Category Archives: student ministry

Waiting Vs. Wasting

A great blog on waiting – something I know a little about – from my good friend Darren Sutton. It was a good word for me, and I think it will be for you, too.

Everyone's Called to Youth Ministry

Waiting-Room-Braille-Engraved-Sign-SE-2730“Sometimes waiting turns to wasting.”

And with those words, Jesus rocked my world through Katie’s wisdom once again!

Our family has been in a holding pattern for a LOT longer than we ever anticipated when this journey was thrust upon us by God.  And it was very evident early on that it would be a significant wait…much like that time you went to the doctor’s office and got there on time for your early-morning appointment and still missed an entire day of work.

You remember the appointment, right?  A minor annoyance at first, you watched the clock and wondered exactly how long you’d be there.  As you settled in to an uncomfortable seat and hoped you wouldn’t catch what anyone else had, you began to plan out your adjusted calendar for the day.  As you realized even the most well-adjusted calendar wouldn’t be happening THAT day, you sent a few…

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Review | “Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry…They Just Don’t Know It Yet” by Darren Sutton

Everyone's Called to Youth Ministry...They Just Don't Know It Yet

Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry… They Just Don’t Know It Yet is a short book, but don’t let that fool you.  It’s packed with information on recruiting, caring for, putting to work, and retaining adult volunteers in your student ministry.  (Full disclosure: the author, Darren Sutton, is a friend of mine.)

The book is not a literary masterpiece, but it doesn’t need to be.  In fact, it shouldn’t be.  Darren writes with a conversational tone and sense of humor that are endearing (if a little corny) and draw the reader in quickly.  It’s full of great information but is in no way dense.  It’s a fast and easy read.

Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry… They Just Don’t Know It Yet, pretty much contains Darren’s entire philosophy on youth ministry volunteers.  It’s the wisdom (he’d probably laugh at the use of this word!) of a man with more than 20 years in youth ministry, a man who loves students and loves the adults who love students.  He also knows that the “lone ranger” mentality of so many in ministry – especially, it seems, youth pastors – may work in the short run, but over the longer term it wears the youth pastor down and creates a ministry with a single point of failure.

The book begins by showing you how to find volunteers in your church, and you may find them to be the most unexpected people.  There are great tips for understanding who your volunteers are (their personalities and spiritual gifting) and how they can best function in your ministry.  It provides information on training volunteers, and the final chapter is on releasing the volunteers in whom you’ve invested to lead, equipping them rather than just delegating.

Having seen Darren’s philosophy at work, I can tell you that what you’ll find in this book is a model that works.  The book provides practical steps for implementing without trying to squeeze the reader’s ministry into Darren’s mold.

But be forewarned.  This isn’t a step-by-step guide to overnight success.  It takes time and investment on the part of the youth pastor, but it’s an investment in the Kingdom – in both students and adults – that will bring lasting returns.

You can purchase Everyone’s Called to Youth Ministry… They Just Don’t Know It Yet here.

I received this book for free from LeaderTreks for the purpose of this review.

Review | Two Sides by Darren Sutton

Two SidesFirst off, a disclosure – Darren is a close friend, so maybe I’m not being entirely unbiased in my review of this book.  But here’s the deal: I’ve had the opportunity to work with many student pastors over the years, and Darren’s insight, passion, and love for students make him the best of them.

Two Sides is not a book that is designed to give you a specific model for any facet of youth ministry.  Rather, it gives you views from both sides (hence, the title) of different issues that are commonly faced by youth pastors.  The topics range from office hours (fixed or flexible) to curricula (pre-written or write-your-own) to the age of volunteers (older or younger) to summer schedules.  And the contributing authors are experienced youth workers from a variety of backgrounds.

It’s an easy read at 74 pages and isn’t incredibly complex.  The format is straightforward, just as you want a book of compiled essays by a variety of contributors to be, and it provides questions to ponder after each topic.

The book does well what it sets out to do: it gives the reader ideas to chew on.  What does my ministry look like?  How do the views presented here mesh with that?  Which view or combination of views would be the best implementation for me?  Don’t expect to get the answers to those questions from Two Sides, but expect helpful guidance in forming your own answers and strategies.

You can buy the Kindle edition of the book by clicking on the image above.  If you need a hard copy, try here.

Review | An Exposé on Teen Sex and Dating by Andy Braner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars.

An Exposé on Teen Sex and Dating: What’s Really Going on and How to Talk About It is something of a misnomer for Andy Braner’s latest book.  Braner does give us the low-down on the sexual behavior of teens and what “dating” really means to this generation, but an exposé would provide us with some hard evidence.  Braner simply tells us, “Teenagers have told me all about hooking up and what their dating relationships look like, and it’s scary!”

Not only does he offer nothing more than anecdotal evidence – and not a lot even of that – but he presents it as though ALL teenagers are involved unimaginably sordid behavior.  The lack of evidence and the abundance of alarmism were off-putting for me.  I found myself doubting whether teens were really involved in the kinds of behavior he was talking about and doubting his insights into dealing with them.  (The question isn’t whether they’re engaging in these types of behaviors.  It’s whether the behaviors are as prevalent as Braner’s rhetoric makes them seem.  They may very well be, but he gives the reader no real reason to believe so.)

In the end, though, the title and the alarmism do a disservice to this book.  There’s a lot of good material to chew on.

The fact is, teens ARE engaged in sexual hookups that are completely devoid of commitment – among other things – and the strategies that youth pastors and parents have used for years to help their students stay pure just aren’t working.  Many teens have no problem going to a purity rally Friday night and having sex with their significant (or not-so-significant) other on Saturday.

Braner’s idea is that we cast aside the notion of courtship (he calls special attention to Joshua Harris’s well-known book I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and help teens engage in a type of dating that centers around communication, getting to know each other, getting to know themselves and learning what it means to be in a committed relationship.  I found myself agreeing enthusiastically.

There’s much more going on here, including how student pastors and parents can communicate the realities of marriage and sex to their teenagers as well as how we model some of these behaviors for them.

I’d encourage any youth pastor or parent of a teen (or younger – my girls are four and one, and I found a lot to think about) to read this book.  Just remember, it’s not really an exposé, but it can be a big help in the battle for students’ purity.

I received this book for free from NavPress for this review as part of their blogger review program.