Resource Review: A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry

Kyle Hoffsmith
February 9th, 2021

We live in a time when many people have many ideas and thoughts in regards to youth ministry. Some churches or individuals might go to extreme views. Some believe that the youth ministry should have their own meetings and such specialized meetings are essential to the health of a church. Others argue that students should never be isolated from the whole church gathering and should remain together with the entire church in programming. And, many find themselves somewhere in the middle, believing that youth ministry is helpful, but maybe having unsure thoughts as to why youth ministry exists or takes place! No matter where you are on this spectrum, Mike McGarry’s book A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry can be helpful for you and your church leadership.

An advantage of reading this book, compared to others on this topic, is that Mike currently serves as a youth pastor. Although there can be helpful books written about youth ministry by those who are not, Mike is in the field.  He is passionate about helping the church, including his own church, to effectively reach students. He emphasizes in the book that, “Youth ministry is for adolescence. The family is for life. The Church is for eternity.” If this is true, then it would make sense that we focus on using youth ministry as a way to help families with teenagers get fed with God’s Word and become equipped for a lifetime of service for God that will impact eternity. 

Here are three particular topics that this book covers which will be helpful to you:

First, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry gives a broad overview of how children were referenced in the Bible. This might seem simple but, when thinking through the importance of youth ministry, it is very important to consider what the Bible actually says about this age group. In the beginning of chapter two, it explains that, “Biblical youth ministry is a modern application of the frequent commands to pass on the commands of God to the next generation.” Although things look very different today in our world compared to biblical times, it is still necessary to strategically think about how we complete this task of teaching the next generation.

Second, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry expands beyond biblical history and explores youth ministry throughout church history. One thing that current youth workers can sometimes forget is that we are not the first generation of youth workers. Throughout the years, there have been positive and negative examples about how the church has ministered to students. Mike McGarry’s writing overviews from the church shortly after the New Testament was written to our current youth ministry environment. He even explains that, “It is no exaggeration to say that, over the last five decades, no one has influenced youth ministry more than Youth Specialties.”

Third, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry can help youth workers and their churches think through practical ideas and strategies for their youth ministries. For example, chapter six is about “The Family and Youth Ministry.” He writes, “It is unfortunate and unbiblical to set the disciple-making mission of the family aside in exchange for building a large youth ministry.” If this statement is true, then it would reflect that churches need to strategically plan how we are creating and implementing this important ministry. 

In conclusion, A Biblical Theology of Youth Ministry is a great resource for you and your church. I would recommend buying several copies, reading it with some leaders in your church, and then discussing how it can be best used to minister to students in your specific context. Also, be on the lookout for Mike McGarry’s next book Lead Them to Jesus, which will be published in August of this year. 

Kyle Hoffsmith

Kyle Hoffsmith serves as the pastor of student ministries at Old North Church in Youngstown, Ohio. He loves teaching students about Christ and equipping them for a relationship with Him. You can read some of his other blogs on his website www.kylehoffsmith.com.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.