Book Club: Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 1

Welcome to our very first Book Club discussion. The purpose of these book discussions is to provide a venue for conversation on the content and value of the variety of youth ministry publications that are available. Each month, we will choose a youth ministry book and we will post weekly summary and review points with a few conversation starters. We’ll do our best to make the conversations applicable to everyone – even those of us who are too busy to read along.

Our first selection is Mark Devries’ Sustainable Youth Ministry.

How do you know if you are stuck? Discussions from Chapter One.

Being comfortable in the way you do ministry as a professional or as a volunteer is quite common. We quickly wrap ourselves up in the daily grind of preparing lessons, creating publicity and meeting with students. When things seem less than ideal, we cover the eyesore with the philosophical bandages of “numbers don’t matter” or “families have changed” or “we can only do so much.” Mark Devries doesn’t allow the leaders in youth ministry any such bandages. In the first chapter of Sustainable Youth Ministry, he unpacks the code, the language, a youth ministry that is stuck in a rut uses. He points to five questions a stuck youth worker uses:

  1. Can you just give us some good ideas?
  2. Can you keep us from failing?
  3. Do you understand how different we are?
  4. Will you help my church understand that youth ministry isn’t about numbers?
  5. Can you get me out of all these political games?

As Devries digs through these questions in the book, I found it hard to imagine a youth worker that hasn’t uttered at least one of those questions at some point in their career, professional or volunteer. Regardless of history, what matters is today. Are you stuck today? Do you find yourself pondering Devries’ questions? Are you looking for the evasive easy button?

Questions for your pondering and responding:

  1. Devries distinguishes from “good numbers” and “bad numbers” on pages 26-27. The amateur statistician in me is a bit confused about the qualitative nature of his quantitative questions. Whats the role of numbers in your youth ministry evaluation? How do you quash “bad number questions” and lift up “good number questions?”
  2. How do church politics play into youth ministry? Are you isolated from the majority of the issues or are you in the center of it all? How does that affect the effectiveness of your ministry?
  3. Reading a heavily systematic book can be overwhelming for the practitioner. As you read this book, what is one thing you want to glean from it?

Find more Book Club discussions on Sustainable Youth Ministry:

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 2

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 3

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 4

Sustainable Youth Ministry, pt. 5

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