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YM needs people to not only unconditionally love and care for them, but walk with them in the midst of their spiritual journey.

Youth MinistryBook Review: A New Kind of Youth Ministry by Chris Folmsbee

Chris Folmsbee is addressing an epidemic and problematic state YM is facing. YM ministry does not need a nice and neat cool program to attract students. YM needs people to not only unconditionally love and care for them, but walk with them in the midst of their spiritual journey. Adults need to be co-labors with students as they discover who God is and who God is in their life. Chris is, hence the title, formulating a new way to orchestrate YM. Chris is giving a bird’s eye perspective of the realities and practicalities of what needs to happen in YM. Chris is giving an articulation and language to the YM problem. Chris argues for a re-culturing of YM.

Re-culturing means a new: understanding of culture, students, and YM, methodology, teaching, leadership, discipleship, evangelism, missions, and weekly programs. Essentially a re-culturing means a YM make over. Changes happen over time. It is a gradual process. In the Church world, change is a very-very slow process. Also, people in Church do not like change or to be taught a new way. Chris is pioneering into a new way of doing youth ministry. Now, Youth workers, pastors, parents, students, and church people need to catch up with him.

Chris gives great practical principles that one can import into YM, but he does not a give a solid theological foundation to argue for and why there needs to be a re-culturation. I would have loved to see a theological chapter with applicable comments speaking to the new way of reculturing YM.

The traditionalists, who do not like to deviate from their way, may give hard resistance to Chris’s new way. It appeared Chris was already expecting the resistance. Throughout the book, Chris kept re-clarifying himself so the “traditionalist” would not miss interpret him. Chris would make a wonderful claim, and in the next paragraph would start with: I am not suggesting that….. I noticed Chris was trying too hard to please both his advocates and aggressors. Chris would make a profound statement and follow the statement with: I did not mean this or I am not suggesting this. If people do not like it, let them, and not you, deal with it.

I love the missional chapter of this book. YM needs to move from mission trips to living missionally. We need to be going global, but also we need to be going local. We need to be God’s people bringing our local communities reconciliation and restoration. We need to stop talking about the Gospel, and start walking out the gospel. Living missionally makes being a follower of Christ very practical and experiential. A student does not need to go to Africa in order to be a part of missionary work. In fact, a student can go down the street to do mission work, by simply being the Gospel to all people. Also, Chris gives wonderful charts, real life examples, resources, and tangible tool for youth workers who want to incorporate the ideas of living missionally in their YM.

There needed to be a chapter devoted to reculturing parents. If a youth minister begins to import the ideologies reculturation in their youth ministry, parents are going to freak out if they are not prepared and equipped adequately. Parents need to be recultured in addition to YM. Parents are going to start to wonder why youth group does not have all of the fun power point games with prizes anymore? Seemingly, if one is going to begin to reculture their youth ministry, the church at large and parents also need to be on board with the recutlturation process. There is nothing worst then having a parent who is feeling out of the loop to what is happening in the YM. While considering how the YM needs to be re-cultured, one needs to consider how the parent needs to be re-cultured so they can understand, support, and encourage the YM in the new way. With a new way of YM, means a new way to communicating, connecting, and relating to parents.

I give Chris’s book two thumbs up! Chris not only coined language to the new way of YM, but illustrated how to orchestrate a new way of YM. I believe Chris has dropped a bomb on the YM world and now the YM world needs ask themselves: am I going to react or embrace this new way of doing YM. Chris’s method is not a model, but practical principles that aim at the core needs of today’s students. It is up to the youth minister to contextually, theologically, and practically develop a plan suited to his or her youth ministry that can begin to execute the new way.

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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