Calhoun, Mike; and Walker, Mel. The GreenHouse Project: Cultivating Students of Influence
This youth ministry book is a comprehensive youth ministry guide that encourages youth pastors to produce a place of nurturing, strengthening, and preparing students (aka plants) for a productive life.
ch. 1: Our youth ministries are places that need to enlist, equip, and engage. This generation is attracted to a cause.
ch 2: It is all about character development. Character is attractive and attainable. God can take ordinary people and build character into their life. One way to make character attainable is by committing and practicing the spiritual disciplines.
ch3: Three discipleship strategies: 1) Centralized program, 2) Decentralized small groups, and 3) core group vs. evangelism. Discipleship in our youth ministries can be obtained by 1) recruiting leaders, 2) evaluating students both individually and collectively, and 3) develop a discipleship action plan. God uses discipleship relationship to develop both the discipler and the disciplee.
ch4: We do not value time as one of the most precious gifts from God after salvation, we freely waste it. Darwin: A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life.
ch5: Leading a youth bible study entails two things: 1) Communicate that the Bible has full authority, and 2) the leader needs a plan for studying the Bible. The leader can consult a Bible dictionary, one-volume concordance, Bible handbook, a NT dictionary, Biblical commentary, an interlinear NT, and apologetic books.
ch6: As a Bible youth communicator what are you trying to say? Rudolph argues that they communicate use a propositional statement approach and make sure to explain and illustrate each point.
ch7: On the youth ministry side of things, intergenerational means including as much family as possible. Youth Ministries need the age, maturity, experience, wisdom, and resources of an older generation. Vandegriff argues that the youth pastor provide adults with tools and resources to do the kind of job you (as the youth pastor) expect.
ch8: Ultimately there is a fundamentally huge difference between middle school students and high school students. Middle school students are looking for role models and high school students are wanting to own their faith.
ch9: Nobody has a clue on how to mentor gals. Our girls need to hear and know deeply that their value and worth was placed on them at creation and in them at salvation.
ch10: Does evangelism still work? Greg Stier argues hard that youth ministries need to not only update their evangelism methodology but put evangelism as their number #1 priority. Evangelism is not a priority until it is done relentlessly and consistently.
ch11: Youth pastors must encourage their students to impact their school for Christ and we must be there when they do.
ch12: It is important to develop a cross cultural vision for our youth ministries. If and when your youth ministry goes abroad, it is just as important to not choose perfect students but rather those who are genuinely making steps toward maturity in Christ.
ch13: Youth pastor must create an atmosphere where youth will want to be involved in Church.
ch14: Walker argues students should consider purposely praying about the possibility of lifetime in vocation ministry.
ch15: Are students more loyal to the youth group than they are to the church as a whole? 1) Equip parents to see the importance of regular church involvement for their children, 2) build leadership skills into the lives of our “older” students, and 3) develop a genuine loyalty to the whole church.
ch16: Student must be influencers. Every student must ask: who are you and what give you the right to lead others? Who are you attempting to impact? What doe s an influender look like?
What I Enjoyed: I really enjoyed that Bible study and evangelism chapters. More and more youth workers need to know how to study the Bible. Gordon Fee has two excellent books: How to Read the Bible For Everything It is Worth and New Testament Exegesis, that directly teaches pastors how to study the Bible. Stier is very passionate that all youth ministries must be encouraging all students to verbally share their faith. Stier provides this fascinating formula of: Loving^3 * Listening^3 * Learning^3 = Reaching^3. Stier is right: the average student today doesn’t have a context for understanding the gospel and student must be trained on what the gospel is and how to share it. I think the Gospel is a lot more broader than how Stier’s defines it but I think it works for the adolescent brain.
What I Didn’t Enjoy: This book contains a lot of information. It seems like there are 5 books all in this one book. The authors give such a holistic view of youth ministry and identify keys area, which makes the youth worker feel overwhelmed. Plus, the authors highlight so many great areas within youth ministry and they are not able to spend enough time developing their argument. I disagreed with the thesis in ch6. I think the job of the youth Biblical communicate should not rely on a rigorous propositional outline. I think our students highly relate with narratives and stories rather than easy to follow formulaic talking points.
I also would have liked it if one of the authors talked about how students are influenced and define their (the students) social psychology. Not all students are influenced easily. Seemingly our youth ministries are only influencing a few clusters of students. So what ends up happening is a reproduction of the same type of students. In a way one can call this cloning.
I would recommend this book to any youth worker who just enter youth ministry. This book compartmentalizes key categories within youth ministry and provides practive ways to develop an action plan. This book functions like great macro-economic textbook for youth ministry.
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