I have found that it is pretty challenging finding good Christian books to recommend to my students. They are either miles over their heads and turning on the fire hose of theological content and cultural issues that they are nowhere near ready for. Or the opposite is true and they are spoon fed patronizing drivel that treats our students and their context as if it was Kansas in the 1950's.
So you must imagine my surprise when my Amazon order came in with a couple books to preview with the hope that maybe one of them might actually be a good fit for our students; a book that would treat them as the young adults they are and not simplify their issues and not sugar coat their faith, or give them an unrealistic picture of what the Christian life could look like for actual students.
In this batch there was one book that stood head and shoulders above the rest. The book that I decided to use for a study with my incoming seniors was, Not A Fan. (Teen Edition) This book was written by Kyle Idleman as was originally for adults. But the teen version is an absolute home run for students.
I normally wouldn't rave this much about a book, but since we just finished reading it with our students, the impact is fresh. You see, this isn't just a book that youth workers like and think will be good for students. This is a book that has been used and tested with my actual students and their discussion and take-a-ways were incredible!
Because of Kyle Idleman's simple premise, engaging stories, and clear applications, every chapter made for rich discussion among our students. We had our students spend 30 minutes reading a chapter and underlining anything that stood out. Then had them identify any questions that this chapter brought up, and then had them come up with one concrete take away from the chapter. Some of the things we wrestled through were
- The awful reality that they are probably just fans
- The difference between just knowing a lot about Jesus and actually knowing him.
- Why it was easier to give up sleep and money and attention to other things and not Jesus?
- When we confess our brokenness it reveals our need for grace and we actually experience love, so lets do that more.
- What are we really called to deny and give up as a high schooler?
- What are the practical ways we follow Jesus on a high school campus?
If you are looking for a book to read with students to help them take their faith seriously and to the next level, I could not recommend a book more. Read the adult version, take the challenge, and then help your students not be fans but become followers of Jesus!