Rachel and I are about to get involved with the youth ministry at our church, and so for that reason, we used it as an excuse to read this book that I’d been hearing about for a long time.

To sum it up very briefly, Mark DeVries’ take on youth ministry is that it does the church a great disservice because it separates young people from older Christian adults (especially their parents) and creates a subculture.  Then, when young people are too old for youth group, they don’t seem to fit into the church.

This is an idea I was fairly comfortable with, for no other reason than the Bible doesn’t really speak much about Sunday School and youth group, but it does speak a lot about parents training their children and older people training younger people.  So I think, just on the Bible along, you could mount a case for this type of ministry.

Oddly enough, DeVries doesn’t spend so much time building the case from Bible verses, but instead from a massively researched bunch of case studies, psychological studies, etc that demonstrate what is going on in youth culture, what happens when we make gaps between older and younger people, the impact of parents and mentors on kids’ faith, etc.  It’s fascinating stuff, and I think it really backs up what the Bible would have said all along.

The main dilemma with this book is that if you’re looking for a youth group system (ie – “Meet this week, do this study, then do this activity”), you’re not going to find it.  They have some suggested parent/young people activities in the back of the book and some studies that can be done with adults and children together, but on the whole, there’s no set system.  In fact, there’s an appendix that lists a summary of nineteen different models of youth group, just to give you an idea of what’s out there.

But for stimulating ideas and thinking, this book is well worth the read.

4 out of 5.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Family-Based Youth Ministry (Mark DeVries)

  1. I find that interesting.
    That is something that we struggle with immensly in our Church, because of the language barrier. “Church” is all Arabic – the sermons, songs and prayers – so the language barrier meant those of us that didn’t understand Arabic (who, coincidentally were all high school age) had to attend “Youth Group”, which was held at the same time. As we got older, it became “English Service” and began to follow a closer adaptation of what was happening in Arabic Service, however despite this, and all these years on, we are still stuck in the habit of having another service (“Youth Group”), at the same time as “English Service”, for those in years 7-10.
    When those kids come out of Youth Group, I don’t know if they will fit in to “Church” routine as well as my generation did…We still have not seen the fruits.

    I just might grab the book and have a read 🙂

  2. If you and your wife are going to become involved with the older, younger Christian generation (17-26) at your church, I also recommend Sex, Sushi & Salvation by Christian George. This book speaks openly and honestly about “intimacy, community & eternity” and shows how the Christian past is significant in a post-modern world. Young people these days are captivated by new technologies and earthly goods. George recognizes this and uses stories about his personal experiences and historical events to encourage a revival of a fresher faith. Definitely check it out, Matthew. I’d encourage younger folks to check it out as well.

    http://www.christiangeorge.org – George’s website & blog

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