group magazine: July-August, 2012
THE STORY: FINDING YOUR PLACE IN THE STORY OF GOD
WHAT IT IS: A DVD curriculum, written by Michael Novelli, that helps teenagers discover how scripture’s story intersects with their life stories.
THE SCOOP: Zondervan is launching The Story—the Bible condensed into 31 chapters that move chronologically through the Bible, like a novel. This curriculum includes 31 video lessons that coincide with each chapter of The Story. There are video sessions, reproducible teacher’s guides, and reproducible student handouts. The idea is that each teenager should have his or her own copy of the Teen Edition of The Story.
The videos alternate between “simple” marker-on-whiteboard drawings, and more elaborate paint-on-a-wall stories. They’re well-told and compelling, I just wish they’d used more mediums. What would it have looked like to have 31 stories told in 31 different ways? But this is a great resource for telling the story of the Bible in a new and interesting way.
AVAILABLE FROM: Zondervan/zondervan.com
Reviewer: Scott Firestone IV has 14 years of youth ministry experience.
MISSIONAL YOUTH MINISTRY
WHAT IT IS: A book by Brian Kirk and Jacob Tome about moving from gathering teenagers to scattering disciples.
THE SCOOP: Most youth pastors want their teenagers to go deep in their faith, but we often have no idea what that means or how to actually get there. The authors do a great job of trying to help youth pastors think beyond the pizza and games that many youth ministries live on. These bloggers describe what a deeper youth ministry looks like, with chapters on Purposeful Planning, Why You Don’t Need Volunteers, and The End of Educational Ministry. The second chapter lays out some foundations for a missional youth ministry—pieces that many ministries are missing. Kirk and Tome integrate posts from their blog that highlight their interaction with the youth ministry world. One thing I wish they would’ve included more of was how this missional youth ministry worked within the local church. But I’m thrilled to see a book like this.
AVAILABLE FROM: Zondervan/zondervan.com
Reviewer: Roy Probus, Jr. has 10 years of youth ministry experience.
WHAT IT IS: A four-week small group curriculum on sex and purity—and God’s design for them.
THE SCOOP: Teenagers are talking about sex—unfortunately the majority of them are not talking about “Pure Sex.” Most don’t understand God’s design for purity and sex in the context of marriage.
Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch.com, and Cris Clap Logan, national writer and speaker on sex and purity, developed this study to help youth workers open up conversations about purity, pornography, masturbation, physical boundaries, and more. The videos, which start with a poem delivered by poet Levi Macallister, get the conversation rolling. The conversation guide then guides the youth worker to have real, open, and honest conversations with their small group. During the videos Craig and Cris often reference quotes from scripture, but do not read the whole passage from the Bible. So it’s key to read the provided passage before showing the videos.
AVAILABLE FROM: Simply Youth Ministry; simplyyouthministry.com
Reviewer: Jeremiah Isley has 8 years of youth ministry experience.
99 THOUGHTS ON JESUS-CENTERED LIVING
WHAT IT IS: A new book by GROUP editor Rick Lawrence in the 99 Thoughts line, focusing on Jesus.
THE SCOOP: 99 Thoughts on Jesus-Centered Living by Rick Lawrence is a collection of practical methods for drawing closer to Jesus. This book challenges young people to search for the true Jesus as described in the Bible. The whole premise of the book is to shift Jesus toward the center of your life spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I loved how simple, yet deep, each thought was. Lawrence has skillfully included stories from history, friends, and personal experience that made this book more personal and relatable. The book is strong in biblical references and straight-up biblical truths. Even though it’s for teenagers I found myself taking notes, and applying what I had read in my own life. One thing that could’ve made the book better is a section for journaling in the back to write down revelations, prayers, or insights. I would recommend this book to all ages—but especially teenagers seeking to know Jesus, as opposed to knowing about Jesus.
AVAILABLE FROM: Simply Youth Ministry, simplyyouthministry.com
Reviewer: Laura Hannah has 4 years of youth ministry experience.
QUICK PICKS //buzz
THE ORPHANED GENERATION
Author Scott Wilcher has a great desire for the church to turn its heart toward young people. His book offers practical advice for connecting youth and young adults into the larger body, and why it’s so important.
AVAILABLE FROM: Amazon.com
Author Joel Clark chronicles God-at-work in the lives of people across the globe. What’s unique about this book is that it’s full of QR codes that bring the videos and photos of these stories right to you.
AVAILABLE FROM: Zondervan; zondervan.com
IN THE WORLD...
Reviews on new and newly discovered resources for you, the youth worker.
by Scott Firestone IV
I don’t exactly know how to describe this band. Appalachian hip-hop? Folk-hop? All I know is I can’t stop listening. Piercing and insightful and beautiful lyrics; “Seatbelt Hands” brought me to tears the first time I heard it.
Xbox Live Arcade
The platformer genre is one of the oldest in video games, so it’s great to see so much innovation coming out of it. This is a pure exploration/puzzle game, where you can rotate the environment to find new paths and secrets. $10 well spent…
SPACE FOR GOD
By Don Postema
Using the writings of people such as Henri Nouwen, Madeleine L’Engle, and Thomas Merton, and paintings by Rembrandt and Van Gogh, author Don Postema provides a unique way of interacting with God.
Check out Scott’s One Minute review on groupmagazine.com
ONE RESOURCE IN-DEPTH
by Jeff Dunn-Rankin
FALLING UPWARD: A SPIRITUALITY FOR THE TWO HALVES OF LIFE
by Richard Rohr
Aging youth pastors are having secret conversations with each other. They’re asking, “Do we have any business doing a job that has the word ‘youth’ in it?” and “When will we be too old for this ministry?”
Richard Rohr says our culture’s impossible addiction to “staying young” robs individuals—and therefore communities—of the richness that the second half of life can offer. “The first half of life is no more than finding the starting gate,” Rohr writes in Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Why would we want to stay in that stage?
Our early life, he says, is all about establishing our personal identity and figuring out what we’re good at. It’s about seeking security, position, and a way to change our world. Those are essential and appropriate concerns for the first 30 to 40 years of our lives, says this Franciscan priest, but they do not serve us well as we mature.
In our later years, we strive less and accomplish more. We want less and enjoy more. God offers a deeper life in the second half of life if we allow ourselves to make that transition.
Rohr warns that the transition into the second half of life is not something we can orchestrate. It almost always comes through unexpected but necessary suffering. As we see in so many stories, the hero’s resistance to deep transformation is so strong that only a disorienting tumble—getting fired, losing a battle, losing a friend—can cause us to discover who we really are.
When we finally recognize that both the falling and the rising are a gift from God, we begin to taste the fruits of the second half of life. We discover that in our catastrophes, there is a trampoline effect that allows us to fall upward. “No falling is final, but actually contributes to the bounce,” Rohr writes.
We have a lot to look forward to as an Elder who still does youth ministry. Imagine how transformative it would be to partner these “second half” benefits with the high energy, restlessness, and ambition of a person in the first half of their journey.
• In the “further journey,” we become a “generative” person, one who is eager to generate life from his or her own abundance and for the benefit of following generations. “Ironically, we are more than ever before in a position to change people—but we do not need to—and that makes all the difference.”
• Creating drama becomes boring. We are less hung up about what is “our share” and more interested in what is true. We also develop a clearer sense of who we really are. “This will keep you from taking either insults or praise too seriously.”
• We have learned and obeyed the rules well—so well, in fact, that we know how to break them properly. The Pharisees, one might argue, had learned to do the first half of life so well that they couldn’t fathom Jesus’ willingness to heal on the Sabbath.
• We discover a growing ability to “adjust to human disorder and failure”—including our own. We come to realize that holier-than-thou people usually end up holier than nobody. “If you have forgiven yourself for being imperfect and falling, you can now do it for just about everybody else.”
If Rohr were invited into the private conversations of aging youth pastors, it appears he might offer this advice: Stay in the game, but don’t pretend to be 30. Youth ministry needs more Elders, not fewer.
Jeff is a youth pastor and senior consultant for Youth Ministry Architects. He also co-authored The Indispensable Youth Pastor with Mark DeVries (Group/Simply Youth Ministry).
Jesus Music: The Followers, Josh Garrels