In the new book A Defense of Youth Ministry, Lancaster Bible College, professor of youth ministry, Ron Belsterling, removes the gloves in order to take on some of the championed theories of youth ministry from the last few years. He steps into the ring to throw some skillful and knowledgable swings at the current state of youth ministry, as well as its future. He unapologetically separates facts from popular urban legend, as he faces down what is really needed in today’s American youth ministry. With years of experience, research, and time spent in academia walking besides future youth ministry leaders, he corners the incorrect assumptions of some the most popular theories of youth ministry.
He steps out the the ring to announce a fresh idea of youth ministry based on what he calls “attachment relationship ministry”. His theory divides up the students in the average American youth ministry into 4 groups based on their security or insecurity relationship with God and their parents. His theory goes to the heart of what much of the family/parent-based ministry models is trying to do. He then combined it with the value of relationships/connection based ministry to take the idea of relational ministry to a whole new level of understanding and Biblical foundations. With a combination of one-two punch of psychological and theological understanding, this theory is a knock out! This book truly stands up and fights for youth ministry while offering a solid plan to train and win back its future!
The final section of the book moves the ideas to the street giving real life practical application to theory for each of the four types of students. The book offers great advices from a seasoned ministry mindset, that both veterans, rookies and volunteers can all work on. The book provides simple but thoughtful ways to meet the needs of every students type inside and outside of the church, with honest challenges.
This is a book you will read slowly with a pen and highlighter in hand as you underline and highlight so many great thoughts. This is a unique book that stands apart in the cluttered bookshelves of the average youth ministry office. Belsterling is not shadow boxing with himself and previous theories, He stands up with a fresh perspective and strong voice in defense of youth ministry and its future! You will find his perspective and transparency free from the usual theories as he is willing to step on a few toes in the process of calling us to be champions in our world willing to defend the title of “Youth Minister” in whatever contexts God has called us to!