Book Review - Sustainable Youth Ministry
'Wow'. I honestly cannot count the amount of times that word came out of my mouth while I was reading 'Sustainable Youth Ministry' by Mark DeVries. I was consistently surprised at how much sense he was making and how, when broken down in to doable processes, the monster that is ministry can become much more manageable and much less frightening and overwhelming. Now, don't misunderstand me, this book is not a magical cure for the ailments in ministry, but I'll be honest when I say it is one of, if not the best books out there on building and sustaining a successful youth ministry.
The ideas DeVries presents are not ground-breaking or cutting-edge, this is not 10 step program to a rockin' youth ministry. This is a book all about the nitty-gritty, detailed, and ugly aspects of ministry. Dealing with church politics, dealing with parents, dealing with logistics, planning, and organization, dealing with your own problems, dealing with unhealthy expectations, etc. Frankly its a book all about the stuff that no one bothers to teach you in college.
I have taken much of what DeVries has to say to heart and have chewed it over in my mind and as a result the leadership team for our youth ministry has taken it upon ourselves to begin building a sustainable foundation for the youth ministry here at FBC. We've started by making an organizational leadership chart and a master calendar for the year, we are working on job descriptions for every volunteer and staffed position, we are beginning to develop training protocols and evaluations for those positions, we are going to create a master recruiting plan, and we are doing all of this with the goal of long term stability and sustainability in mind. We're trying to build that proverbial snow ball that starts out small, but as it begins to roll down hill and pick up momentum it gets bigger and bigger and bigger.
We are under no impressions that this will be easy or fast. It will take time, effort and more patience than I care to think about right now. But the goal is to build something that will last the tests of time and transition. Something that will still be standing when I'm old and out of the game.
I cannot recommend this book enough to ANYONE in ministry, be it youth, children's, men's, women's, or even senior pastors. The principles and ideas in this book are transferrable to all areas of ministry. If you are a volunteer or a paid staffer please consider reading this book, you will not regret it. Check it out here for more info.