Monday, January 24, 2005

An Excellent Book on Youth Ministry

Besides being the things listed in the headline of this Blog, I am involved in the ministry of Young Life (YL), a national para-church ministry whose motto is (modestly) "Every kid, everywhere, for Eternity". It is a wonderful ministry, and since the church often fails to reach kids, for a myriad of reasons, Young Life is there to reach out, big time. Have extra cash, send it Young Life's way! As a part of my involvement with YL, I have recently read a book that anyone who is even vaguely connected with the world of kids from 12 to 22 will want to read. "Hurt", by Chap Clark is just out, and is perhaps the most insightfully book on youth culture produced in some time.

Imagine this, taking a sabbatical from your career as a seminary professor, and instead of resting by the seashore, pondering theological thoughts (phew!) during your time off, you elect to teach public high school for a year, all with the intent of better understanding the lives and culture of young people. This choice to teach high school was the basis for Chap Clark's ground-breaking book, "Hurt". As a former youth worker and parent of a teenager (and another approaching teenage) I cannot say enough about this book for its clear perception of the state of youth culture. Prepare to be surprised, shocked, offended, and awakened to the state of our youth. This book will make you mad, sad, scared, and hopeful. Prepare for a paradigm shift. Clark has done careful research of the world of high school students, and his work examines their world of "clusters", or friendship groups, and also includes insightful glimpses of the social world, moral confusion, loneliness, and sexual behavior of our young. Clark points out in vividly clear language the pain they face, the confusion they deal with, and the ways we adults have abandoned them. However, this book is not a complete downer. Each chapter ends with hopeful suggestions for change; ways in which the cultural afflictions young people face can be healed. Hope is abundant, and change is possible. Make it your book club choice, buy it for your friends, fellow teachers, administrators, school board members, and youth workers!

There, said my feelings, I feel better already!

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