Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do about It” as Want to Read:
Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do about It
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  918 ratings  ·  90 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
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sustainable Youth Ministry, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sustainable Youth Ministry

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  918 ratings  ·  90 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn't Last and What Your Church Can Do about It
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth-ministry
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
Eric Durso
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this. More than I expected. Lots of helpful stuff to think about.
Desire' Wuertemberger
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
I appreciate the research, the facts, the stories presented in an interesting and insights.
I found it challenging to get through the sheer amount of information but enjoyed Mark’s down to earth and humorous style.
I think this is one of those books that you read and have to have it on your shelf as you return to it again and again.
I already have picked if up many times and although I am certainly challenged by the sheer scale of the instructions entailed I am glad to have this on my shelf as a r
Andy Jaspers
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: youth-ministry
Alright, I'm confident in my philosophy of ministry and theology. Now what? This book does a great job at outlining some practical next steps in making your youth ministry effective. My circles have done a pendulum swing when it comes to numbers saying that they don't matter, but they do. We don't want to steal sheep from other churches, but we want the message of the Gospel to touch as many teens as it can. I will be forever grateful for this book. ...more
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a really good read, not just for youth ministry, but ministry in general.
Kyle Chambers
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
while this book is focused on Youth Ministry, The truth, and the application steps can mbe used for any type of ministry
Dave Pettengill
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top 5 youth ministry book I have ever read

Very thorough youth ministry book that does an excellent job balancing the theoretical with the practical. I highly recommend this book.
Austin Fry
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some very helpful practical advice.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.) ...more
Clint Nelson
Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any youth pastor or youth pastor search committee. Following the wisdom of this book can save a decade of failure.

The last quarter, save the last chapter, are a bit random, but still filled with great advice.
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great advice on building sustainability and healthy leadership for any kind of ministry, not just ministry with youth.
Dave Reiss
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Awesome book for anyone involved or connected to youth ministry!
John Lim
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A friend of mine recommended this book to me as one of two top favorite books on Youth Ministry. Within the first few pages, I understood why it ranked so highly. The first was Mark Yaconelli's Contemplative Youth Ministry, which asks the question "What do you do when your young people come together?" As a complement, DeVries's book asks the question "How do you prime a culture to prepare for those meeting times?"

DeVries perceptively notes the (defective) assumptions, narratives and realities th
Hillary Leslie
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Densely packed with a lot of good insight into the church systems that create a sustainable youth ministry, covering many issues I experience in my own context which sorely need addressed. At times challenging to read because of how much it highlights the failures, brick walls and feelings of burn out I’ve been encountering over the last three years, and nods to the mistakes made in my rushed approach to my own ministry. Interesting to read during the pandemic and in a vacancy as a lot seems so ...more
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Sustainable youth ministries seek to steward the true Treasure in faithful jars of clay, knowing full well that these vessels of structure and strategy, of leadership and leverage, are only temporary, though necessary, means of bearing the gospel to the next generation."

With the average tenure of a Youth Pastor being 4.5 years & the truth that most ministries take nearly 7 years to see change and growth - it is important that we start to analyze ministry and make the proper changes. Sustainable
Nov 20, 2020 rated it liked it
It is a well written book. I listened to half of it but decided it wasn't really helpful to me. I have a very tiny youth group, 3 kids. Which means I get 100% attendance ;) This book talks about Youth Ministry as a business, which is probably helpful in large churches but I am looking for something that gets to the heart of it. Why are we doing this? How man kids stay in church after they age out of youth group? That is a question I had and didn't hear an answer to. ( But again I didn't finish i ...more
Jake Payne
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book revolves around the concept its own title brings: constructing youth ministry in a sustainable, long-term manner. There are really just a handful of issues DeVries says to avoid when working on youth ministry, but he does a fantastic job of reiterating the many ways a church fails at keeping their youth ministries afloat while also explaining what can be done about it. This book is written specifically for youth pastors, but so many of the concepts in it apply to almost every other min ...more
Connor Anderson
Dec 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written with the intent to create sustainable youth ministries, DeVries gives helpful information and useful strategies. His book has caused me to evaluate the ministry I serve and how we can improve. Where the book lacks is the idea of the youth leader as a pastor. DeVries seems to picture the youth leader as a project manager who creates programs. Other than that, I recommend it - solely for the value of reshaping youth ministry.
Alex Howard
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book. It's not a theological book, it is purely practical. It assumes a working knowledge of youth ministry, the gospel, and the importance of working with students. The main focus is to help equip a youth leader to create a ministry that is healthy and outlives him or her.

It was pretty crucial for me, and helped me change a lot of things about our student ministry.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
New to youth ministry or thinking of going into it, paid or voluntary, if you are going to read just one youth work book, I suggest this be the one you read. It is honest, easy to understand with no buzzwords or acronyms, and straight to the point. I finished reading months ago but I still flick back to areas to re-read and reflect.
Mike Beets
Oct 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Read it as part of a Seminary subject on youth ministry. Out of the five books I had to read this one had the most practical information in it. No-nonsense advice that Mark DeVries shoots straight. If your community has youth ministry issues, this is the book for you, but not for the reason you think. It does what the title suggests, very good read.
Samuel Sexton
Mar 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Must-read for youth ministry. It can be considered the "Youth Ministry for Dummies", or even, "How to be a grown-up Youth Pastor" for youth workers. I am grateful that I am in a church where a lot of these principles and practices are in place, but even still it was refreshing to see new changes and adjustments that I could continue to make to thrive as a youth pastor. ...more
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super helpful resource for youth ministry that overlaps with all ministry - structure, healthy expectation, planning, volunteers, etc. As we're looking to hire for youth and family ministry and sustain and grow what is currently happening, this book came at a great time. ...more
Margaret Swanigan
This was a really good book and it changed the way that I looked at youth ministry in a lot of ways. I think this is a great resource and something I will return to if I ever end up in youth ministry.
Tom Marsan
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-ed
A fabulous primer and go-to for how to do Youth Ministry!
Sarah Are
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Very helpful book for my role as a youth minister! I would certainly recommend this read to other church workers- particularly those in youth ministry!
Kyle Leadingham
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book about youth ministry that actually works! Every youth minister should absolutely read this. It will pay immediate dividends.
Justine Olawsky
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Read for "Family Equipping and Discipleship" class. Lots of good tips for lasting in ministry, even if you're not directly involved with youth ministry. ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For all looking for a realistic and hopeful perspective on structuring ministry, of any kind, this book is an excellent start for long-term Kingdom building.
William Beck
Apr 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was great and I would recommend it for anyone in leadership. Youth ministers and everyone who works with people can benefit from the wisdom in this book.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry: A Personal and Practical Guide to Starting Right
  • Engaging Generation Z: Raising the Bar for Youth Ministry
  • Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church
  • Purpose Driven Youth Ministry: 9 Essential Foundations for Healthy Growth
  • Lead Small
  • Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry: From a Strategy of Influence to a Theology of Incarnation
  • The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World
  • Tempered Resilience: How Leaders Are Formed in the Crucible of Change
  • Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World
  • The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World
  • On the Road with Saint Augustine: A Real-World Spirituality for Restless Hearts
  • The Purpose Driven Church: Every Church Is Big in God's Eyes
  • When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself
  • Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory
  • Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply
  • Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker: A Theological Vision for Discipleship and Life Together
  • How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth
  • Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope
See similar books…
Mark DeVries (MDiv, Princeton Theological Seminary) is the founder of Ministry Architects, a consulting team that helps churches and ministry organizations build sustainable ministries for children, youth, young adults, and entire congregations. He served for twenty-eight years as associate pastor for youth and their families at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. He has trained you ...more

News & Interviews

  As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of...
54 likes · 9 comments
“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
More quotes…