It's always a bit intimidating to interact with wicked smart, highly degreed ministry leaders who have a different, slightly different or radically different view of youth ministry than you do. Fernando Arzola Jr., Ron Hunter Jr., Brian Cosby, Chap Clark and yours truly did just that in the #1 New Amazon Release (in the Youth and Christian Ministry Category)... Youth Ministry in the 21st Century: 5 Views.
The basic idea behind writing the book was to compare and contrast five different models of youth ministry. Each of us wrote a chapter describing and making a case for our particular model. Then every contributor analyzed and responded to each other's chapters with both positive and negative feedback. Finally, the writer of that particular chapter/model would respond to their responses.
It sounds a bit confusing but it was a powerful process. Chap Clark, professor and chair of the youth, family, and culture department at Fuller Theological Seminary, did a masterful job as the ringleader/author of this intellectually stimulating and emotionally stretching circus (emotional because nobody enjoys having their view analyzed and criticized.)
The result is a book that I'm convinced will help youth leaders and those studying to be youth leaders think through, wrestle down and build up a youth ministry model that is both Biblical and relevant. This book could be a much needed stimulus to help propel youth ministry to new horizons of effectiveness and impact for years to come.
That's my prayer for it anyway.
You can find out more about the authors on the Baker Publishing website. Here's a quick snapshot of each contributor's view:
Fernando Arzola presents the Ecclesial Model of Youth Ministry. The goal is to develop a formal teaching strategy as the center of youth ministry nurture and discipleship.
Ron Hunter presents the Family Focused Youth Ministry Model. The goal is to show how church and home work in a complimentary fashion.
Brian Cosby presents the Reformed Youth Ministry Model. The goal is to equip parents to raise up children in submission to and under the teaching of ordained church leaders by means of the ministry of the Word, prayer, sacraments, service, and gospel community.
Chap Clark presents the Adoption Model of Youth Ministry. The goal is to create an environment where every young person knows and experiences being cared for in an almost parental way as they prepare to enter into emerging adulthood.
And I presented the Gospel Advancing Model (although I prefer to call it a philosophy that will work within any model of ministry.) The goal is to create a context where evangelism and discipleship thrive as teenagers are mobilized for relational evangelism.
In this book there is real and honest discussion about the differences between our views. But all of it is done with the right mixture of forthrightness and humility.
To be honest I learned something new from every contributor's thoughts. These men of God made strong cases and I have already taken some of their "legos" and snapped their best thoughts into my view of youth ministry. I especially resonated with Chap's adoption model because it was a youth group that was equal parts adoption and Gospel Advancing that "adopted" me into their church family (I was fatherless) and discipled me in amazing ways (while mobilizing me to advance the good news of Jesus of course!)
My prayer for this book is that it will be used by God to start a much needed discussion in youth ministry. I pray it helps youth leaders build a model that honors the history of the church, deepens the theology of our teenagers, engages parents to lead the way, recruits adults to invest in the lives of broken teenagers and mobilizes teenagers to spread the best news ever.
Pick up Youth Ministry in the 21st Century and start the conversation with your staff. Also sign up for updates of my soon-to-be-released book Gospelize your Youth Ministry. My new book will unpack the Gospel Advancing view over 12 chapters (based on the timeless principles in the book of Acts) and help youth leaders build a youth ministry that is effective in both evangelism and discipleship.
I thank God for Christian conflict when it happens in a thoughtful and loving way. As Proverbs 27:17 tells us, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."
What a blessing it was to be sharpened by these Godly men and by this whole book writing process!