Long time youth ministry veteran, Mel Walker, expertly writes a gracious wisdom-filled guidebook for youth ministry as it takes its next steps on it's long journey forward.
Taking on the national church drop out statistics with a knowledgeable and thoughtful nudge toward a balanced vision for youth!
Personal Note: I have known of and known, Mel for many years. Quite honestly, I have known him my whole life. He has also been "Uncle Mel" in my mind. His two nephews were two of my best friends growing up, and his brother was for a couple summers pretty much my second dad. He was always kind of "Uncle Mel", that cool youth pastor. I think it is rather ironic that all 3 of us, along with his own son all ended up in youth ministry? He and I have crisscrossed paths in personal and ministry life over and over again throughout the years. I have hung out with him at conventions, had him in my home, and have invited him to speak. So, when I heard he was writing another book, and saw the title, I was excited. When he asked me to give it a read and if I could write a review, I was privileged. That all being said, I might be a bit biased, but I honestly can say the below review is written because I loved this book, no matter who the author was. Here are my thoughts...
Long youth ministry veteran, Mel Walker, expertly writes a gracious wisdom-filled guidebook for youth ministries as it takes next steps on it's long journey forward, in his new book Inter-generational Youth Ministry. Mel is one of the "originals" in youth ministry. He is a speaker, author, curriculum developer, teacher, and all around "lifer" when it comes to youth ministry. He has committed his life to young people, when he decided to take on the ever quoted and overly bemoaned statics about teen drop out rates in the church while also addressing the movements toward inter-generational ministry in the church, it meant something. Mel is not the average, professor locked away in a classroom or a researcher coming up with a couple equation and a theory. He writes this book from past and present youth ministry experience along with the education and research to back it up. It completely shines though in the pages of this well written book
Fifteen chapters and just a bit over 200 pages combines the best of research and thoughts on the topic of current youth ministry models, statistics, and the current movement toward a more generational connected church. If you are fan of books like Think Orange and Sticky Faith, you are going to love this book. If you like myself have had numerous conversations and have been looking for answers for books like A Weed in the Church or the Divided movie, this book is for you, too. Mel thoroughly takes on both sides of the issues and brings both to the middle and gives an answer to both. While he does not claim to have the end all solution, he also spells out in clear, Biblical, point-by-point terms why a more truly inter-generational model is what the church currently needs.
This book is not just a book for youth workers. It is also a book for parents, adult pastor, and children's pastors. It also does not just cover youth ministry, it dedicates specific chapters to addressing each age group and ministry, including senior adults inside the local church. It is written in a way that anyone can read it and understand. While containing a plethora of quotes and connections to other resources, it does not read like a ministry book, just for those in a professional position. This is easily a book, that you can hand off to lay-leaders and volunteers around you.
One of things I love most about this book is Chapter 7's flipping the popular idea "that youth ministry has completely failed" on it's ear. He thoughtfully suggests that maybe youth ministry has got it right, the issue might be the as a whole. In a conversation with a friend that is mentioned in the book there is this idea,
"...Perhaps, we've go it all wrong, ..."What if it's the other way around? What is our kids leave
the church because traditional adult ministry are irrelevant, boring, and impractical to them?
We're blaming the youth group, but it might be the church as a whole that is the problem."
The topic is not just dropped after this quote, the chapter then goes on to articulate 13 "Positive Characteristics" of youth ministry, that the whole church could "pro-actively and intentionally incorporate"? Each of the characteristics, scripturally supported point out that the Biblical, intentional, culturally sensitive organization of youth ministry might in fact be able to be a model for the whole of the church.
This book is hopefully one that will not slip through the cracks, with so many books coming out recently and because it doesn't have a big publisher behind it or "big name" recognitions. This book is an outstanding book. I have recently been reading many different books and even writing reviews for quite a few of them. This book honestly, stands apart for many reasons. Mel, while he is a personal friend, is also a great man of God. His complete and an absolute heart for youth shines through. A life dedicated to youth and training youth workers/pastors/leaders saturate these pages. I would whole-heartedly recommend this book for veterans and rookies. Take your team through it or share it with the rest of your staff. It is worthy of a slow prayerful read however you decide to read it. Please consider picking up a copy as soon as you can.
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