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.