Monday, 26 February 2018

Fruit that will Last

I had heard a little bit about Tim Hawkins in the past. Hawkins has been in youth ministry for over 30 years, which I think is a little strange as normally youth ministry is seen (for some) as a stepping stone to "real ministry" so as they get older they move on to something different.

Before I read this book, I was pretty much on board as I had looked him up on YouTube and leaned very heavily on his "How to grow a Biblical Youth Group" series (links down the bottom) for my own Youth Group. These 10-minute clips are really just summaries from this book, so while reading this book I came across things I had already learned from Tim.

As I had hinted in another youth ministry book review, I thought this one was really good. It was Biblical, realistic and comes from over 30 years experience, so there is a bit of wisdom in this and no pandering to the latest fad or sociological framework.

This book provides justification and a strong Biblical base for what youth ministry should be on about as well as dealing with some real practicalities of what a night might look like, or a teaching program, or a camp, or what to do when meeting up with other leaders you are training.

Tim's main idea is that Youth Group is a ministry, so really it's purpose, mission and strategy should be just like any ministry, that is, the purpose is to give glory to God, the mission is to make disciples of all nations and the strategy is the bring students in, build them up and send them out. Only the program is something that is held loosely and up for change provided it fits with your purpose, mission, and strategy.

Some of Tim's details in the programming I disagreed with, or couldn't pull off with the resources that we have, but I did appreciate seeing the nuts and bolts of what his Youth Group looks like. I felt like the church he is currently at has quite the organisational structure to run a few youth programs every week. I like that Tim was on about building good Godly character in his leaders and training the leaders to train other leaders. He also wanted to make sure people's time and resources were used for the main thing. He was astounded when he found out his leaders spent six hours that week building a large scale Wheel of Fortune set out of cardboard just so it was used for about an hour. If only their time was spent building disciples instead...

The book does come with a warning. When Tim set about making Youth Group a ministry and not a glorified babysitting night in the first year he halved the number of students turning up. His point is that how you win them is how you keep them, and so he wants to win students to Jesus and not by some outlandish activity. Otherwise, you have to run yet another and another over the top activity to keep students from coming back. Instead, Tim wants his students to bring their friends along to meet Jesus and to see a Christian community in action. You don't need a smoke machine for that; instead, making Jesus the central attraction, in the long run, builds fruit that will last in the youths.

The book is about 350 pages and not really a gripping read, but I liked this book because of the framework or groundwork Tim laid down for youth ministry. I think it presents a Biblical and practical way to do youth ministry in a structured format. I thought it was very helpful, even just to see how someone else does their thing. It gave me a bit of confidence going into this year. I would like to read this book with others to hear their thoughts on it and about youth ministry in general. If you are new to the youth ministry game, I think this book is well worth a read.

YouTube series by Tim on How to grow a Biblical Youth Group:
1.  How to grow a Biblical plan
2.  How to grow a Biblical heart
3.  How to grow a Biblical purpose
4.  How to grow a Biblical mission
5.  How to grow a Biblical strategy
6. How to grow a Biblical programme (The book is so much more helpful than this clip)


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