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Middle School Ministry Made Easy: Book Review Essay

Author Information Kurt Johnston has been serving in junior high ministry since 1988. (Simply Youth Ministry n. d. ) Currently, he oversees all of student ministries and is hands on in junior high ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. (Oestreicher 2011) Kurt also likes encouraging junior high youth workers and has written books and created resources with that goal in mind. (Simply Youth Ministry n. d. ) The growing list of books Kurt has written include such titles as, The 9:Best Practices for Youth Ministry, and 10-Minute Moments: Smart Stuff – Exploring Proverbs 10 Minutes at a Time.

Kurt has partnered with other experts in the field of student ministry like Mark Oestreicher – President of Youth Specialties, (Oestreicher 2011) Scott Rubin -Director of Elevate, the junior high ministry at Willow Creek Community Church, (Simply Youth Ministry n. d. ) and Katie Edwards – Junior High Director at Saddleback Church, (Doug Fields 2011) to produce resources for those in student ministry such as The Middle School Survival Series, Kurt & Scott’s Junior High Adventure, Amigos, 99 Thoughs About Girls: For Guys’ Eyes Only, and 99 Thoughts about Guys: For Girls’ Eyes Only.

Kurt’s experience and expertise in student ministry is accessable at all times through a network of websites such as simplyyouthministry. com, youthministry. com, and juniorhighministry. com. Kurt authors a subscription based email newsletter that claims to be, “Almost daily deas, thoughts, & insights for your youth ministry,” and has proven to be beneficial to my minsitry. Content Summary The main idea of Middle School Ministry Made Simple is stated on the back cover of the 4 book. It says, “You don’t have to be an expert to minister to middle schoolers. ”

The pages Johnston’s book are filled with practices and strategies that could be tremendously useful in a middle school ministry setting. The tools that Johnston shares are based on twenty-three years of ministry experience, and have the personal stories of success and failure to offer authenticity and relevance to their use. Throughout the chapters of Middle School Ministry Made Simple, Johnston address issues that those engaged in middle school ministry are certain to face, like recruiting other adults to invest in the lives of teenagers.

He emphasizes seeking out leaders who are not only willing to serve but who are also a good fit for the ministry. Johnston says, “Having fewer of the right type of junior high leaders is always better than having more of the wrong type. ” (Johnston 2008) Other subjects in Johnston’s book address partnership with parents, middle school ministry programming, leading middle schoolers and volunteers, and the importance of a lasting ministry. Johnston emphasizes ministry programming that focuses on the five purposes of the church: evangelism, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and ministry. (Johnston 2008)

He also highlights targeting the five types of junior high students in your area: community, crowd, congregation, committed, and core. (Johnston 2008) The foundation of “Purpose Driven” ministry and targeting different types of students is the hope that as students are reached, they might progress from the outside of the fellowship, community students, to the inside of the fellowship, core. Johnson touches on some principles of leadership, and shares that his graduate degree is in the very subject.

This may be why he has so much to say, and so much insight to share when it comes to leading, either as the leader of a ministry or as a volunteer within the ministry. He 5 talks about being the leader as “leading from the front,” and serving as a volunteer as “leading from the middle. ” In both positions, Johnston emphasizes the importance of leaders nurturing their soul or walking closely with the Father, and gives insight into how to lead from varying levels of responsibility.

“Middle school ministry deserves adults who are committed for the long haul,” says Johnston when it comes to perseverance. (Johnston 2008) He offers insight that emphasizes the lasting impact of remaining in a position of leadership for a long period of time, and shares expert advice on how to make that happen. His words garner tremendous respect, as he has proven that the principles about which he writes must be true by demonstrating incredible endurance in his own ministry.

As a result of his ministry experience, Johnston lists in an alphabetical fashion, twenty-six “tips and tidbits” that he hopes will be helpful to readers who are involved in middle school ministry. Evaluation One of the things I enjoy most about Middle School Ministry Made Simple, is that while Johnston may arguably be the authority on middle school ministry, he doesn’t claim to have his field figured out. He even shares in the introduction, despite twenty-three years (twenty years upon the book’s publishing) of middle school experience, “I am not an expert. ”

This attitude of humility makes his advice in the chapter concerning leadership, in which he advises leaders to “pass the praise,” as well as the rest of his knowledge, even more authentic. Johnston’s advice on recruiting volunteers is tremendously insightful. I particularly like the way he contrasted the stereotype of an effective middle school volunteer with the list of seven key qualities he looks for in a potential ministry volunteer. While the other information in this chapter is helpful, the aforementioned comparison is the most valuable in my estimation.

I 6 think people do have a stereotype of what a middle school volunteer should look like or how they should act. Unfortunately many outstanding volunteers are missed because they don’t meet expectations, while others are recruited based on faulty ideals who may not be the best for the students or the ministry team.

Johnston’s handling of partnership with parents is not the strength of this book. I felt like he treated the issue as a necessary evil, but not an area of ministry focus. He emphasizes that parents are a part of the equation and so we should be involved with them. However I don’t get the impression that Kurt’s idea of partnership with parents is about strengthening the family as the primary disciple makers of students, as much as it is about leveraging their contributions to one’s ministry.

The strength of this book is Johnson’s time proven expertise, and ability to convey his experience in ministry in a way that is helpful to other middle school ministry workers. I believe that this book should be on the shelf of everyone who serves in middle school ministry, regardless of tenure of ministry. Five new things that I have learned from this work that I will apply in my future strategy are: 1. A key part of empowering others is allowing them to make decisions. 2. Develop accountability to encourage longevity. 3. Not every opportunity is a good opportunity for me. Just say no.

Three new things I can do today in the area of personal student development are: 1.Develop a presence on the local school campus. 2. Too many rules can be a hindrance. Focus on respect for others. 3. Develop a system of teaching topics that will guide students through middle school/ Some questions this book raised that I would like to discuss in class are: 1. Once a leader is aware that a volunteer is not going to work out, how does one remove 7 him or her from service without damaging the relationship?

2. What is the balance between strengthening the influence of the home and strengthening the programs of the church through student ministry? 8 Bibliography Doug Fields.

Katie Edwards is coming to SLC2011. 2011. http://www. dougfields. com/katie-edwards-is-coming-to-slc2011/ (accessed 10 7, 2011). Johnston, Kurt. Middle School Ministry Made Simple. Cincinatti, OH: Standard Publishing, 2008. Oestreicher, Mark. The Youth Cartel. 8 8, 2011. http://whyismarko. com/2011/kurt-johnston-offers-5-reasons-hes-excited-for-the-middle-school- ministry-campference/ (accessed 10 7, 2011). Simply Youth Ministry. http://www. youthministry. com/user/kurt-johnston (accessed 10 7, 2011). Stier, Greg. Outbreak! Creating a Contagious Youth Ministry Through Viral Evangelism. Chacago, IL: Moody Press, 2002.

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