I figured I would read this book (look to the left) now that I'm heading to the conference tomorrow. I've ordered tons of these and heard much about it since mid-fall here in L-ville. Steve Wright, student pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, has written a fantastic book on the church, youth, and family - how they can all work together. This book is not a typical youth program "how do build a bigger youth group" book. It is about how churches can strengthen and train parents in discipling their kids - and how the youth ministry can come alongside and equip them to do just that (as parents are the main disciplers of their children). This book is saturated with Scripture, insights from a person who has been in ministry a long time in different size churches and states, statistics on why current ways of doing youth ministry are just not successful, quotes from leading youth ministry experts, ideas from parents and students on what they have done to apply these ideas, etc. The only thing I would have done differently: put the regroup questions that were toward the end of the book (especially one about disengaged parents) at the front of the book. That is the one question I had during the whole read. What about those parents who aren't believers or who are "absent"? Anyway - here are some thoughts...
This is more of a personal intake thought, "When we do God's work God's way, then our lives should be marked with a badge of distinction - names soul rest, soul satisfaction, and soul sufficiency." (p 26)
"The solution isn't to kick the traditional student ministry model up a notch, the solution is to reexamine how the Bible should guide our framework to develop students and encourage the parents and adults who influence them." (p 31) This is why I really like Steve's book: it is biblical. It is not about programs or fun stuff or games or skits - it is about the Bible.
This is what I feel some churches (if not most) are doing: being relevant and cool. "Don't misunderstand, relevance is needed, and we want to be relevant to this generation, but have we placed a greater value on being culturally trendy than on faithfully presenting the Word." (p 61)
Here's the biblical mandate: "Dt 4.6-9" "All this repetition is more than coincidence, it makes it clear that the Shema is one of the most important passages in the OT, as it instructs parents with their God-given assignment to disciple their children." Now, I'm sure some will say, well, we don't live under the law, we live in the NT, under the cross. The Bible is a complete book - the OT is the very Truth out of God's mouth as well - All Scripture is God-breathed!
This is where churches come in: "We must equip parents with the tools and understanding to disciple their teens." (p 86)
I love this quote Steve uses from John Mac: "It is absolutely essential for the church to see itself as the institution established for the glory of God. The church has been reduced from an organism that emphasizes knowing and glorifying God to an organization that focuses on man's needs." (p 95)
This is a whole church process - not just the job of the youth pastor. It is also not just for churches the size of Providence - every church should and can be doing this. Steve offers suggestion for how he is doing things at Providence, and these simple ideas can be implemented at every church. Or, take the idea, listen to your parents and student helpers, and plan something just as great and incredible that will help your parents be the main disciplers of their teens.
Thank you Steve. Looking forward to Friday's conference in Raleigh.