Book Review: Speaking to Teenagers

March 11, 2008

I just finished Speaking to Teenagers over the weekend. Written by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins, this book will soon become a youth ministry standard text. Although I don’t foresee this book replacing Creative Bible Teaching as the textbook for giving a Bible lesson, Speaking to Teenagers will become a companion book in many colleges and seminaries.

In this book, Fields and Robbins take the reader through every step of giving a message. And by “every step” I do mean every little detail; the authors make sure they cover all aspects of sermon preparation and delivery. The first third of the book seems a bit weighty, only because it dwells on the philosophy and basis for communicating with students. The last two thirds of the book are the real enjoyable chapters, where the authors provide you with concrete steps to improve your preparation and presentation of a message. Throughout the book, Doug and Duffy weave in personal examples from their decades of experience in youth ministry.

Overall, a great read filled with help and advice on improving your communication. Especially helpful to new and veteran youth workers alike.

Speaking to Teenagers book
Speaking to Teenagers at Simply Youth Ministry


Book Review: Cradle to Cradle

February 13, 2008

I finished Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things last night, and I must admit that I liked the book.  This is an environmental book that essentially says “Everything we are doing is wrong!”  Although I may not agree with this, the book piqued my interests, so I read it.  Here is an excerpt from my Library Thing review:

The most notable feature of Cradle to Cradle is the book itself. It is not paper, cardboard or newsprint, but rather made entirely of plastic. This provides the reader with a completely waterproof and very durable book which is then fully recyclable when finished. The physical book is an example of what the book teaches: we need to reevaluate and revolutionize current products.
While the book did not make me trade in my jeans for Organically grown, no artificial dye cotton pants, or condemn anyone that eats anything that was once living, or permanently dwell in the upper canopy of a redwood tree, I did think some principles are applicable to youth ministry.  Most notable, there are times when we need to completely rework how we show the love of Christ to students.  A student’s culture is like Jello, shifting and changing every second.  We cannot keep ministering to them with the same methods developed in the 60s.  It was good enough for you then, but to your students, it is not. 
In ministry, we must be willing to completely redevelop our programs if needed. Sure, it will take time, energy, and possibly a learning curve.  You will hear complaints: “This isn’t how we used to do it” or “The old youth pastor never did this.”  However, your job is not to keep the status quo.  Your job (and calling) is to reach lost students with the love of Jesus, and to grow your students into young adults who are competent and devout in their faith. 
This means we need to embrace social media sites (Facebook, YouTube, MySpace), work on new ways of communicating with them (IM, texting, Twitter, and rarely email), and develop creative presentation methods that fit their 10 second attention span (remember: your students do not know of a time before the Internet, cell phones, and On Demand).  Don’t let a “sacred cow” (like Sunday School or the 100th annual retreat) get in the way of your ministry to your students.  Be willing to redevelop your programs for your students’ sake.  While all else may change, two things remain the same: the love of Jesus Christ, and your students’ need for Him.

Book Review: Cod

January 27, 2008

Just finished Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World over the weekend (went on a ski trip with the Junior High, will post comments tomorrow).  A fascinating little book (under 300 pages, but very easy pages) about the history of cod and it’s impact on human history.  Below is my review from LibraryThing:

         This small tome provides fascinating insight into the historical importance of cod to the development of Europe and North America.  Initially drawn by the uniqueness of the subject (Who has read a biography about a species of fish?), I was very impressed with how author Mark Kurlansky weaves the importance of cod into the narrative of history.  The secret to the Basque development in the Middle Ages? They had discovered the North Atlantic cod fields.  How were the Vikings able to survive on voyages to Iceland, Greenland, and North America? They depended on cod.  Why did Boston and the rest of the New England colonies gain power almost overnight? They had developed a great cod industry off of Cape Cod.  Throughout the last 1000 years of world history, especially North Atlantic history, the fishing of cod has been a key issue.

            Kurlansky develops the cod fishing industry through time as well as location.  Attention is given to Gloucester, Iceland, and Newlyn, three cod fish capitals in a former life.  However these towns, as well as the codfish industry itself, are being lost due to overfishing.  The author takes time to describe the current state of the codfish industry, where overfishing and the subsequent government-issued moratoriums have forced most cod fishermen into the unemployment line. 

          This very entertaining book will leave you wanting more.  I have already added a few similar subject books to my “To Read” list in order to whet my appetite.  Overall, a very good book about the impact of a fish on 1000 years of world history, and the current struggles to keep this fish from extinction. 

 Since I am a history geek, I am always a sucker for obscure yet interesting history books.  Check out my LibraryThing Library for more of my tastes in books.

   A Biography