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The Beautiful Disciplines
Helping Young People to Develop Their Spiritual Roots
by Martin Saunders
Publisher:Monarch imprint of Lion Hudson
At first glance, the title, The Beautiful Disciplines, may not appear very inspiring to anyone working with young people; however, on closer inspection there is much to recommend this book.
It is a resource for youth workers rooted in the author’s premise that modern Christian youth discipleship is producing brittle disciples. Martin Saunders’ conclusion arose out of countless conversations with youth workers and teenagers and he states in his introduction that, ‘the work we do with young people in their childhood and adolescence does not seem to ensure that those individuals retain an active faith into adulthood.’
His stated aim is to, ‘resource youth workers to equip young people with the tools to build direct connections with God. It hinges on the idea that the Spiritual disciplines… contain the power to strengthen and reinforce brittle young disciples, and so ensure that their faith endures the leap, pitfalls and changes of season that lie on the path to adulthood.’
As editor of Youthwork magazine, a volunteer youth worker for almost a decade and author of 10 books, Martin is well qualified to write such a resource as this and brings all of his experience to its production. As a result what we have here is an eminently usable and practical resource for all those seeking to assist young people in developing and deepening their faith through a disciplined, direct relationship with God.
There is an excellent, clear introduction to the principles involved; photocopiable resources and an adaptable 11 week course. The first week sets out to introduce the course, with the following ten weeks covering; prayer, study, fasting, meditation, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, worship and celebration. The author’s understanding of young people and what makes them tick is very evident throughout the book.
Each session has an introduction for the youth leader which helps them to fully understand and engage with the principles involved; ‘First steps’, a selection of story based discussion starters which introduce the theme and lead into a series of questions intended to get the young people talking; ‘Adaptable meeting guides’, involving games, activities, discussions, Bible study and engagement with the disciplines; and ‘Going deeper’, resources to provide extra activities aimed at continuing the exploration of the Disciplines, which often encourages personal reflection and response.
The sessions are firmly rooted in biblical principles, the spiritual disciplines through which Christians have been deepening their relationship with God since the early days of Christianity and a real understanding of young people. This is an accessible and very adaptable resource which will prove invaluable to all those concerned with deepening the faith of their young people.
Reviewer: Chris Low (30/07/12)