Friday, July 12, 2013

Top Five Must-Read Books for (Lutheran Youth) Leaders

You may have noticed that my dedication to weekly blog posts totally lapsed since the flood! I spent almost a week out of town at a youth conference in Winnipeg with some kids from church, and that totally threw off my groove. :) I'm still recovering from spending one night on a hot church floor, four nights in a non-air conditioned Manitoba-summer-hot dorm, and one night on a bus, but we had such a good time. Two of the youth were new to our group, 'adopted' from a smaller nearby church, and it was a joy to spend time with them, get to know them a bit, and watch the entire group gel.

We spent one afternoon helping clean up along the banks of the Seine River, joking about wildlife such as gators, killer rabbits ala Monty Python, and killer deer. I learned today that apparently in Winnipeg there's a law against provoking alligators...does that mean there are actually some there?! Glad I didn't know that at the time... :P

Our group at Grand Beach, Manitoba

At the youth gathering, there was a bookstore. It  prompted a post I've been thinking about for a while, and a sequel post I hope to do, which will be about materials that should either be avoided, or read with great caution, discernment, and simply for research purposes. For today though, here are five indispensable books for anyone who wants to make sure their church is teaching solid theology. Children and youth are not the future of the church, they are as much a piece of the church now as any adult, and all elders, pastors, teachers, and volunteers should be aware of these resources.

NUMBER 1: The Lutheran Study Bible (LSB)
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that Lutherans value the teachings of Martin Luther over the teachings of the Bible. Actually, while I suppose some misguided Lutherans might do that, really what we, or I specifically, since I can't speak for all Lutherans, value are Luther's explanations and teaching of Biblical theology and parts of Christian doctrine like the Creeds. The LSB is a wealth of information brimming with footnotes, prayers, historical information, a checklist for reading through the Bible cover-to-cover, and extra resource pages. For instance, if you want to know why Lutherans believe what Lutherans believe about communion, turn to the page between Revelation chapters 19 and 20 in a copy of the LSB, and you will find a whole page on communion, cross-referenced to the applicable Bible verses. SO HANDY! Anyone in leadership should have this valuable resource, and read it regularly to explore all of the helpful explanations.

The rest of the books are all in no particular order because I think each of them is as valuable as the others, and they're all different enough that I highly recommend reading them all.

Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules that Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible by Pastor Jonathan Fisk
Read this book and then figure out who in your youth or young adults' group needs to read it, buy a box full, and hand them out like candy that won't rot their teeth or their souls. Beautifully illustrated with steampunk-esq sketches and sprinkled with Star Wars references, Pastor Fisk details seven dangerous trends in North American pop culture Christianity and firmly squelches them with scripture. I've been watching his videos and reading his blogs on Worldview Everlasting for quite some time now, I enjoy his geeky, sarcastic, theologically-sound teaching, and his passion for sound doctrine. When you go to the CPH website to order your copy of the LSB, make sure you pop at least one of these into your cart...

Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do To Stop It by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer
Last fall we gave a copy of this book to each of the youth groups that came to our retreat, and all of the leadership at our church read it. It's published through the excellent ministry 'Answers in Genesis' and while it discusses some deep stuff, it's fairly small and the print is fairly large, making it not too intimidating for people who don't really like to read. Go prayerfully read it now, please! Another excellent book by Ken Ham is The Lie: Evolution, which explains why it's so vital to know and understand God as Creator, and how/why the world tries to undermine Him. It helped me get through geology in my first semester at university, and now there's a revised edition, which I'll have to add to my wishlist. :)

Eutychus Youth: Reaching Youth on the Ledge by Dr. John Oberdeck
Another great resource from CPH, including a study guide, is a dense, well-written, super informative book. The youth gathering actually brought in Dr. Oberdeck to do sessions for the leaders, although they were the same as the one that Trevor and I went to at the LCMS youth symposium in California a year and a half ago, I still picked up a few things that I either hadn't hear last time, or had forgotten. :) Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is a dangerous thing that is undermining Biblical Christianity. So, so, so good. I even have an extra copy that I'll lend you if you're around here...

The Creation Answers Book by Batten, Catchpoole, Sarfati, and Wieland of Creation Ministries International
This handy little book doesn't really need to be read in order - it can just be pulled out and referred to when a specific question about something pops up. Chapter titles include things like "How did the animals fit on Noah's Ark?" and "How did all the different 'races' arise?". It's an brilliant resource to have on hand, and I can't recommended the work of Creation Ministries highly enough.

Bonus book for Alberta Residents!
Tour Guide: Royal Tyrrell Museum by Margaret Helder of the Creation Science Association of Alberta
I haven't read this myself yet, but I have it on very good authority that this is an excellent tool for countering the evolutionist propaganda that is fed to hundreds or even thousands of Albertan school children every year. We're hoping to take a group of youth to Drumheller in the fall, perhaps in conjunction with this event that Creation Ministries is putting on, and are planning to use this book as our tour guide. Check out the book and let me know what you think!

Well, hopefully this suggested your reading list for the rest of the summer! :) If you've read all of these already, then please comment, because I'd love to hear from you! I hope that these suggestions deepen your faith, grow your desire for solid spiritual food, and equip you as a church leader. Youth ministry is my baby, and I'm passionate about doing everything I can to make sure that our kids are getting the best spiritual nourishment they possibly can get. Enjoy!

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