Ministry Journey Blog

Thoughts on Ministry

27 Oct

Product Review:The Graduate’s Survival Guide

Posted in Uncategorized on 27.10.11 by Merlyn

Published in Youth Worker Journal- Date: November/December 2011

The Graduate’s Survival Guide

Rachel Cruze

Lampo Press, 2011, 132 pp., $19.95,

Finances and college life are not exactly the most entertaining or hot topics to cover in your youth group, and youth and even parents might not think these topics are worthy of air time in your youth ministry.  Yet these topics and issues are very important to the youth in our churches, especially those who will soon be learning to manage their freedom and independence after high school.

The Graduate’s Survival guide includes a DVD with four short sessions as well as a Q & A book about college life and financial management. The vignettes on the DVD are informational conversations covering topics such as roommate relationships, college finances, student loans, registering for classes, marketing to college students and other aspects of college life. The book provides answers to a variety of questions on topics including credit cards, student loans, financial planning, working while in school, career planning and more.

This product could be helpful to parents thinking about and discussing college life with their teenagers. It can serve as a great tool for creating healthy dialogue about various aspects of college life. The short video clips address a wide variety of topics important to college life, and the length and organization of these clips makes them easy to use. The product does not address all of the topics claims to address, at least not with depth and clarity. This product may not reach most teenagers, because it is geared entirely to those who are going away for college. There is little conversation about faith and the impact one’s faith has on the issues being addressed. The product does not feel developmentally appropriate and many youth who watch the clips may have trouble connecting with the individuals in the clips as they appear to be the perfect kids many of our youth feel like they cannot measure up or relate to.

Buy this product if you are looking to help parents engage in dialogue with their youth, especially if you are looking for a resource for families to use with their youth who are preparing for college. Do not purchase this product if you are looking for a tool to use with your whole youth group to talk about college life and finances. While I enjoyed the product, it would not land with my youth group, so I would not be likely to purchase it.

Rev. Marcus J Carlson

Associate Pastor, Bethel Lutheran Church, Colorado Springs, CO (

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18 Oct

Book Review-the 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell

Posted in Uncategorized on 18.10.11 by Merlyn

Book Review

Published on Book Sneeze & Amazon

Book Review

The 360 Leader by John C. Maxwell

This book by John Maxwell seeks to look at leadership from all possible angles and to discover what it means to lead those above, around, and below you in any organization.  The author points out that most leaders will never be the top leader in their organization and yet, they are called to lead. He argues that serving as a leader who is neither the top leader, nor someone at the bottom of the organization provides a tremendous opportunity to lead in every direction. This book describes the journey of this kind of leader in a very fascinating and comprehensive way, offering many leadership principles and strategies.

This is one of many books by John Maxwell that I have read and I have always enjoyed his work. He is one of the better writers on leadership and a fountain of knowledge and experience. This was by far the longest of his works that I read and was very different from some of his other work. While it was beneficial, informational and inspirational, it was more focused, comprehensive and rigorous than some of his other works that seem more thematic and inspirational in nature. The best word to describe this book is comprehensive. In some ways, the book could be easily used as a leadership textbook. It included many aspects of Maxwell’s other work and while it was difficult to soak in all of this information in a way that could lead to immediate application, I also found myself wishing that he took it further and chose to include all of the key principles of previous work in this book. There is a plethora of wonderful information in this book and the book is written in an easy to read and follow format, even though it may be impossible to retain and apply all of the information in this book. The book includes various activities and opportunities to engage with the material that could be very helpful to the reader. I also think this book could be used with a group for study and discussion to facilitate growth of individual leaders, the group and the organizations they serve.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Rev. Marcus J Carlson

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