Disclaimer/Apology: I graciously received this book directly from the publisher before it even was available to buy. Unfortunately I was in the midst of a surprise ministry transition, and was not able to sit down to completely read this book until recently. I have carried this book in my backpack almost every day since I received it. I have been so anxious to be able to read this book! This promised review is long overdue.
The recent book, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry by Michael l McGarry is by far the best page-for-page comprehensive book on the foundations of youth ministry I have read in a very long time. This book is so well researched and referenced, it could lead you down a rabbit hole that would last you years if you were to read each of other book in their entireties. McGarry takes the best of youth ministry thought and theory and creates a short (under 165 pages) book that sums up everything you need to know about why theologically and Biblically we do youth ministry.
The foundational heart of this book is first and foremost the Bible. I love the fact that he walks through the honest truths of youth ministry in a deep but accessible way that everyone can understand. I know he is holding back for sake of time and reader interest, but there is no words wasted as he shows us from the Old Testament, New Testament and from church history that ministry to the next generation has always been present and central to God’s instructions for His people.
He explores the 4 phases of youth ministry history while crossing over into a brief study of past and modern youth culture in America. He offers us a clear view of the continual dire need for youth ministry in America and in the America church.
Beyond the understanding of traditional youth ministry, there is a intentional connection made throughout for a broader view of youth ministry that is family and parent inclusive, once again grounded in Biblical context and truth. My pen and highlighter were going dry as I made my way through the first half of this book, before I could refresh my brain to take on the second half of the book addressing the historical and social constructs of youth ministry.
The book does not take the easy way out or find a creative way to restate what has already been stated in other books, resources, and trainings. McGarry decides to unapologetically go farther than most while remaining on topic and targeted,honing into the theological foundations of why we do what we do in youth ministry.
This is a book that I know is going to be used in many classrooms in the years to come as a we raise up the next generation of youth pastors and leaders. I know personally this is going to be a book that I will be processing with my own team and staff. It is a solid book well worth the time to read!