Book Review: Simple Student Ministry


There are a ton of books out there that you can find that will promise to show you a new way to do ministry to and with teens. I have read a lot of them. Some were required reading while I was at Geneva College. Others have drifted away from promising that their model will guarantee you success in ministry, and informed the reader that this particular model works in the author’s setting, but not all will work in the reader’s ministry. (By the way, whenever you read about a particular model or way of doing ministry, this is a solid piece of advice to use when trying to implement that model into your own context).

Simple Student Ministry is quite different from these two books.

Simple Student Ministry is actually a nice refresher (for me anyway) of the core principles of ministry that Geneva sought to teach me, and all the other students who graduated with Student Ministry degrees. The goal of ministry, as defined by Geiger and Borton, is that we disciple teenagers into strong, growing relationships with Christ. In other words, our job is to make disciples out of our students. Instead of talking about a model for how to do this, the authors are clear that they simply want to look at refining, and simplifying what we do as ministry leaders. They do not offer a model, or a program to follow. What they do is force the reader to examine their purpose for ministry. Why does your student ministry exist? What are its goals? How are you meeting these goals?How are we making disciples? Are we teaching students that they should rely on great big events to connect with God, or are we walking alongside them daily to help them draw closer to God on their own?

Of course, this is a gross oversimplification of the book. Or is it? The goal of the book is to get the reader to examine their own ministry and determine if they are really doing what they set out to do (make disciples), and figure out if there are things that they do that do not advance the mission and purpose of their ministry.

There are some great case studies included in the end of the book of churches that are very intentional about how they do ministry. And I really appreciate that they are presented as case studies, and not as examples of what we all should do. But the process, the purpose they share is all the same. They are being intentional about how they do ministry to and with adolescents. And that is something that we all should do. We get so little time with our students, that it just does not make sense to clutter that time with programs and events that don’t really help them to grow closer to God.

Make the time to read Simple Student Ministry for yourself. It’s a relatively quick read, and it can also be done as book discussion with your leadership team. Your ministry should benefit from it in some way, perhaps even to be challenged to simplify how you run your ministry, or maybe to ask yourself if you really are trying to raise up disciples.

Have you read this book? How has it impacted your ministry?

(Check out the Simple Student Ministry site for more)

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