Jul 1, 2009

book review: middle school ministry

I had the blessing of reviewing this book for YouthWorker Journal, soon to be released sometime in August. If you work with students or parent kids in the 11-14 age group, you need to grab this when it comes out.
Middle School Ministry: A Comprehensive Guide To Working With Early Adolescents
By Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin
Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2009, 384 pp., $15.99

For rather appropriate reasons, there’s a squirrel on the cover of this book. While middle school ministry has received more dignity in recent years than the church has given it in the past, working with young teens requires the same kind of intentionality that approaching a fuzzy rodent in its natural habitat might. As the authors contend, this stage of life cannot simply be written off as a “holding tank” for high school - much care must be put into connecting early adolescents to Christ in this “make-or-break” timeframe if they hope to experience a lifetime of spiritual significance.

While the average youth worker already knows all of this, a hole has existed in many ministry circles regarding the appropriate training and insights that this resource dynamically addresses. Oestreicher and Rubin blend humorous narratives with confident passion to seamlessly volley their combined experiences and research with the 11-14 age group. The result is this comprehensive offering that uses humble, everyday language with just the right amount of academic color commentary from other professionals.

The first section help unpack what is happening within and to the average preteen, while the second section offers practical ideas to be sure that what is happening within and through you appropriately matches up. The authors give you every reason to succeed and stay inspired, from the special Q&A and ideas section that close out the book to the guest contributor’s “Why I Do This” story provided in each chapter. As a dad, I found the insights on “normalizing their experiences” the single most important takeaway on how I relate with my own kids. As a reviewer and lead pastor, though, I can’t think of a better book to put into the hands of anyone in youth ministry… or your whole church... or parents of tweens.

1 comment:

Todd Perkins said...

Thanks for the review. I will be sure to add this book to my library.