Book Review: Parent’s Guide to Understanding Sex & Dating

parents-guide-sex-and-datingLast year I did a parent seminar called “Social Media 101” and in preparation for that seminar I read Mark Oestreicher and Adam Mclane’s book A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media. I really enjoyed that book and would highly recommend it to parents. A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Sex & Dating by Mark Oestreicher and Joel Mayward is another book in this series that I really enjoyed and would also recommend to parents.

Packed in this little book is a ton of helpful information for parents (and youth workers) about teen sex and dating. Oestreicher and Mayward start the book with laying a theological foundation for sex. Whenever we talk about things regarding sex it’s always important to go back to the theological foundation God put in place for sex, marriage, and relationships. I love how they started the book with this and even explained how the fact humans have been created in the “image of God” (imago dei) impacts how our sexuality. On that Biblical foundation the writers deal with myths from culture and the church about sex (chapter 2), gender-specific sexual issues (chapter 3), how to talk to your teenager about sex and creating boundaries for dating (chapter 4-5), and covering specific issues in regards to sex and dating such as masturbation, homosexuality, oral sex, and modesty (chapter 6).

As much as I liked this book, I did however disagree with some of the writers conclusions on a few of the sexual issues they covered in the last chapter, namely masturbation and homosexuality.

In regards to masturbation, they say, “Masturbation is one of those subjects that Christians have done a horrible job of addressing” (page 59). I totally agree with that. Masturbation is a subject many times in the church we overlook and don’t address while teenagers, especially guys, are struggling with this addictive habit. However, the writers seem to simply dismiss masturbation is an issue that is normal for teens (being part of their development) and we shouldn’t worry too much about it. I have a hard time being ok with that conclusion. I do not believe the act of masturbation is a sin. There is no verse in the Bible that says it is. However, masturbation and lust are linked. One cannot masturbate without lusting (well maybe 1 in 1 billion people can). Also, I would argue that God’s plan if for a man and a woman to come together in sex and when one masturbates that receive sexual gratification in a way different from what God has planned. Because of that, I think masturbation is an issue we need to address with teens and help them see it’s closely linked to lust, which is clearly a sin, and goes against God’s plan for sex.

Not only did the writers conclusion on masturbation not sit well with me, their conclusion on homosexuality was a little fuzzy and not clear. They seemed to skip around the issue of homosexuality being a sin and just addressed how we should respond to teens struggling with this issue. I agree we need to respond better than the church has in the past towards homosexuality and we need to love and help those grapple with their sexuality, but at the end of the day homosexuality is a sin and we must call it a sin.

Overall I really enjoyed this book and it gave me a better understanding of teen sex and dating. It also helped me understand how important parents are in this area and how I can encourage them to shepherd their child in the area of their sexuality. I would recommend parents of teenagers to grab a copy of this little book and read it. It will help you understand you minister and shepherd your teen immensely.

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Book Review: Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media

A-Parent-s-Guide-to-Understanding-Social-Media-Oestreicher-Mark-9780764484636In preparation for a parent seminar on social media I am doing this week, I picked up a copy of Mark Oestreicher and Adam Mclane’s  little book Parent’s Guide to Understanding Social Media. I was blown away by this book! It’s a short book (I read it in about 45 min.), but it’s loaded with facts about social media sites, what teens are doing on those sites, and practical advice for how parents can handle social media when it comes to their teens.

This helpful book informs parents about everything they need to know about social media and their teens. It tells them what social media is all about, what teens are actually doing with social media, the psychological impact of social media on teens, what parents need to remind their teens about social media, and of course practical advice on how to deal with social media and their teenager in regards to their parenting.

The main thing I enjoyed about this book and why I would highly recommend it to parents is how Mark and Adam wrote it with preparation in mind rather than protection. “The focus of this book, then, isn’t ‘circle the wagons’ mentality. If you want a book to tell you the internet is evil, you can find that elsewhere. Our goal, instead, is to move from building walls of protection to shaping a focus on understanding social media and earning trust that moves your teenager towards adulthood” (page 8-9). Did you catch that? Mark and Adam says the main goal of parenting is not just protecting your kids, but preparing them to move towards adulthood. I couldn’t agree more. I too believe that parents must move from a mindset of protecting their teens to a mindset of preparing their teens. Click here to read a post I wrote on this topic a few months ago.

Another thing I liked about this book was the amount of practical advice Mark and Adam shared. They wrote a whole chapter on practical ways you can parent your teen when it comes to social media. Some of the advice they give is things they did or do with their teens or something they have heard of other parents doing. Either way, they share easy ways to help understand and communicate with your teen about social media.

In my opinion, this is a must have book for parents of teens. Teens are on social media networks and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Parents cannot just hope it will go away and pray their teens use it wisely. Parents need to understand and engage social media in a way that they know what their teens are doing as well as to know how to prepare them for adulthood. Now go grab a copy of this book for yourself! Click here to purchase it for only a few bucks on Amazon.

Freebie: “Youth Ministry Tips & Ideas” by Tim Schmoyer

A few weeks ago, I posted a review of Mark Oestreicher book A Beautiful Mess. As I said in that review, it was one of the best student ministry books I have read in a long time. That book is part of a series of books from Group and Simply Youth Ministry called Everyday Youth Ministry. Today I want to share with you another book from that series called Youth Ministry Tips & Ideas by Tim Schmoyer for FREE!

I have already downloaded this book and started reading it. So far it’s been really good! Tim shares practical tips and ideas that will help you when you feel like your “stuck” in your student ministry. Sometimes we run out of ideas and this book will help you with that. I would recommend everyone in student ministry to have this book handy for the next time you need a fresh idea or looking for a practical student ministry tip.

Here is a quick bio of Tim Schmoyer from the Everyday Youth Ministry website:

Founder of Life In Student Ministry and is dedicated to facilitating discussions among Christian youth workers about youth ministry. He is the author of the Youth Specialties/Zondervan book Life In Student Ministry: Practical Conversations on Thriving in Youth Ministry, a national youth leader trainer, speaker, and a super-volunteer at his church.

Click here to download Youth Ministry Tips & Ideas by Tim Schmoyer

Book Review: A Beautiful Mess

A few weeks ago I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and saw a link to a free download of Mark Oestreicher new book called A Beautiful Mess. This book is part of a series of books from Simply Youth Ministry and Group called Everyday Youth Ministry. I have a few of the books in this series and have enjoyed each one! Recently, I just finished reading A Beautfilul Mess by Mark Oestreicher.

It seems like every time you turn around there is a new youth ministry book that is promoting a new “model” or “philosophy” of youth ministry. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against these types of books and many of them have been instrumental in shaping my own philosophy of youth ministry (click here to check out my personal youth ministry philosophy). But far too often as youth pastors and youth workers, we look to the next “big thing” and quickly abandon what we are doing for the sake of doing youth ministry differently. This is not always bad because in a changing youth culture, we must be changing the way we minister to students in that culture. But we must not get caught up in what’s wrong with our youth ministry and quickly jump to trying something new. We need to realize a lot of what we are doing is working and actually making a different in the life’s of students for the sake of the Gospel!

This is why Mark Oestreicher book, A Beautiful Mess, was such a breathe of fresh air for me! Finally, a youth ministry book that didn’t talk about what is wrong with youth ministry, but actually explained what is right with youth ministry! Mark explains some of the current things in youth ministry that are working and bringing fruit in the life’s of our students. He helps us see that the glass is half full, not half empty. This book allows youth pastors and youth workers to be encouraged and walk away feeling like they are making a difference, because they really are making a difference! Mark admits that we must not resist change because we always need to be changing the way we do student ministry, but we must not change for the sake of change. We are doing some things right in youth ministry and let’s see the glass half full and continue serving students with the love of Christ.

I would recommend this book for anyone involved in youth ministry. This book will help you identity some of the things we are doing right in student ministry and encourage by reminding us we are making a difference! Click here to download this book for FREE for a limited time. If the free offer expires time you see this, you can still purchase a copy of the book for a great, low price here.