Tag Archives: scot mcknight

2 Sentence Book Reviews: Christian Nonfiction

i’m overdue for some book reviews, and will be posting reviews of 23 books this week. as i’ve done in the past, i’m posting two sentence book reviews. in each case, the first sentence is a summary of the book; and the second sentence is my thoughts on the book. i include a 1 – 5 star rating also. and occasionally, i’ll have an additional note.

today we wrap things up with two christian nonfiction books. in both of these cases, i wrote official endorsements; i’ll forego my normal two-sentence reviews for the endoresments:

fellowship of differentsA Fellowship of Differents: Showing the World God’s Design for Life Together, by Scot McKnight
5 stars
*note: this book releases on february 24
my official endorsement:
One of my life values is that uniqueness is better than conformity, firmly believing (though I realize this is strong) that conformity only leads to death. This isn’t merely a selfish value, reflective of my undeniable quirks and general non-compliance. Instead, my work with church leaders shows me, over and over again, that healthy thriving churches are not only places of diversity, but they love that about themselves. A Fellowship of Differents will feel like a commendation to churches who already live in this tension, and like a loving and prophetic intervention for those who wrongly worship the god of sameness. Scot brings us story and biblical teaching about who we–the church–can be, at our very best.

Magnificent Mark: Unlock Your Awesomeness and Make Your Teenage Years Remarkable, by Danny Ray
4 stars
*note: this book releases in april
my official endorsement:
My favorite Bible verse in John 10:10, where Jesus tells us that he came “that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That fullness of life–what I long for–is a life available to teenagers. Jesus didn’t come to give us a life of drudgery or rules or religious performance. Magnificent Mark points readers to that full life, a life of purpose and passion, adventure and meaning.
magnificent mark

2 sentence book reviews, part 4

it’s a crazy week for me — a few days in colorado for an event at group publishing, and a few days in the san bernardino mountains with my family and another family. so, i think it’s time to post a week of 2 sentence book reviews!

i’ve got 44 lines for 22 books. the first sentence of each review is a summary, and the second sentence is my opinion. hope you appreciate the brevity!

part 1: five general fiction books
part 2: three general non-fiction and two young adult fiction books
part 3: four illustrated books or graphic novels and one humor book
part 4: four christian living books and three theology and ministry books

Christian Living

Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life, by Jeff Goins
5 stars
Acknowledging and unpacking the painful, necessary, and re-orienting process of having your life up-ended for a greater cause. The next book you should read.

My official endorsement: Wrecked fulfills two rare deliverables: it messes with you (in a good way), and introduces you to the fantastic writing of a new author you’ll certainly be hearing more from.

Kingdom Journeys: Rediscovering the Lost Spiritual Discipline, by Seth Barnes
5 stars
Filled with well-told, powerful stories, Barnes convincingly proposes the process of having a Kingdom of God vision sparked in your heart and mind. Required reading for anyone who wants to change the world, or who works with people who might.

My official endorsement: Two things really set this book apart: first, Seth has something new to say, something important and insightful about faith development (and, particularly, about the faith development of young adults); second, Seth makes reading the book a wonderful adventure with the inclusion of dozens of captivating true stories. Youth workers, pastors, parents, and young adults themselves need to read this book.

Note: Barnes is presenting on this topic at The Summit.

Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus, by Rick Lawrence
5 stars
an unpacking of jesus’ instructions to be as shrewd as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. amazing and insightful book — SO worth the read (i’ll be recommending this in my coaching programs).

Living With Less: An Unexpected Key to Happiness, by Joshua Becker
5 stars
A practical book for teenagers who want to live simply. Accessible and compelling, Becker’s clearly knows what he writes about.

My official endorsement: What I really love about Joshua’s book (and why I will be recommending it to teenagers, parents, and youth workers) is that he so clearly describes a compelling way of living. Today’s teenagers are pitched this and that all day long; but rarely are they exposed to a truly compelling and contemporary way of living that is somehow both counter-intuitive and so obviously biblical.

Theology and Ministry

Junia Is Not Alone, by Scot McKnight
5 stars
A brief but powerful unmasking of both the significant female leaders of the Bible, as well as the mistranslation that has obscured them for centuries. Anyone who has ever wondered (or maybe even more importantly, anyone who hasn’t wondered) what the Bible says about women in leadership must read this quick book.

The Zambia Project: The Story of Two Worlds Flipped Upside Down, by Chip Huber
5 stars
The autobiographical story of a school chaplain and his teenagers whose passion for impacting the world was sparked, resulting in significantly altered lives in two communities – one in suburban Chicago, and one in a tiny Zambian village. So much better than most self-published books, this is a great read for youth workers, mission leaders, and anyone with a Kingdom dream of changing the world.

My official endorsement: Narratives have within them a powerful ability to stir our thinking, shape our outlook, and awaken our imaginations. The Zambia Project is a fantastic example of that reality, with gorgeous implications for youth workers, educators, parents, and development workers. When you read Chip’s book, you can’t help but think, “Well, clearly, God moved in that situation.” But the thing is: God wants to move in and through you also.

With Open Hands, by Henri J. M. Nouwen
5 stars
Nouwen’s classic book is a simple insight into prayer. Understandably dated at points, it still provides a deep cleansing breath, and a metaphor that will shape my own prayer life for years to come.

seismos 2011

last year, i had a blast leading the dialogue at a small event for youth workers called seismos. a youth worker (and blogger) in canton, ohio, named joel daniel harris, puts this event together as a labor of love. in 2011, joel daniel is hosting two seismos events.

the “north” location (march 28-30, in lakeville, oh) will feature theologian and uber-blogger scot mcknight. i’ve had scot as a guest for a similar event years ago, and know that the discussion will be rich and valuable. here’s the description:

Envisioning a Theologically Responsible Youth Ministry
facilitated by Scot McKnight & Joel Daniel Harris
For our North gathering in 2011, we’ll be exploring with Scot what it looks like to have a youth ministry that balances both orthodoxy and orthopraxy well…that is to have grounded beliefs behind the actions that we take and to teach in such a way that leads to action. With many students today graduating out of our youth ministry and quickly leaving their faith, we’ll be taking a closer look at what we teach and why it doesn’t seem to stick. What about our practices may need to change?

and i’ll be hosting the dialogue at the “south” location (may 9-11, in weaverville, nc). joel daniel has asked me to focus on the same subject we addressed at the north event last year:

Adolescent Brain Development
facilitated by Mark Oestreicher & Joel Daniel Harris
In the last 20 years researchers have been able to explore and understand the brain in ways never before considered. This has led to an explosive amount of knowledge that is worthy of consideration as youth pastors as to how these developments should affect the way that we design and practice youth ministry. It also raises questions of our responsibility to act as responders to or shapers of adolescent culture. Sure to be an enthralling and challenging conversation, come prepared with your thinking caps!

here’s what’s cool about seismos:
1. it’s a dialogue. scot and i won’t be presenting hours and hours of seminar content. we’ll be facilitating a discussion.
2. it’s small. each event is limited to 40 people. so everyone’s voice is heard and the conversation is intimate.
3. it’s cheap. less than a hundred bucks for reg, lodging and meals.

the early bird deadline for both events is this saturday (jan 15). but even if you can’t make your decision that fast, it’s still cheap. and i strongly encourage you to check it out. everything you need is on the seismos 2011 website.

bonhoeffer & mcknight: twins separated at birth?

from time to time, my friend (and uber-blogger) scot mcknight posts something-or-other about theologian dietrich bonhoeffer. and whenever he does, he includes a little pic of “the ‘hoeff”. and every time i see that thing, i have this thought, “man, that pic looks like it could be an old photo of scot himself!”

so, in the spirit of my old post that suggested david crowder and cornell west are either twins separated at birth, or a secret father/son sort of thing, i now present my fairly conclusive, exhaustive photo research to prove, once and for all, that scot and dietrich are, in fact, either twins separated at birth (in some cosmic time-warpy way that i can’t quite yet explain, though i suspect quantum physics has something to do with it), so at least genetically linked:

scot mcknight on ym3.0, part 3

i’m so stoked that uber-blogger and brilliant theological mind, scot mcknight, has chosen to post a three-part review/discussion of youth ministry 3.0. what a huge honor. i’ve been deeply impacted by scot’s books, his blog (jesus creed), his talks, and his friendship.

here’s part 3 of his three-parter. there’s great discussion on his blog, by a wider slice of church leadership types that i tend to have here on ysmarko (so it’s really worth clicking over and reading the comments). you can see my response to his blog question there also.


So, what can we do? Marko, in his new book, Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go , has a bundle of suggestions and I want to discuss a few of them today.

What do you think? Are any of you in YM 3.0? What are you seeing? What are your suggestions?

If the focus is affinity and we need to move more into communion and mission, what will 3.0 youth ministries look like?

We may need to develop multiple youth ministries within the same church to speak into multiple youth cultures.

We may need one youth ministry with a dream of supra-culture, kingdom of God culture.

Or a hybrid of the two. He makes several proposals, like one group for some stuff and smaller groups for other things.

We may need to cut programs; we may need to get small; provide opportunities for youth to experience God. We need to be “communional.” It is small, slow, simple, fluid, present, and Jesus-y.

We need to focus on integrating teenagers with the church. And we need to be more missional.

scot mcknight on ym3.0, part 2

i’m so stoked that uber-blogger and brilliant theological mind, scot mcknight, has chosen to post a three-part review/discussion of youth ministry 3.0. what a huge honor. i’ve been deeply impacted by scot’s books, his blog (jesus creed), his talks, and his friendship.

here’s part 2 of his three-parter. there’s great discussion on his blog, by a wider slice of church leadership types that i tend to have here on ysmarko (so it’s really worth clicking over and reading the comments). you can see my response to his blog question there also.


We need to develop an ongoing conversation about youth ministry. Marko’s book provides for us a virtual history of youth ministry in the last 50+ years and does so clearly and simply. We need this book. (By the way, “Marko” on the cover is a mock cover I found online.)

As you read this post, think about whether or not you agree with his 3-fold scheme. Maybe you don’t agree with it all, but in general. What do you think of his 3.0 proposals?

Here are the characteristics of Youth Ministry 1.0 according to Marko’s new book, Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go :

The 50s gave rise to a youth culture and this led to ministries like Youth for Christ and Young Life. The major emphases were on two things:



Youth ministry 1.0 was proclamation-driven. It was fixated on identity formation and a theme verse would have been Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter through the narrow gate …”.

Youth Ministry 2.0 focused on autonomy (youth culture had confidence now) and discipleship programs and creating a positive peer group. 2.0 was not so much proclamation as program-driven. A theme verse was Matthew 28:19-20a: make disciples and teach them.

Youth Ministry 3.0, call it a “third way,” realizes it cannot meet this generation’s needs with a 2.0 set of assumptions and methods. Youth culture has become the dominant culture in our world. And it is powerfully fragmented. It gives rise to the need for affinity groups. He says we need cultural anthropologists with relational passion. The themes are



Big idea for Marko: if 1.0 was proclamation-driven and 2.0 was program-driven, 3.0 needs to be not-driven. It wants to be Present. Marko thinks some prototypical Bible verses will be Acts 2:42-46.

scot mcknight on ym3.0, part 1

i’m so stoked that uber-blogger and brilliant theological mind, scot mcknight, has chosen to post a three-part review/discussion of youth ministry 3.0. what a huge honor. i’ve been deeply impacted by scot’s books, his blog (jesus creed), his talks, and his friendship.

here’s part 1 of his three-parter. there’s great discussion on his blog, by a wider slice of church leadership types that i tend to have here on ysmarko (so it’s really worth clicking over and reading the comments). you can see my response to his blog question there also.


I sat down the other day with a youth pastor and asked a direct question that I’ve asked a number of youth leaders: “What percentage of your youth become adult, mature Christians?”

His response: “You want the truth?”

I said, “Of course.”

His answer: “About 25%.”

We both sat there, fumbling our coffee cups, looking at one another, nothing said and nothing to be said. In grief and wonder we searched for what we might do together to change the course of the church. His numbers are about average for evangelical churches. I wonder if some youth pastors would sit down, think for 15 minutes or so over the last few years and what has become of their youth. What “worked” and what “didn’t work”? Listen to these ruggedly honest words from Mark Oestreicher:

“The way we’re doing things is already not working. We’re failing at our calling. And deep down, most of us know it. This is why we need an epochal shift in our assumptions, approaches, models, and methods.” This is from Marko’s new book: Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are & Where We Need to Go . We want this blog to participate in that “epochal shift” and so we need to take a good hard look at this book.

Marko’s second chp sets up some important terms, and they overlap with our series on iGens. Three features of youth happen during adolescence:

1. Identity (formation): Who am I?
2. Autonomy: How am I unique and different?
3. Affinity: Where do I belong and to whom?

Marko’s proposal: the priorities of these three have shifted. From WW2 through the 60s, the focus was on identity. From the 70s through the 90s, the focus was on autonomy. The newest generation, however, is not as much about identity and autonomy as about affinity.

Youth ministry, Marko contends, has failed to adjust to the shift of emphasis on affinity.

Marko (and others), here’s a question for you: Would you say that I, as a professor, would have felt 30 years ago that my students were not yet adults but today I might sense that I’m not in their world? Has there been a shift from youth growing into the adult world to a culture much more shaped by their culture?

scot mcknight’s blog gives a weekly focus to youth ministry

uber-blogger scot mcknight (also a brilliant author, theologian and friend) has been friendly to youth workers for a while. i think the fact that he teaches undergrads (and chose to, after years at the seminary level) makes him a bit of a youth worker himself. scot joined our ‘junior high pastors summit’ a few years back as our special guest, and we youth workers found a deep connection with him. he’s also presented well-received seminars at the nywc (and is going to be at a couple of them this fall also).

but i was especially pleased when scot emailed to say that he’d like to make his blog — jesus creed — more intentional about addressing youth ministry. and, to that end, scot (and his lovely wife, kris) plan on hosting a weekly post about youth ministry, on thursday mornings. for now, this weekly post will be written by our friend, chris folmsbee.

here’s what scot writes about it:
Through a variety of influences I have renewed my own commitment to the utter significance of youth ministry today — and I mean by that from junior high until adulthood (and that might mean 12 to 30!). Our future churches are rooted in what happens in the next decade with this age group. I have asked a dynamic young youth minister, Chris Folmsbee, to guide us in some conversations about youth ministry. And I’m urging you to join us in this conversation. Today Chris helps us think about “mission” — and he’s got a thoroughly up-to-date approach to mission.
the first of these weekly posts went up yesterday.

one of the best things about scot’s blog is that, due to his huge readership, there is often robust and thoughtful dialogue in the comments. i hope this continues on these youth ministry posts!

check scot’s blog on thursday mornings (and the rest of the days of the week also, for that matter).

the blue parakeet

the blue parakeet: rethinking how you read the bible, by scot mcknight

i was stoked to get a pre-release copy of scot mcknight’s book in the mail, asking me for an endorsement. the publisher was asking for a stupid-quick turnaround (one week!); but that just gave me an excuse to put it on the top of my “to read” pile.

if you’ve read any of scot’s other books, the first 50 pages will feel a bit like a review of the paradigm he uses for his theology and writing (a good review, but a review nonetheless). but then things really start to kick into gear (i’d just started wondering if he was going to write anything with some teeth in it when i got past the first 50 pages and found them — the teeth, that is).

in many ways, this is mcknight’s edgiest book (and will certainly get him blacklisted by more extremists than his previous, excellent — but less controversial — books). not that mcknight pushes things in a way one might expect from, say, brian mclaren, or tony jones. mcknight is truly endorsing an approach to reading and applying the bible that acknowledges original intent, communal discernment, historical context, historical interpretation, and a few other variables. he forces us to admit (well, many of us were easy to convince on this one) that none of us — even the most ardent biblical literalist — does everything the bible says to do. we all “interpret” selectively.

this reality — that we all interpret selectively, apply selectively, choose which parts of scripture are to be taken at face value, and which parts are “for then, not for now” — gives us a humility when approaching scripture, and a humility when we articulate or live out our understanding of scripture.

mcknight gives a helpful bunch of examples — case studies, really — of themes and subjects (from homosexuality to women in ministry to many, many more), showing how to apply the ideas in the book. on the last subject, women in ministry, mcknight reveals his cards (on the others, he stays somewhat neutral), using the principles in the book to build a case for complete egalitarianism. (it should be noted, this isn’t a book about egalitarianism — it’s just an extended and thorough example of the author applying the suggestions he makes previously in the book as to how we should approach scripture).

here’s the “official” endorsement i wrote for the book:

Scot succeeds in articulating that often-elusive “third way” that so many of us long for: an option between the fighting polarities of liberal and conservative (a fight many of us have grow weary of). The Blue Parakeet gives us (gives me!) a practical and theologically grounded approach to reading, understanding, and applying the living and active Word of God.