Recently, I was taking advantage of a sale from Leafwood Publishers when I happened upon David Fraze’s Practical Wisdom for Youth Ministry: The Not-So-Simple Truths that Matter, and decided to buy it. I am so glad that I did! Simply put, this book was outstanding; it is the youth ministry book that I was planning to write one day, and now I don’t have to (which is good, because Practical Wisdom for Youth Ministry is better than what I would have produced!).
The book is split into 22 chapters of different concepts and aspects of youth ministry that matter. It is a diverse list, including topics ranging from The Bible, to Office Hours, to Sexual Purity, to Volunteers, and beyond. Each chapter is short, and contains three sections: “Why?”, “How?”, and “Now?” In the “Why?” section, Fraze discusses why a given topic matters, engaging the biblical text and providing theological justification for his point. In the “How?” section, he then offers practical tips to improve your ministry in that area, and in the “Now?” section, he offers first steps for improvement moving forward.
There were a lot of ideas in the book that I found to be very helpful, but here were some of my favorite quotations:
“Adult involvement is a key factor in measuring youth ministry success. In fact, adults are one of the main reasons students stay involved with the church after graduation.…To be most effective, youth ministers need to work to get the entire congregation involved in youth ministry.” (43-44)
“Marriage is intended to be a reflection of the intimate love, devotion, and sacrifice Christ has for the church. Therefore, a youth minister’s marriage is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, testimonies and tools he has to impact the lives of teenagers with the gospel of Jesus.” (80)
“Regarding Mondays after a weekend trip, most of the jobs your parents and adult volunteers work at expect that office hours be kept with excellence and responsibility. Regardless of whether they sponsored a weekend you retreat, they will be at work, on time, the next day. I expect the same type of office hours out of my employees. If it is not a day off, then get to work, on time.” (101-02)
“If your students and adults do what you do, would there be any outreach happening in your student ministry?” (121)
“While important, the events of youth ministry in and of themselves do not possess the life-changing power often bestowed on them by youth ministers. The events possess life-changing power to develop and support relationships with God’s people. The relationships are what matter.” (136)
It is really hard for me to overstate how much I enjoyed this book. While it does not offer an in-depth look at any of the topics included, it is an excellent introductory work for youth ministry. It would provide an invaluable resource to new youth ministers, but also is a helpful refresher for youth ministry veterans like myself, and also a way for me to reflect upon and improve in areas where I am weaker. I strongly recommend this book for anyone involved in youth ministry work (youth ministers, youth ministry students, youth deacons and elders, youth volunteers, etc.).