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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

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  832 ratings  ·  79 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 ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 10th 2008 by IVP Books
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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 ...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.
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.
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a really good read, not just for youth ministry, but ministry in general.
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.)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Chris Risley
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
First part of the book is better for pastors but later chapters are good for youth workers. Assumes a church not structured around small groups.
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.
Logan Webster
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked it.
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!
Jake Thurston
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A truly exceptional book on constructing systematic youth ministry. In fact, the principles are so good, that you could apply them in any context of organized discipleship in the church. A must read for anyone involved in youth ministry, from youth pastors, to volunteers, to senior pastors!
Vivien Naomi Lee
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I am going to end up reading this book again.
I was tempted to drop the book after realising it was a book targeted at full-time staff workers, but I think as long as you are a churchgoer who is looking to enter youth ministry to serve or a layleader who is invested in building a sustainable youth ministry - this book will be a super good read. It taught me the importance of rest in good service and the importance of organisational and relational skills motivated by love. It also taught me that
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Scott Frazier
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the most insightful and practical youth ministry books I've ever read. However, for those looking for a "quick fix" to your youth ministry woes, this is definitely not the book for you. DeVries instead focuses on what's often overlooked by most youth pastors, the systems necessary for long term success.

The only drawbacks were the plugs for Youth Ministry Architects, which is DeVries' consulting company. As a business move, it's genius because you get people seeking your help, but from
Kreig Durham
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is honestly one of the most practical books relating to youth ministry I've read. I intend to keep it close by for reference as I work to steps outlined in this book. I appreciate that the author is clear that there is not one exact model that brings success, but rather a process that can fit the needs of your particular ministry. It was quite a reality check to accept that there's no such thing as "the absolute perfect youth pastor," but rather a system that needs to be in place to ensure ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christian-living
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 ...more
Robbie Pruitt
Aug 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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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 ...more
“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” 2 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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