Better Safe Than Sued - Keeping Your Students and Ministry Alive By: Jack Crabtree 236 pages Published by Zondervan/YouthSpecialties
OVERALL - A complete (and I mean COMPLETE) overview of safety issues of all kinds related to youth ministry at virtually any level.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? Crabtree has 35+ years experience as a youth leader most notably with Youth For Christ. What he has created here is a must read book for youth ministers. Reading the stories provided brought back every oversight and injury that has happened in my ministry (more than a few of them happened to me!). It also made me think carefully about a couple of things we're still doing. While the author is quick to point out that the book isn't "complete" (meaning that it can't cover everything)it does cover everything likely to happen. Sections on staff selection, bullying, camps and retreats, traveling, sports for all seasons, accidents, even the death of a youth (which he lived through personally and right in front of his eyes. It's one of the most compelling and heart rending parts of the book). What I REALLY appreciated is the chapter devoted to theological questions related to safety in ministry. He takes on the whole issue of the sovereignty of Christ and the power of prayer and how they intersect with what needs to be done.
RESERVATIONS I'm not sure how you avoid it given the subject but the book becomes something of a downer after a while. It really becomes a case of "Oh my God, I don't want to read about any more accidents". In reality it's all a must read.
RECOMMENDATION If I were going to create an intro package for new youth ministers (which might not be a bad idea) I'd start with this book. Yes, it'll scare the pants off a certain percentage of them. That just might be a good idea. It forces you to think about an area most of us would probably rather ignore. Right up to the moment when one of our kids gets hurt. It's also a great resource if you've been doing ministry for a while. Not only as a refresher but because he includes a section on checking an ongoing ministry for its safety standards. Really good stuff.