Several years ago, my church was going through a new youth pastor about every 6 months: a frightening turnover in any environment. While this problem only lasted a couple of years, it was stressful and disconcerting to say the least. What we noticed was that many people were not equipped to do what is required of an effective youth pastor in this current political and sociological environment. In several different board meetings, mounting frustration was shared that there needed to be a resource that new and struggling youth pastors could turn to. I, as one of the pastors, poured over the materials that were available at the time.
In looking at the materials that were available 4-5 years ago, what I found was that a small percentage were good, but overly academic and with very little application. What’s more, few if any of them took into consideration to modern social climate either out of neglect of the author or out of age of the text. The remainder of the books I found were rife with psychotherapy babble and extra-biblical ideas. What I was looking for was a baseline for youth pastors not an inspirational novella or a how-to book on how to improve my youth ministry through social networking, yikes!
What we find in Dean Borgman’s book Foundations for Youth Ministry is the book I need a half-decade ago. The author lays out a clear, easy-to-follow theological foundation that informs a new youth pastor about the ideas, approaches, and doctrines that are out there in addition to providing a step-by-step form of exegetical interpretation that remains biblical while allowing enough room to show the youth of the church how scripture is not just applicable but fundamental in their day-to-day lives.
Borgman then goes into many of the common apologetic and application issues that teens run into (family, peers, sexuality, culture, technology) and offers pastors a way to show how each is addressed in the Bible. Perhaps the most valuable element Borgman shares is his demonstration of how we are not to make the everything Bible applicable to the world but instead how everything in the world is applicable to the Bible. This consistent, scripture-oriented approach to youth ministry is truly the foundational element of this book.
If the book stopped here it would be good, but Borgman goes on to show how the lessons for both youth and the pastor branch off into other elements of ministry. The ideas of team-building, relationships, and outreach are, while not keystone to the text, clearly implied throughout. Above all, the author stresses the high calling of youth ministry and ends with this thought “I am convinced that God wants us to be as wise as possible about ourselves, young people, families, and cultures around us. God also wants us to understand both the heavenly, spiritual side of the church and its human, institutional realities.”
Trent Nicholson, Ph.D., D.Min.
Desert Bible Institute, President
Dr. Nicholson reviews academic, Christian living, and fiction books for a variety of publishers in an array of formats. He is never paid for any of his reviews. He writes these strictly as a courtesy to his students at Desert Bible Institute and for any other readers that might find his insights valuable. For more reviews or information, visit Dr. Nicholson’s blog at drtnicholson.wordpress.com.
The book for this review was provided free of charge by Baker Academic through NetGalley.com. This book was provided without the expectation or requirement of a positive response. Thank you to both the publisher and NetGalley.com for the opportunity to both read your advanced copy and to provide this unpaid evaluation. All opinions in this review reflect the views of the author and not DBI, NetGalley.com, or the publisher.