Category Archives: youth work

books read in the last few weeks

everything is illuminated, by jonathan safran foer. i’d read foer’s second book, extremely loud and incredibly close, and thought it was beyond fantastic. a friend had raved about this one, so i thought i’d give it a turn (a page turn, that is!). really, foer is an exceptionally creative writer. when i’m reading his books, i regularly stop to ask, “how did he come up with this?” jewish history, ukranian history, fantasy, wise-cracking but earnest teenage translator, pain and loss, farting dogs, pretention and honesty, and, wow — this book covers a lot of territory. i can’t visualize how they made it into a movie (starring elijah wood), but i’ll have to rent it and see. highly, highly recommended for readers of creative fiction.

v for vendetta, by alan moore and david lloyd. this is the illustrated book that spawned the movie. originally written as four comic books, it’s been re-released as one fairly long graphic novel. i enjoyed the read — but this is a rare case where i liked the movie better than the book (which is interesting, because the author of the book sued the wachowski brothers to have his name removed from the movie after he didn’t like the differences). the book dragged along for me at points — which is hard to do with an illustrated book! and the illustration style left me cold. i guess — for me — the characters in the movie were more believable; and the same characters in the book were a bit — well — two-dimensional (and i’m not only talking about the fact that they lay in two dimensions on the page!).

presence-centered youth ministry, by mike king. mike’s book doesn’t come out until october of this year, but i was asked to read it and write an endorsement. it’s a great book. more than once i found myself chuckling with a low laugh, thinking, “wow, i can’t believe you had the guts to say THAT in a book, and that the publisher had the guts to leave it in!” this book will beautifully and gloriously get mike black-listed from the few most-conservative church circles where he hasn’t already been banned. i actually enjoyed the first half of the book better (the stomping-mad, name-calling, saying it like it is, call to change 1/2 of the book). but i expect many in-the-trenches youth workers will find the second half (the practical stuff of moving toward spiritual formation in youth ministry) more helpful. mike actually proposed this book to ys — and we ONLY passed because we already had mark yaconelli’s book, contemplative youth ministry, in development, and there is a lot of similarity in the two books. but i’m glad mike’s book is seeing the light of day — and very soon!

reaching teens in their natural habitat, by danny holland. this book releases in august, and i was asked to read it and write an endorsement. (btw, did you know it’s common practice for endorsers to not even read the book they endorse? did you know it’s common practice for publishers, or assistants to the author, to draft the endorsement on behalf of the endorser, and they only have to agree to it or tweak it? i find this practice hideous — especially in the christian bookselling world. ys does NOT do this. and i will never, personally, write an endorsement for a book i didn’t read.) so… i’m not writing an endorsement for this book, and i DID read it. it’s not a terrible book, by any stretch of the imagination. i just found it to be less than “endorse-able”.

two fantastic sources of timely info

thanks to stephen at faithmaps/emergesque blog for compiling two incredible resources:

this massive (and constantly evolving) list of links for resources and articles and opinions about the divinci code.


this massive (and constantly evolving) list of links for resources and articles and opinions about the gospel of judas.

such helpful tools for youth workers and ministers of all sorts — shoot, and thinking christians of all sorts.

good readin’ at the riddle blog

my friend mark riddle is posting a series on re-thinking youth ministry, gleaning from the discussions and guest speakers for the etrek course he just finished hosting on youth ministry. three parts so far — more to come. good reading for all youth workers, and emerging church peeps.

part 1
part 2
part 3

you’ll have to return to his blog for the further installments.

this is 6th grade guys

location: 6th grade guys small group, this past wednesday night

highlight: we showed a short film clip of people tripping and falling (lots of laughs!), and shared our own embarassing stories of tripping and falling in front of people. then i floated a question i wanted them to think about, but assumed none could actually answer: “how do you think this could be an analogy…” (“what’s an analogy?”) “it’s when something is like something else…” (“i thought that was a simile”) “yes, you’re right, it’s a simile when you say something is like something else; an analogy is more like a story or picture or idea that can also mean something else…” (“ok”) “so… how could this video be an analogy for our spiritual lives?” shane started ooh-oohing. then he nailed it: “it’s like, when we stumble and do stuff we shouldn’t do — like, sin — especially when we do that in front of other people.” i just sat there with my mouth hanging open, before high-fiving him.

lowlight: it was the gassiest night of small group in the history of 6th grade boys small groups. seriously, the farting got so out of control — especially one kid who gave us the dry-heaves about four times — that our little underventilated and hot room could have gone up in a burst of flames if anyone had created a spark. i found the mom of the rankest kid afterward and begged her: “whatever you fed him for dinner tonite, please — i beg of you — never feed that to him on a wednesday evening again.”

comtemplative youth ministry

very nice book review today on jonny baker’s blog, of mark yaconelli’s new book, contemplative youth ministry.

we (ys) developed the book with mark, and are publishing it for the non-uk world, with the official release in may (but could be in stores and otherwise available sometime in april). but mark signed a uk deal with spck (which is the version jonny reviewed — the only differences would be minor language choices: aluminum and aluminium, you know). you can download a PDF of the first chapter here, free.

also connected to the release of this book, there are six FREE events with mark — in minneapolis, chicago, san francisco, denver, nashville and los angeles. each of these is a one-evening-plus-the-next-day event. on the first evening, mark will talk about the concepts in the book. and the following day is a mini spiritual retreat for youth workers, or anyone else who wants to attend (along the lines of the sabbath events we used to offer in partnership with mark). more info on those free events here.

more youth ministry challenge

lots of good challenges and questions and rants this week about the state of youth ministry. ooh — all this gets me excited, because tough questions and complex problems are usually the impetus to substantive change (in our lives, in our thinking, in our systems, in our programs, in our models and assumptions and metrix and…).

so i enjoyed reading seth barnes’ post. seth is the founder and exec director of adventures in missions (really, the short-term missions org i trust more than any other — though they think of themselves more as a discipling ministry than a short-term missions ministry these days). he’s got a freakin’ brilliant and inquisitive mind. if you have any interest in thinking about discipleship (or practicing it!), you need to read his blog.