It was a privilege to meet Tim at the Premier Digital Awards 2016 – we both won awards and were seated at the same table. When I found out that he had written a book I was really pleased for him and excited to get my hands on a copy. It was so refreshing to read his words – his passion for Jesus and young people is infectious, effective and something that youth leaders, volunteers and churchgoers need to read.
Tim writes with a background in youth work that spans over a decade and he shares many stories throughout of the good, the bad and the ugly of youth ministry. He writes with humour and honesty which was very relatable and kept me turning the pages for more. It was very easy to read and it was broken down into manageable chapters and sections.
Throughout the chapters there were boxes to ask questions titled ‘what about you?’ to encourage reflection at certain points in the book. Tim also provides a useful summary at the end of each chapter which revisits the main points through an acronym, further questions for reflection and a helpful sidebar written by others who have experience in youth work and bring their wisdom for consideration.
I really love how Tim sets out the chapters following the different sections of the Bible that make up its overarching narrative (Pentateuch, History Books, Wisdom Literature, Psalms, Prophets, Gospels, Acts and Epistles) and draws out eight essential biblical foundations for youth work in each one. There is a fantastic diagram in the conclusion which visually depicts and summarises the main points from the book and is designed to be supra-cultural, being true regardless of context or culture.
This isn’t a book about particulars of practical youth work and this is mentioned from the outset. Rather, it is a book of essentials for biblical youth work – looking at what is found in the Bible and going back to that as the foundation for all of youth ministry. Young people need that foundation and so do the youth workers who are leading them.
‘Young people are growing roots everywhere, and they’re looking for solid ground – both spiritually and practically.’ (pg. 3)
I found it interesting throughout the book that the role of the youth worker is mentioned as a facilitator. Young people should grow into their own relationship with Jesus and not rely solely on the youth worker, the whole church should be involved in supporting the ministry and where possible, the parents should be supported to nurture their children and teenagers in the faith as they spend the most time with them.
This book would have made ideal reading when I was a youth work trainee, yet it is extremely important and relevant for any church attender or worker. We could all do with a reboot to make sure our foundations are in the Bible. It covers essential aspects of church life from worship, discipleship and mission to personal study, teaching and serving and much more. There is so much wonderful wisdom taken from the source of all wisdom – God’s Word – and it is extremely needed in today’s society where biblical illiteracy is all too common and perhaps, as church, we neglect the essentials for the particulars.
Tim Gough is Director of Llandudno Youth For Christ, Wales, and has been a full-time youth worker for over a decade. He studied at Oxford University, Oak Hill and Cliff College. He hosts the multi-award-winning blog www.youthworkhacks.com. Tim is passsionate about training and speaks on youth work at events across the UK.