Letters to a Youth Worker Mark DeVries, General Editor
Brentwood, Tennessee: CYMT Press, 2012.
When I started reading it, my initial reaction was that this seemed like a book aimed at a person new to youth ministry. As I kept reading, I realized while not full of new insights for someone who has done this for more than 10 years, it did have many great reminders in a easy to read format. And so, I recommend this for everyone who loves youth-for parents who want to know more about what it is like to be a youth worker, for church staff who do not work with youth but want to support those who do, for congregation members who want to be more in touch with youth, and for all those who have committed to working with youth for money or simply because you love youth.
This book is filled with letters addressing various situations a youth worker might encounter. It is written by a variety of people who have worked with youth in different capacities over the years. It uses many mistakes made by the authors to remind us that we are not the first ones to do this and we are not the first ones to make mistakes.
This book spent much time reminding us that ministry is something we are not called to do alone. I think that is essential to remember because ministry can be so lonely, and yet there are many ways to involve and engage others in this journey along with us.
Even those of us who know better get so busy doing ministry that we forget St. Anselm’s call to “faith seeking understanding” (66). We must continue to learn and grow in our own faith while nurturing the spiritual lives of others. This book is a good resource for making that happen.
On page 40, a covenant for the church and the youth worker is presented. What a great way to begin a ministry, with promises like “We will pray and spiritually support (promises for the church) and I will pray for our church, its leaders, and members and our community (responses of the youth worker.”
“What I’m hoping to emphasize to you is that the real heart of ministry is the amazing privilege of seeking God, of seeking to place yourself inside God’s very action in the world. The heart of youth ministry is to try to articulate how and where this God acts and move, and then constructing practices and activities that honor and seek for that place where God moves” (61).
“Who is your theologian?” (67). Who is it that you’d pick to journey alongside you as you study and grow in your faith?
“One of the occupational hazards of ministry is professional holiness: doing the right things with the wrong heart” (72).
“Youth ministry IS about investing. One thing I do know to be true is that good investments yield good dividends. And your investment in young people–your faithful actions, your positive spirit, your persistent conversations, your healthy decisions, your own love for God–will yield a return, though we may never get to see the full investment report this side of heaven” (84).