Book Review: "Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry" by Doug Fields

"Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry" is not my favourite youth ministry book but it is my go-to recommendation for youth pastors or key leaders just starting out.

If you're looking for programme ideas or pointers on developing your leadership skills, then keep looking - this is not the book for you.

In the last chapter he writes, "do yourself a favour... meet with a veteran youth worker and ask her to help you in your leadership position." Throughout the book he adopts this role himself, imagining he's taken the reader out for a meal and in the process sharing what they need to know in order to start out right.

Throughout the conversation, he anticipates some of the personal and people related challenges that are likely to arise within the first two years of youth ministry and offers sound advice for dealing with them.

He begins with a chapter on "ministry essentials": 10 personal commitments which he challenges the new youth pastor or key leader to make. From there he moves on to talk about the topics of coping with discouragement and spiritual vitality. These early chapters are for me the best in the book and well worth a read for all youth pastors and key leaders, even if it's as far as you get.

The focus then shifts from personal reflection as the following two chapters deal with what's most important to young people (being with them) and how to work with parents (being family friendly).

The next chapters have a distinct "people and problems" theme, as they focus on conflict, submission, teams and investing in leaders.

Finally, he shifts to programme related issues as he talks evaluating programmes, navigating change, and developing a realistic job description.

Interspersed between the pages of great advice and numerous personal accounts contributed by youth pastors who illustrate and endorse what's being taught.

If you're new to youth ministry (and even if you're not) I'm confident you'll make plenty of notes as you read through these pages - notes you'll want to refer back to.

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