Having worked in youth ministry for eight years of my life, I understand what it means when a youth pastor says “you never know what today will bring.” Sometimes this applies to the skills that are not formally on your job description like running sound, cleaning the bathrooms, or figuring out the right combination of baking soda for that one game which is probably a bad idea to play.

But we also know that teenagers are going through a lot of change in their lives. Having a book on hand for when you are forewarned about a crisis might be nice to have. Nobody expects a pastor to be an expert in crisis, but getting a quick three page crash course on a topic might be just what you need for a situation.

At the very least, teenagers have further development to do. Their brains are not fully developed until 21 and 23 for women and men respectively. Hormones are also happening, formal identities for teens begin to form outside of their family identity, and they become attracted to the opposite sex.

This doesn’t even include broken homes, abuse to the teenager, trauma, mental illness, substance misuse, or suicide. How does God speak into these situations? What do you need to say or not say? Who and what should you be reporting? This is a very practical guide for you to follow.

The authors write from a place of wisdom with Rich Van Pelt an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Rich serves as Director of Ministry Relationships with Compassion International, and Jim Hancock having worked for over 20 years with teenagers in a church.

It should be noted that this is not written from a clinical perspective as neither of these people have clinical backgrounds. Yet, I believe they do a great job of understanding mental illness is more than, as they put it, “youth ministry hunches” and we should push to empower and equip pastors in this manner.

As always, you should have a process for referring someone to professional counseling after a predetermined number of times meeting, but it will also be expected you handle crisis issues as they arise. That being said, while I understand this book cannot cover all things, I think it would help to address clinical counseling with regards to the youth pastor, some other mental health disorders, and newer issues like technology which are not covered in the latest edition.

I give this book a 4 out of 5. Share in the comments what you think of this book and how it has helped you.

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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