Book Review: “99 Thoughts for Youth Workers” by Josh Griffin

99thoughtsbook200x255I just finished reading through Josh Griffin’s new book called
99 Thoughts for Youth Workers, a great quick read for anyone working with youth.

Many of his points are short but profound, bringing to light many truths about youth workers, their connection with God and with people. One of JG’s friends, Matthew McNutt, called this book the “Youth Workers Book of Proverbs.”

It’s definitely one of those books you can read again and again and learn something new every time. And since it’s short, it might become a once-a-month read for me.

What I liked about the book:

  • Josh focuses on the heart and soul of the youth leader. While many of his tips are about talking to kids, recruiting volunteers, or getting your team ready for camp, just as many tips center on sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Rest, rest, rest! Sleep! I am blessed to be in a position where my pastor values my spiritual health over the performance of the student ministry.
  • The book has a concern for the whole church, not just the youth ministry. Josh, over and over in many of his tips, points out that the youth ministry of a church is not the only ministry, nor is it a church unto itself. The student ministry must be an integral part of the larger church body. For example, he suggests that the youth ministry serve other ministries even when there is no need.
  • Josh talks about how to work with a team. Josh highlights several ways to recruit, nurture, and empower a team of leaders to carry out the work of the ministry. This aspect of ministry can easily be neglected, and many youth pastors might expect they have to do everything. But Josh is big on delegation and giving leadership away.
  • The book is easily digestible bites of wisdom. It’s all meat. Nothing more than a few paragraphs on one point. He doesn’t tell long, drawn out stories to beef up his page count, just tells it like it is.

What I think could be improved upon:

  • Nothing is said about networking with other churches. Since this is the point of this blog, this had to be mentioned! This was a topic that could have been touched upon in some degree.
  • The book assumes that all youth workers are married and have a family. At one point, Josh says to make sure you connect with your family. Me personally, I am single and all my relatives live out of state, so connecting with my family is tough (other than making phone calls and sending emails). I would have appreciated some dating tips for youth pastors! (I’m being a bit sarcastic, here.) But more concern for the younger, single youth leader would have been appreciated.
  • With regard to interns, the book focuses primarily on summer interns, not long term interns. I think talking about his 2 year internships would have added depth to his points on interns.

Things that I will start doing now as a result of reading this book:

  • Take to heart the “Connect Daily” section of the book (points 16-25) and spend more of my time connecting to students, parents, elders, and volunteers on a daily basis.
  • Reduce the amount of media inputs, that is, focus on quality rather than quantity. He suggests cutting out the forms of input that waste time and don’t help, like blogs and Twitter followings. This can be tough for someone who is a blogger!
  • Add an “unplug day” to my routine, a day where I turn off all forms of communication. This means no cell phone, no internet, no nothing! Just a day to unwind and retreat. I think starting at once a month would be good for me.

Favorite Quotes:

“Youth ministry isn’t meant to be done alone.” -Page 2

“Work is a lot more fun in pairs than alone.” -Page 18

“Everything is the message.” -Page 19

“Youth ministry is a calling of extremes. This week not a single day was the same as the last. I’ve ministered on both ends of the extremes—students who are taking huge God steps forward and students who are making the worst choices possible and completely headed downhill.” -Page 6

Favorite Points:

02 – Take initiative, don’t be passive and expect things to happen.
06 – Plan an event that supports the church. Care about more than just the youth ministry.
08 – Communicate… no, over-communicate.
17 – Connect with a volunteer [on a daily basis]
27 – Bring something to the meeting. Ask yourself, “What can I contribute to this meeting?”
38 – Assume that person needs help with a project. Be a servant leader. Help your secretary push papers or the children’s ministry director plan an event.
57 – Give students a call to action in your messages.
93 – “Healthy youth ministry has a healthy youth minister.”
107 – A youth leader has to value the vision of the church. No rogue youth leaders.

Overall, I think 99 Thoughts will be an invaluable addition to your library. Go ahead, buy a copy from the Simply Youth Ministry store!

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