99 thoughts for youth workers

I’ve very kindly be sent a preview copy of 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers: Random Insightful Tips for Anyone in Youth Ministry by Josh Griffin.  Josh works at Saddleback Church, is part of my family of youth workers that I listen to over at the Doug Field’s Simply Youth Ministry podcast and is a youth work blogging genius.

It was super-easy to read, I love Josh’s chatty and humorous writing style and the way it is broken down into such small chunks – you’re normally only reading a few paragraphs for each concept.  I got some funny looks when I laughed out loud to thoughts 49-55: 7 Signs you might count like a Senior Pastor.

The book has a real blend of youth work – the highs, the lows, the leadership, the programs and people, the groups and events, and the fun of everyday ministry.  Throughout 99 Thoughts Josh’s clear heart first and foremost for the church, and second for youth work is so clear.  For example, thought 7 on p. 3: Be the first to be flexible, and thought 26 on p. 12: Ask how you can pitch in.

I have often gone back to 5 Things a Youth Worker Has to do Every Day and  5 More Things a Youth Worker Has to do Every Day on Josh’s blog so it was great to see that they were in the book.  I love his compassion for me and other youth workers – to see us living it out for God, and therefore our ministry being stronger.

I believe that you could hand this book to any youth worker and they’d find something that clicks with them, and where they are at.  Here are some things that clicked with me as I read the book through:

  • For me  I feel determined to act on thoughts 30-33 on reducing the noise that is coming in to my inbox. 
  • As a youth team we’ve been looking at learning styles and how it can’t all be about a 20-30 minute message on a Sunday, but we want it to be more participative – so Josh’s thoughts on Everything is the Message (thoughts 41-44) is where we’re at.
  • We’ve used Josh’s thoughts on young people sharing their testimony as we’ve prepared young people for their baptism, so again 4 thoughts (62-65) I can personally vouch for.
  • We’re just starting a scheme for Ministry Apprentices (Interns) so hearing some of what Saddleback do for their summer interns (Thoughts 102-105) is always helpful.

A few little gripes, I’m probably thick, but I didn’t get the title, it’s called 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers, and yet it contains 113 different thoughts.  I’m certainly not complaining about having the extra fourteen thoughts, but I’m not sure how the title makes sense.  There were a couple of times were the introduction to a series of posts ended up on the bottom of a right hand page and the rest of the thoughts were on the next page, for example 4 Inputs I’m Reducing on p. 13, would have been easier to the eye if it was on p. 14 with the content that it introduces – a very picky thing I know. 

Again I didn’t quite get why 5 Skills your next youth pastor must have (Thoughts 106-110) was in a book which seems very focused on youth ministers, especially given the book was small I would have preferred to see more stuff on networking and training.

My question is when is Volume Two coming out, and is there any way you can blend in some other voices and contexts to get more breadth.  What Josh says is great, but is very clearly from the context of a super-large American church, youth worker who is married with a family,so for example we don’t have team in the same way to debrief after a weekend (p. 21).  So for volume two let’s have some different voices from around the world, in different family situations, denominations and sizes etc.  Please do continue these thoughts – maybe an annual edition?!?!?

My end point has to be, I love it, it is certainly a book I’ll be dipping in and out of, and one we’ll be giving all our Ministry Apprentices in September.  Go buy the book from Simply Youth Ministry, and if you don’t already, check out Josh’s blog with many, many more thoughts and tips over at morethandodgeball.com

Married to the amazing Sarah and raising Jakey, Daniel, Amelia, Josh & Jonah in our blended family. Passionate for Jesus, social work & sport.

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