(This is part of a year long series of resource reviews I've been doing. 52 resources in 52 weeks. You can see all the reviews in one place here)
OVERALL - When Church Kids Go Bad by Les Christie, 201 pages, 2008 Zondervan - A look at the issue of discipline and a look at what discipline really means in the world of youth ministry.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? It's probably wise that Christie never uses the word "discipline" in the title of the book. As he acknowledges people have real problems with that word. He carefully lays out what he's talking about, the different approaches to it, the rationale behind it and how it can be applied both generally and in "problem cases". The book is careful to present all the ideas from a solid Scriptural basis while remaining solidly reality based. Christie is also very good about noting the needs for the youth leaders to be disciplined and talks about those time when it can break down for us (and him) as well. It's a solid look at a very important issue for youth ministries of all sizes.
RESERVATIONS - BUT IT'S NOT THE BOOK I WAS HOPING FOR! I was about half way through when I realized this fact. The sub-title is "How to Love and Work With Rude, Obnoxious and Apathetic Students". So I had gone into it thinking I was going to get some great ideas on how to inspire kids in the ministries. To be fair you do get some of that but it's not until Chapter 10 on page 126. The vast majority of the book is just on how to create a sane, loving environment (that really is the goal for proper discipline) and very little on how to handle and inspire the toughest, most challenging kids. Plus he perpetuates the outdated myth that sweets causes increases in activity levels. The majority of the studies out there do NOT link sugar with hyperactivity. Even worse the sub-chapter titled "Reduce or Eliminate Sweet Treats" talks mostly about a study that recommends limiting treats with additives or artificial coloring based on a 2007 study. This section should have been better presented and researched. I hate, hate, HATE finding these kinds of clunker sections in books like this.
RECOMMENDATION SIGH. The vast majority of this book is really good at what it's about. If you're looking for a discussion of how to bring a faith based and faith filled method of "discipline" (it's not a bad word folks)to your ministry then I heartily recommend it. It will help you understand why your youth may be acting the way they are, your part in those actions and how to make it work for everyone. If the title suggests to you what it did to me then I think you'll be a little disappointed.