Book Reviews -- By: Lilly H. Park
JFM 1:2 (Spring 2011) p. 56
Book Review Editor
Family-Based Youth Ministry. Revised and Expanded Edition. By Mark DeVries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004, 255 pp., $16.00.
When reading the new edition of Family-Based Youth Ministry (2004), by Mark DeVries, it is helpful to know ahead of time just what this book offers, and what it does not. DeVries has been involved in youth ministry for over twenty-five years: as an Associate Pastor for Youth and Their Families, as founder of Youth Ministry Architects, and as a sought-after lecturer and teacher. All that to say, DeVries knows the subject of youth ministry well, and it is youth ministry that is a primary concern of this book.
DeVries spends the first few chapters diagnosing what he sees as the “crisis” in youth ministry: the way youth ministry has been done has not been “effective in leading our young people to mature Christian adulthood” (26). In short, DeVries believes much youth ministry leads kids away from taking responsibility for their own spiritual life (28) by isolating kids from mature Christian adults (39-43), with the result that young people are relationally, cognitively, and morally stunted (48-53). The corrective to this crisis is to re-establish the “generational threads that used to weave their way into the fabric of growing up” by “connecting our kids to nurturing relationships that will last after they complete their teenage years” (56).
DeVries then spends the next few chapters discussing the positive and negative aspects of the nuclear family. DeVries certainly believes parents are crucial in the growth of young people toward Christ-likeness. He goes so far as to claim “Parents play a role second only to that of the Holy Spirit in building the spiritual foundation of their children’s lives” (68). Yet, he does not mince words in asserting that many Christian parents are just too spiritually immature, too harried by the busyness of life, or too affected by contemporary culture to navigate alone the task of raising their children toward being mature Christian adults (73-78).
It is here, then, that DeVries extols the benefits of what he sees is the key for growing children toward being “complete in Christ”: the extended family of the church (83-95, 116). Most significantly, DeVries believes that an extended Christian family can help to overcome deficiencies found in many homes—particularly non-traditional homes (119-29). DeVries also makes his case that an extended Christian family is essential for young people to mature in their faith by
JFM 1:2 (Spring 2011) p. 57
providing avenues for them to own their faith (135-43) and to become r...
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