Youth Ministry – It’s Tough Stuff and No Pizza Party (Review of New Parenting/Youth Ministry Book)

When you think of “youth ministry,” the first images that come to mind might well be lock-ins, scavenger hunts, fundraisers, and maybe a “youth Sunday” or some other focus on teens who behave themselves, show up at church, and take part in such tame activities.

But real youth ministry is tough stuff. In my years as a mom of teens, I regularly (like on an almost daily basis) dealt with homeless teens, runaway teens, teens coming out as gay, teens hauled into the juvenile court system, depressed and stressed teens, and teens on hard-core drugs. Does this sound like the walk in the park that most churches portray as youth ministry?

New Book Recommendation: Helping Teens with Stress, Anxiety, and Depression by Roy Petitfils

An excellent book for parents of teens, youth ministers, and teachers has just come out. The author is both a seasoned youth minister in the Catholic Church and a therapist. His expertise shines through and offers a brutally honest but loving view of life with teens (and often with Cajun charm).

Petifils covers all the stress points a parent or youth worker needs to know about: teenage depression and anxiety, self-harm, thoughts of suicide, drug use, and the many challenges teens face in school and on social media. He is clearly in touch with teen culture and has seen it all.  The author encourages spending time and forming relationships with teens, despite feelings of inadequacy on the part of adults. This book both reassured and inspired me.

Highly recommended, especially for parents with children going into this difficult stage of life. Just published on March 8, 2019; available in paperback for about $14 and on Kindle for $9.99 as of this writing.

Cynthia Coe is the author of Christian Nurture in the Twenty-First Century and several Christian formation curricula for children and teens. Visit her Author Page on Amazon for more information and a complete list of her books.


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