3 December 2018

review: Amaze Them With God by Kevin DeYoung

Stui Chaplin

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There is no end of books on youth ministry that begin with the oft-repeated trope that the church in the West is haemorrhaging young people at an alarming rate.

While we must take seriously the vast gospel need among the next generation, there is a danger of searching for some missing secret ingredient that will draw young people back. As youth workers, we can put ourselves under enormous pressure to be the solution to the problem, putting ourselves on a dangerous and discouraging treadmill, chasing down the latest crazes. Kevin DeYoung helpfully encourages us to view things a little differently. “As you try to reach the next generation for Christ, you can amaze them with your cleverness, your humour, or your looks. Or you can amaze them with God” (p. 32-33).

As you try to reach the next generation for Christ, you can amaze them with your cleverness, your humour, or your looks. Or you can amaze them with God"

DeYoung doesn’t claim to hold the secret for reaching the next generation for Christ, in fact he argues that there is no secret to discover, instead we need to concentrate on being like Christ, just as faithful believers have sought to do since the church began. He outlines five key ways that being an ordinary disciple will commend the gospel to the next generation.

1.

First, we need a passionate devotion to the gospel that will inspire young people, rather than a lukewarm casual indifference to Christ.

2.

Second, we need to be unashamedly people of love as Jesus commanded us (John 13:35), rather than chasing after social identification with young people.

3.

Third, we need be seeking to model progress in holiness (1 Tim 4:15), rather than compromising for the sake of relevance.

4.

Fourth, we must hold out gospel truth through ‘bold, deep biblical preaching’ (p. 25), rather than presenting shallow watered-down moral therapeutic deism.

5.

Fifth, we must ‘trust God that he is enough to win the hearts and minds of the next generation’ (p. 30), rather than relying on the attractive power of the latest gimmick that we have discovered.
In just under 40 pages, DeYoung was never going to provide an exhaustive model or framework for youth discipleship, but that was never the purpose of this book. Instead, the principles that he highlights present every youth leader with an achievable and thoroughly biblical pattern to live out their faith so that young people will be introduced to the Lord Jesus. It’s certainly a book worth putting in the hands of every volunteer leader in your church as you seek to encourage them in a biblical vision for youth ministry.

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