Seven years ago, when God saw fit to drop pre-teens on our doorstep, Gary and I didn't have a clue about youth ministry. Our first 'youth group' meeting literally consisted of an adult bible lesson with a treasure hunt slapped on the front (you know, to kid it up).
We've come a long way since then, mainly due to the grace of God, but I also give credit to the good training we've been given through books and conferences. The following are two youth ministry "must-haves" that I've recently read. Or re-read. If you're in youth ministry, and you haven't perused these yet, add these to your Christmas list:
hurt: inside the world of today's TEENAGERS, by Chap Clark
For this book, Chap Clark spent a year in a high school observing and interviewing students. What he came back with is an eye-opening look at the reality that today's teenagers are living in. With the explosion of technology, change in culture, expansion of adolescence and breakdown in families, it is a very different world today than when I was in high school fifteen years ago. I recommend this to all youth workers, teachers, and parents that want a deeper understanding of the lives of today's teenagers.
your first two years in youth ministry: a personal and practical guide to starting right, by Doug Fields
I was blessed to get my hands on this one as a volunteer early on. It is a treasure trove of advice from a seasoned youth worker, looking to help others learn from his mistakes. I credit Doug Fields for helping me develop a realistic picture of what healthy youth ministry looks like. I found it invaluable during my volunteer years, and have recently brought it out to read again from my new perspective of full-time youth pastor's wife. It still rules.
Fellow Youth Ministry Peeps: What are your ministry or culture "must-reads"? Drop me a comment!