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Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do about It
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Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do about It

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  348 ratings  ·  45 reviews
You're looking for a youth pastor. Again. What goes wrong? Why do youth ministries crumble? And what is the cost to students, parents, volunteers and church staff? Is a sustainable youth ministry possible, even after a youth pastor leaves? Youth ministry expert Mark DeVries knows the answer is yes, because he helps build sustainable youth ministries through his coaching se ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 10th 2008 by IVP Books
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If you are a youth worker, you won't like reading Sustainable Youth Ministry. But you will benefit from it. That's because Mark DeVries addresses several things youth pastors are notorious for complaining about or avoiding (and he does it with 30 years experience, not posture). This book is a straightforward, tested look at the need for "systems" in youth ministry that last, and DeVries explains these with the same patience it takes to develop them. One of the features I particularly admire is t ...more
Dave Reiss
Awesome book for anyone involved or connected to youth ministry!
Anyone involved in any capacity with youth ministry should read this book. It delves into why some youth groups succeed and why some fail and most importantly how to help your church develop a sustainable ministry.

The book really deserves FIVE stars for its ideas and insights, so why did I give it four? In a lot of ways it is a total downer; it basically states that all youth groups fail and most ministers aren't really qualified to handle the intense work it takes to turn around the culture an
This book simultaneously challenges and affirms those called to youth ministry. The affirmations are plenty (which is so necessary for those who are called to this for the long haul), and the challenges aren't so much convicting as practical. My husband is the youth minister, not me, though I am involved in his ministry wholeheartedly as a volunteer and at-home cheerleader. It was so validating seeing how my husband is not the only one who goes through what he deals with. And it has given me ins ...more
Chris Esposito-bernard
"Big's Brother is my big brother." - Kanye West.

In Mark's book, I felt like Mark was wrapping his arm around my shoulder, like a little brother, and letting me in on how things really work. It was hard to read at times, but like a big brother, he told me what I needed to hear for my own good.

Sustainable Youth Ministry is a great resource for churches trying to figure out how to love their teens well. And I whole heartedly recommend it.

Nate Brown
Great read!

Great read!

this book has a lot of great and helpful tips for bringing a strong sustainable youth ministry to churches of any style. Very well written with a great flow that made it a very easy read. I plan on using this book as a helpful start to new leaders and "stakeholders" to help share a little insight to the things I would like to do!
David Morehead
This book could easily been titled, "Sustainable Ministry", "Sustainable Home", "Sustainable Schools", "Sustainable Life", "Sustainable ______________." The point the author makes is in order to sustain anything worth while, you must have systems in place to do so.

He talked about "Crisis of Capacity" where you can only grow to the capacity that has already been built in. He then begins to give steps on how you can increase the capacity of your organization. This is a great read for ANYONE in le
CJ Smith
A must for any youth/student leader! I have been a student pastor for 7 years and really can see where this book can be beneficial. Us "Vets" should be making sure every youth leader has/works through this book. We did the discussion questions that we found online and it worked great. Great book for Student Ministry
Robbie Pruitt
In 2008, Mark DeVries wrote one of the best youth ministry books available in the field, Sustainable Youth Ministry. This book influenced churches all over the country with a sound theology and understanding of the workings of youth ministry. The practical tools and insights that DeVries provided have increased the effectiveness of many local church youth ministries.

Sustainable Youth Ministry is a must read for every youth minister and pastor, and I highly recommend the book to help train parent
Edward Choo
a must read....

....for not only youth pastors, but perhaps more importantly every senior pastor of your church. Elders could benefit from this as well.
excellent book for providing a guide to building long-lasting youth ministries. highly readable and clear on process necessary to set up a highly functioning youth ministry.
Casey Taylor
Phenomenal! Focuses primarily on developing sustainable ministry systems. My entire Family Ministry staff is reading it as we build for the future.
This would serve as a good companion volume to Mike Woodruff’s book, Managing Youth Ministry Chaos. DeVries free up the non-charisma youth worker to build a ministry with confidence. The book serves to temper personality-based youth ministries, increasing the likelihood of true sustainability. DeVries puts his finger directly on the same problems repeated multiple times in many churches. The author looks at:
1. The anatomy of stuckness that keeps churches mired in ineffective youth ministry.
2. A
Oct 22, 2009 James rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: pastors, any adult working with youth in a church setting
Shelves: read-ministry
Written with a very specific audience in view (mainline to evangelical churches large enough to pay at least one youthworker at least part time), he crystallizes a number of things about church youth ministry that I have been sensing in my current call. The need for long-term perspective, how a variety of social dynamics within congregations mitigate against consistent vision -- or any other form of longevity in youth ministry. Great (selective, appropriate) use of stats, explicitly theological ...more
Kyle Alt
Great tool for creating structures and purpose within your ministry.
Nathan Wells
If you are looking to hire a youth director for your church or you are a youth director and you want to have some insight into navigating church politics this book is useful. Sustainable Youth Ministry takes a direct look at how many churches and youth leaders set themselves up to fail before they even begin by having unrealistic expectations and unplanned direction. This book will walk you through principles of being intentional and strategic about your organized youth ministry, whether you are ...more
Can you answer this question? ... What is the appropriate ratio for FULL-TIME youth worker to youth in a sustainable, healthy youth program? (See bottom of this review for the answer.) If your youth minister looks more like the last match on the cover than that third match, or if you are searching for a new youth pstor AGAIN, then you, your pastor, and the parents of youth at your church, as well as your search committee, need to read this book. (Answer: 1:50. Yep. It's true.)
YES! YES! and YES! I met Mark at a conference in October, 2011, and purchased this book on Kindle before we left, devouring it within a week. DeVries details important concepts for churches to consider when looking at their youth ministry goals and the ways they approach those goals that may not be consistent with achieving them. The research shared is encouraging. DeVries has been in youth ministry for 28 years. He knows what he's talking about!
Kurt Brandemihl
Essential reading for churches serious about youth ministry that lasts
This book is a great read for people who want to do effective youth ministry. Building slowly, for the long term, is the core of Devries message. He promotes a spiritual way to have discplined planning and execution. Some books will give you more use it this week ideas, but nothing I have read yet does a better job with the 'how' and 'what' questions of youth ministry.
Andy Goodrich
Lots of good things to say and apply. His methods do not seem fluid enough. I love the idea of having a plan and well thought out strategy but sadly I find the plan always changing do to shifting participation and needs of youth. This being said following his steps and building the foundation that he describes could never hurt a ministry it just seems a little daunting.
Robert Smith
This is a book that made me realize to a great extent my own failures as a youth pastor. I was the camp counselor rock star youth pastor who burned out almost as quickly as I started. This book talks about the structures necessary for maintaining and running a sustainable, healthy youth ministry. Highly recommended for all youth workers, pastors and search committees.
I haven't tried any of the concepts in this book, but it all makes sense. It's well written and easy to read, with some good examples. As a lover of stories, he cited some examples w/o telling the whole stories, which I found disappointing, but I'm sure the remainder of the stories didn't illustrate his point, thus his decision to terminate them.
Great book. Insightful and very practical. It deals with the structures and heart behind youth ministry - that we cannot just charge into the future doing things that 'we have always done'. Lack in ideas and finances are not the key reasons that youth ministry is a basic structural problem and a lack of endurance for the long haul!
Bradley Davis
Absolutely essential book for anyone leading in student ministry. While you may wish Devries own philosophy were more tailored to your own, his strategy for creating structures and a climate for your ministry is insightful. Everyone can benefit from this book.
This is an excellent book to help a congregation take ownership of its youth ministry instead of hoping that the next youth leader they hire will be "the one." DeVries provides excellent foundations for youth ministry, guidance for developing a vision, as well as practical steps for structure and organization.
great theory and insight that can be applied to all ministry. mark is a clear writer. I found it helpful as I seek to support youth ministry in a corporate church and as I evaluate future calls that involve pieces of youth ministry.

every pastor should read this...and all youth volunteers as well.
Chris Barrett

It takes a while for Mark to get started and, like many other ministry books that have the answers to all our problems, it could have been a lot shorter. However, he does take a fresh look at dealing with the whole process of setting up ministry for the long haul. No shortcuts here.
This is the best book that I have read on Youth Ministry. This is a very helpful book for pastors (as well as youth pastor search committees) to read in order to have a better understanding of youth ministries and what they should be looking for, as well as hoping to develop, in youth ministers.
I know very little about this field of building a church youth ministry. I am on our church's children's nurture committee and we read this as a group. I found it really helpful and opened my eyes to what works and doesn't work in this field.
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“We encouraged volunteers to think of themselves not as people who run errands to keep a program going but as spiritual directors in the lives of students. Chris Folmsbee” 1 likes
“Imagine what would happen if schools taught with the same approach to curriculum that most churches use. One year, a teacher stumbles onto an engaging curriculum on verbs, with some really cool videos on gerunds. When the kids and teachers get bored with that curriculum, they cut it short, and the teacher runs to the curriculum store, finds a compelling study on algebraic equations (narrated by Rob Bell-Curve), and starts to teach that the next week. When that study is winding down, the teacher decides it’s time to teach on rocks or medieval knights or Christmas around the world.” 0 likes
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