Building a Youth Ministry that Builds Disciples: Book Review

BY: Dietrich Kirk


by Deech Kirk

Duffy Robbins has been a great gift to my life, not because we have a relationship (we’ve only met twice), but because he has given his life to the profession of youth ministry. He is a standard-bearer for youth ministry. He is not quite there yet, but he will be one of the first lifers who does youth ministry until he retires. Duffy and his peers will make it possible for the generations of youth ministers who come behind to say that youth ministry IS a lifelong call.

Over the years, I have attended a good number of workshops and sessions led by Duffy. At this point, I know what he is going to say because he has been saying it for years. I mean this not as a criticism, but as a compliment. It may not be new and fresh which is fine because those fads change. Instead, it is foundational.

When I was a young youth minister developing my own theology and practice of ministry, Duffy was helpful to me in providing a solid foundational practice of youth ministry. In Building a Youth Ministry that Builds DisciplesDuffy shares this foundational wisdom. At first, I thought I would critique the book because he has said these things before in other books. And if you have read his other work and attended his seminars over the years, this book will sound very familiar. However, those new to the Duffy Robbins school of thought will find that this book is a wonderful foundational piece that speaks to the heart of developing a youth ministry.

There are three important things that I believe Duffy does in this book:

  1. He reminds us that our job is about relationships.
  2. He talks about the importance of developing a plan or blueprint for our ministry.
  3. He gives some solid advice on how to build faith that lasts through our programmed ministry.


While I find all these things helpful, I was a misled by the title. I expected a book that unpacked the process of building programs that help develop or grow disciples. Chapter 6 is about “Intentional Programming” and it was helpful as a starting place, but I thought from the title that Duffy might dive more deeply into the pragmatics of developing this type of ministry. I was disappointed and grateful. Disappointed because that was what I was expecting. Grateful because I plan to write Intentional Discipleship next year.

If you are looking for a book that lays out how to develop programs and a ministry that forms and develops disciples, this book will just scratch the surface or, more appropriately, lay the foundation. However, if you are searching for book to give a great foundation to begin thinking through your ministry with youth, I believe Building a Youth Ministry that Builds Disciples will be helpful.

Thanks to Duffy for trailblazing a path for youth ministers to follow.


Dietrich “Deech” Kirk served as the youth minister of Brentwood United Methodist Church for six years before becoming the Executive Director of the Center for Youth Ministry Training in 2006. He continues to serve as one of Brentwood’s assoicate ministers.  He is one of the co-authors of Now What? Next Steps in Your New Life with Christ. When he is not leading the CYMT, speaking at youth events, or training other youth workers, Deech enjoys spending time with his wife Keeley and daughters Carlisle and Hallie.


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