Before my own review, which is forthcoming, here are some existing reviews by Chris Marsden and Ben Boles at Fusionlife. There's also a promise of a review here.
Chris M says:
"It was all those little things that I picked up over the years, through trial and error, that were the difference between what I thought youth ministry was all about, and what God was teaching me youth ministry should be all about."
Ben says :
"10 Lies in my mind is a great reminder book peppered with truth about what are job is really about and fresh thinking about the lies that hold us back from doing ministry that glorifies God and build disciples not just fills seats."
So what are these ten lies?
- It's all about relationships
- Students are the future of the church
- The bigger the event, the better the impact
- Students need to understand what we are teacing
- The primary job of the student pastor is to reach students
- Students want to be entertained at church
- Student Ministry must be cutting edge
- We must be family friendly
- We can use the popular students to reach others
- A growing ministry is a healthy ministry
The title of the book reflects a passion in Michael not to criticise student ministry but to see it done in the true service of God. To those curious like me I can say yes he does say what the TRUTHS of youth ministry are in his opinion... but I won't steal his thunder.
I have to say that from my initial reading of the book I found it told me a lot of what I've already picked up so I'd say it is probably of more use to the newer youth minister than the more experienced. More than that though, I found that the book seemed to talk to a youth worker that wasn't me. I think there is a definite American style to the kind of situations Michael talks about and I think, missiologically, it is not particularly like my own experience of Anglican youth ministry. 10 Lies of Student Ministry seems to address ministry from churches driven hard by results and bringing large numbers of people to faith rather than the more accompanying, "narrative theology" model I find works here. Michael certainly does a lot to question the priorities of some of the ministry models and it is abundantly clear that he has a wide experience of "doing well" and "doing not so well" and has learnt great lessons from both.
He calls his reader to focus on drawing young people into relationship not with themselves as the youth minister but rather into a relationship with Jesus. He does this in a simple and accesible way but I must admit I, personally, found the complex and heavily theoretical examination of this as an example of mimetic desire in Kenda Creasy Dean's book Practicing Passion more appealing. Now I know I'm a little unusual in being a youth minister and WANTING a heavily academic book that references sources and refers to theology and sociological theory but that's me. If it's not you then this book will appeal as it speaks from the heart about experience of ministry.
I like for example:
"You're not as important as you think you are. God can reach students without your help. Your church will not go out of business when you leave." (p.67)
He stresses that youth ministers are not there to minister alone but to draw, encourage, inspire and VALUE a team of leaders around them. I couldn't agree more. He also speaks against the numbers game which is always pleasing to see and fotunately increasingly common nowadays. he says "a better measure of real success is health not growth" (p. 141).
I think what this book does well is challenge some preconceptions of youth ministry. Of course if you don't HAVE those preconceptions, it may not all be for you but it's an easy read and clearly set out so you can dip in quite easily. Anyone local wanting a look just let me know!