Youth ministry succeeds because it directly reflects Jesus Christ's approach. It's not overvalued today; it's undervalued. The hard work required for its success has been misunderstood and misrepresented. The first part of the book establishes that case and analyzes the pros and cons of current, varying philosophies and approaches, merging their best aspects into the holistic approach demonstrated by Christ. Part 2 introduces Attachment Relationship Ministry (ARM), a lens distinguishing four primary adolescent relational styles depending on how secure or insecure teens are with God and parents. Part 3 encourages strategic relational ministry sensitive to those styles, explaining why youth leader efforts succeed or fail. Chapters offer realistic discipleship and evangelism suggestions depending on attachment styles and practically empowering youth workers (volunteers, newbies, experts, and interns) to focus energy and time more wisely. These recommendations relate to spiritual formation, leadership selection, parental approach, and trending issues, such as ministry to LGBTQIA teens. For too many teens today, feeling insecure in crisis is a way of life. Learn how to take what you've done well and make it better. All church leaders should read this book, logging the critical importance of providing ministry specifically targeting teenagers today. ""Ron Belsterling has been a respected voice among those of us who train college students for youth ministry for years. In this book he offers readers a gift of scholarship, passion, thoughtfulness, creativity, and encouragement . . . If you do youth ministry, if you care about youth ministry, you need to read this book!"" --Duffy Robbins, author of Building a Youth Ministry that Builds Disciples ""'Youth ministry as an experiment has failed.' So said the late, great Mike Yaconelli . . . But for some of us, it really doesn't feel that way . . . Ron speaks with the authority of one who has been there, done it, and collected the coffee travel mug 'lifer' award. He is passionate about youth and is a welcome voice in pushing back on those hunting for easy targets."" --Andy du Feu, Moorlands College, Christchurch, UK ""Ron Belsterling imparts seasoned and time-tested youth ministry wisdom that will help us well as we equip kids for a lifetime of passionately seeking, loving, and serving Christ. For the seasoned youth worker, this book will rekindle your passion by challenging you to think in new ways about youth ministry. And for those just starting out, Ron will help you build a strong ministry foundation that will serve you well."" --Walt Mueller, author of 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers ""Ron Belsterling is a seasoned veteran of both youth ministry and of research on relationships and how they impact people's relationship with God . . . He brings a deep understanding of how relationships develop, what hinders securely attached relationships, and how youth ministry ought to be done with youth who have different past experiences in relationships with their parents and with God."" --Kevin Lawson, author of Supervising and Supporting Ministry Staff ""Equipping the next generations to follow Christ is the highest calling of ministry. In this thorough overview, Ron Belsterling has captured this biblical vision and offered an inspirational call to youth ministry coupled with a practical, strategic guidebook. At a time when many communities are worried about the well-being of teenagers . . . A Defense of Youth Ministry is a remarkably refreshing resource."" --Ken Castor, author of Grow Down; Make a Difference ""I hope this book is seen for what it is, an intense look at the needs and means of reaching and leading the next generation . . . Ron is a peacemaker as defined by Jesus in Matthew 5, a true son of God fighting to see the world of youth ministry, families, and the church growing in partnership."" --Dale Patrick, Sr. High Ministry Pastor, Grace Church, Middleburg Heights, Ohio
Rev. Ron Belsterling currently teaches Youth Ministry for Lancaster Bible College and Capital Seminary. Ron studied family, education, psychology, and theology at Grove City College, Pittsburgh Theological and Talbot Seminaries as well as Villanova and Syracuse Universities. Ministry experience includes serving God through the church, parachurch, clinical counseling, and varied board leadership, including the Association of Youth Ministry Educators. He speaks and writes on broad ministry topics and enjoys hiking, sports, biking, reading, and games.