Sustianable youth ministry book cover
​Published by Intervarsity Press

Mark DeVries' latest book is unlike most youth ministry books, writes Dave Fuller.

Mark DeVries first came to my attention several years ago with his book, 'Family Based Youth Ministry.' At the time his book was a welcome reminder that the fundamental responsibility for discipling teenagers from Church homes was their parents. The task and role of youth ministry and the broader Church family was in the support of Christian parents and the provision of a network of adult mentors and a community of peers for their youth. Mark comes with 20 years experience as the Youth Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, USA.

"Youth ministries overall suffer from Chronic Underinvestment and need to move beyond quick fix solutions (they don't exist), a youth ministry superstar (occasionally they emerge) to an approach based on sustainable systems and structures."

His latest offering is unlike most youth ministry books. This one is written, on the whole, for Senior Pastors, Vicars, Elderships and Vestries and all who lead congregations of God's people. This should not put off any youth ministry practitioners as it also contains excellent material for current Church based youth ministers and volunteers and is one of the best books I have read on ministry sustainability.

DeFries asserts early with a gambling metaphor that most Churches 'punt' on some 'gun' youth minister being appointed and as a consequence a growing, happy youth group and their happy parents is produced! This rarely occurs and the result is a hurt youth minister who may never return to ministry, a wounded and despondent youth group, frustrated parents and an angry Church leadership. His alarm at the tragic and unnecessary failure of so many youth ministers and youth ministries prompted him and some friends to form a support ministry called Youth Ministry Architects (see www.ymarchitects.com which is a vey helpful website)

He says that youth ministries overall suffer from Chronic Underinvestment and need to move beyond quick fix solutions (they don't exist), a youth ministry superstar (occasionally they emerge) to an approach based on sustainable systems and structures. DeFries offers practical advice to Church search teams on seeking out a youth minister and how to set up a support system around that minister.

The last third of the book is focused on the youth minister. How they maintain a right heart and grow as a Godly person. How they go about recruiting and holding volunteers and shaping a culture that engages young people. How they negotiate 'Church politics' and learn the art of getting issues put through the leadership channels of their churches. How they sustain a trusting relationship with the Churches senior minister.

I have read a lot of youth ministry books over the years and this one is up there as a must read.' A must read for Church leaders and particularly those contemplating an addition to their staff team. A must read for vestries and lay leadership teams. A must read for youth ministers. May I also recommend the youth ministry architects website, noted above.