about this. “Parents are, by far, the best faith sharers, evangelizers, and outreachers.” As a dad of a middle schooler I’m starting to understand this even more – my 7th grade daughter does watch my wife & me – like a hawk. This also means the youth ministry needs to poor ourselves into the parents. Rick put it this way, “it’s just as important for you to invest in parents’ spiritual growth as it is to invest in your students’ spiritual growth.” This is probably the weakest part of our ministry – we really need to work on this more.

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