A Beautiful Mess: What’s Right About Youth Ministry (FREE!)

hey, i have an idea: how about i run a big ol’ blog contest where the winner gets a FREE copy of my brand-new book, A Beautiful Mess: What’s Right About Youth Ministry?

but, here’s the catch: you don’t have to do anything, you don’t have to enter, and everyone’s a winner!

i am quite pleased that the creative minds at simply youth ministry suggested we give away my book for two weeks (the downloadable versions). after these two weeks, it’ll cost you a few bucks, and you can also order a physical copy if you want. but for now, you can FREELY download a packet with a pdf, a .epub file for ipad, and a .mobi file for kindle.

how much does that rock? well, quite a bit of rockage, thank you very much.

here’s the skinny on the book: i was starting to sense a weariness in the youth workers i connect with, due to the barrage of “bad news” coming from people like me, as well as the research and books that have been telling us, in a sense, that we’re failing at our calling. i was stirred by a poignant moment i had at an event last year, where i felt i was complicating things, and stopped to try to encourage the good and faithful youth workers in that room (read that experience here, which shows up in the book also).

so, when SYM was asking me for book ideas, i suggested i write something about what’s going well in youth ministry.

at one point the book was called The Glass Half-Full — and that’s really the point of it. sure, there are some problems in youth ministry, and we can’t stick our heads in the sand. but there’s also lots of really wonderful stuff happening in churches all over the place. AND, the subtle notion that fixing what’s broken is completely within our power is, honestly, a bit arrogant and messiah-like.

so, that was the nexus of this baby. it’s not long — a quick read at about 10,000 words. easy, peasy.

here’s the back cover copy someone at SYM created (which summarizes the book very well):

When you think about the state of youth ministry today, are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you cheer or fear? Is the glass half full or half empty? In this honest, frank, blunt examination, veteran youth worker Mark Oestreicher offers a fresh perspective on what’s working in youth ministry today—and discovers that perhaps things aren’t as broken as some of us might have thought.

Theologically and anecdotally, we can uncover plenty of encouraging signs in the realm of youth ministry, according to Oestreicher, whose youth ministry experience includes time as an in-the-trenches youth worker and as a publisher of youth ministry books and resources. A Beautiful Mess features insights on the issues and opportunities facing youth workers, including the trend toward longevity in ministry, the power of smaller churches, the work of the Holy Spirit, the rewards of authentic relational ministry, the need for integration instead of isolation, and the centrality of faith and humility.

This book will help you experience the freedom of your calling, rather than the stress of expectations. You’ll discover an abundance of reasons to remain optimistic, intentional, and faithful as you engage in the lives of today’s teenagers.

so, get to it. download your free copy here!

6 thoughts on “A Beautiful Mess: What’s Right About Youth Ministry (FREE!)”

  1. thanks for writing it
    looking forward to reading it
    love this craziness called youth ministry

  2. thoughts so far:
    love the title (and the optimism)
    chapter 1
    – “There’s a subtle arrogance in thinking we’ve blown it.” p.6
    – “…the gorgeous value of patience. The mundane way of steadfastness. The unflashy path of consistency…God often uses the most impropable and unskilled to do his most amazing work.” p.7
    we love being hip and trendy and techy, perhaps a curse of being the old people hanging out with the young people but like a marriage that lasts 50-75 years, steadfastness is so valuable and the mundane moments matter as much and sometimes more than the outlandish celebrations (though both are important)

    love the story about Tim and Sam…how many times does God use us that way and we never know it

    questions on p.12 are great questions to ponder

    p.14 “I’m in the transformation hosting business”…”My role as a youth worker is to be the evangelist FOR teenagers in my church.”

    two slight disagreements on p.17:
    – hired clergy is in scripture (in OT, the priests; in NT the apostles and Paul even seems to defend the case at several points); it’s at least alluded to
    – someday I’m going to make write an essay on the biblical case for adolescense (someone feel free to beat me to it). Yes, we’re expanding it way too far BUT it exists in a much shorter version (say 13-18 kinda like JH and HS) through history and in scripture and you can see it in two things at least…1) though 13 made you a man, you typically didn’t marry until later like 16-20 (guys only, girls is a whole different historical matter), 2) apprenticeship…typically it was the teen years, yes a man but a man in training so you didn’t fight in a war, typically until 16-20 again, Levites couldn’t officially serve until 20, etc.
    adolescence (at least for males) is there just vastly different and significantly shorter

    p.18 BOTH…so often we like our extremes, either or and forget that perhaps there’s a both answer

    p.23 and 24! the youth ministry magic formula (so good)!

    I’ll read some more later but I have to go prep for College, Sunday School and preaching…may God make it “freakin’ awesome”

  3. I’ll try to keep this one shorter but chapter two caused a piece of dust to land in my left eye (might have teared up a touch but I’m sticking with dust), gave me chills and stopped me cold:

    p.30 adults in the back…ouch, I hate it when that’s true and yet, so easy to drift to

    p.35,36 Michael’s story…is it getting dusty again? hurts so much when they walk away, so awesome when I hear they’ve walked back a decade later (and it never matters if it’s my church or the one up the road)…definitely sharing this story a couple times this week

    p.38 CHILLS – “I care that a teenager is actively engaged in her faith today – and even if she walks away from it, I trust that God is going to continue working in her life.” and “their stories and their journeys are not mine to control”

    p.42 stopped me cold…smaller churches, thank God…midsized or larger churches, watch out

  4. finished 3 & 4 (and i’ll let you have your blog back now)
    thanks for pointing out the optism and great last sentence:

    “and the water in that more than half-full glass? It’s the Living Water – and drinking it, you will never thirst again.”

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