Doug Fields is a former youth pastor from Saddleback Church and got super famous in the youth ministry world with his publication of Purpose Driven Youth Ministry, which applies Rick Warren’s strategies to a youth ministry setting. His less famous but just as significant second book is, Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: a Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right. It’s the absolute best book out on starting well in ministry, setting a foundation for a long and effective ministry life and avoiding some really common traps that rookies can fall into.
This book was super helpful for me when I was young in ministry, and it has been my go-to text form helping those who are brand new to youth ministry. This fall, I read it with another guy who was brand new, but not youth ministry. It was almost fully applicable, but it made me wish I knew of a book like this for rookies in other ministry areas.
The book is also great because it doesn’t assume that all youth ministers are paid vocational pastors. It has a lot of material for volunteers to grow from and learn in. It could also be helpful for those who supervise youth workers, to help them succeed early and have great influence for the gospel.
Here’s some highlights:
- p.82, “Too often, youth workers are seduced by the lure of designing an attractive program. They admire the creativity it offers, the potential it produces, the challenge it brings, the wows expressed from observing youth workers – and then they forget the reason for the program.”
- p.176, “Sit down with your pastor and agree on goals for your first month, first quarter, and first year. Ask him to write an endorsement letter on your behalf and send it to the existing volunteer team. Your pastor’s credibility and stamp of approval enhances your authority.”
- p.186, “If you’ve got some time-conscious potential volunteers, offer options to serve within varied amounts of time. Draft a list of ways volunteers might meaningfully contribute if they served 30 minutes a week, two hours a week, or five hours a week.”
- p.240 (contributed by Tony Campolo), “It’s important to note that the early church often prayed itself into harmony (Acts 5:12, 15:25) before making decisions.”
Tullian Tchividjian is a pastor at Coral Ridge Church in Florida, grandson to Billy Graham and owner of the highest scoring last name in Scrabble. He does a lot of other stuff as well, like adjunct professing and editing for Christianity Today. He’s connected and has opportunities because of who he is – but his honesty and integrity show how God is leading his life, as opposed to him being handed everything. Also, I had read articles and interviews with him in the past about a church split or something like that at his church and he seemed to give no spin at all. I wasn’t surprised that people at a church failed to get along – I was surprised that the pastor didn’t throw blame around or become defensive.
I read an excerpt from this book in CT magazine and was amazed, not by the writing or by the ideas, but by the choice of excerpt. The small passage was actually about past serious failings in Tchividjian’s own life and how it affected those around him. Even after a rebellious period in his life and his return to the faith – he shares his imperfections, his sin and it’s affect on his life and those around him. I adore authors and pastors who are willing to be honest and vulnerable, It is as daring as it gets. I think it’s easy to be sarcastic, critical or even offensive – but to be honest about one’s imperfections is the most daring.
So this book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World became an easy choice for next on my reading shelf. Tchividjian applies the simple definition of grace as being love in one direction, with no expectation on any return. This is grace on both ends – both the lover and the loved. One must intentionally give grace and the other must intentionally receive such grace; grace rejected is grace destroyed. He shares great stories of grace he has received in his life and times when he gave grace – without making himself out to be a hero. He also addresses common objections to grace (like antinomianism – which he was accused of promoting when people were splitting the church he leads) and gives insightful responses.
This book was unique because it is challenging and encouraging. It shows me where I am not, without the standard “work harder to be a better christian” rhetoric. I’ll definitely be giving away copies of this one.