A Review of Max Q by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall
Okay, let me start off by saying The Seven Checkpoints is one of the best books I have ever read about youth ministry. I used the concepts and ideas all the time. I read that book in about three days and gleaned so much from it. So, I was very excited to start reading Max Q. At first, because of a mishap with a not so bright phone operator at Harvest, I received the Student Journal in the mail. I leafed through it but didn't take a lot of time with it. Then finally my leader's hardback copy arrived from Amazon.
The concept of the book is that our students are at critical mass everyday in their world. They are under huge pressure all the time. We need to prepare them for the world. We need to help them understand how they can be people of influence to the world around them. The book speaks of how our students can be the light in the dark world of their schools and work places.
I agree completely with the theory of this book. I believe that our youth ministries need to be preparing our students for the opportunity to affect the real world. I think one of the hardest parts of being a Youth Pastor at my current church is that we have such a large home schooled group of teens (51% of our total group are home schooled) that they just don't know any non-Christians. I have heard that come from them every time we speak about evangelism. That concept makes me sad. It is as though the parents in our congregation, in an effort to shield their children from evil, have removed them as influencers in the world. This book encourages wisely handled friendships with non-Christians. It presupposes that if we have prepared our students for the "real world" then they can become influences on their non-believing peers.
There is caution given by the authors that students need to be careful to be sure they are always doing the influencing. It also encourages us as leaders to remind students of grace if they fail. I think Stanley and Hall are right on in their assessment of the need for Christian students to be making a lasting impact on the spiritual life of their friends.
Where I think the book is weak is in the area of how that works out practically. I think that time and time again they go back to the point that students should be doing this without offering situations where they can actually be living out this concept. It gives some hows but I think in all it had to say, the book of about 225 pages was way too long. I found it very repetitive. Again, I agree with the concepts but felt like they offered me a challenge without helping me to see how to obtain the goal.
I have discussed the concepts of the book with my Senior High Guys Small Group and we agree the need is there. I have encouraged them to be on their toes and remember they are always representing Christ. The book was a great reminder of that concept. I just wish it would have spent less time on proving the need for such relationships and more time on how I can help my students live that life out in a practical way.