In today’s instant gratification world obsessed with curating the perfect online presence to gain followers and likes, teenagers are more isolated and lonelier than ever. Middle and high school kids are longing to be chased, seen, and loved—and the gospel is the only answer to their questions, hurt, and desire for belonging. Unfortunately, parents and youth ministry leaders in the lives of young adults are missing opportunities not only to share the gospel with teenagers but to share their very lives as well. In this pivotal developmental time for teens, Christian communities neglect to care for them well, and too often, youth ministries and parents focus on behavioral change rather than heart change.
In Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel (New Growth Press/August 20, 2018), author Drew Hill invites readers to step into intentional, relational youth ministry while viewing teenagers through a gospel lens. This transformative book on youth ministry serves as an invaluable tool to anyone pursuing teenagers with the hope of the gospel. It provides practical help through a biblical framework and addresses challenging questions regarding how to reach teenagers and how Jesus cares for them and uses parents and youth leaders to rescue them.
“I’ve been doing youth ministry for twenty years,” shares Hill, pastor and Young Life leader. “I have met with hundreds of parents who have been trying to figure out how to connect with their teenagers and communicate the gospel to them in a way their kids would understand. I’ve often wished I had one go-to resource that I could hand them, and I’ve never been able to find it, so I decided to put a lot of my thoughts down in one place.”
Hill is quick to note that he has been extremely privileged to have incredible people walk alongside him at an early age, including his parents, pastors, and youth leaders. Hill planned to write two different books: one for parents of teenagers and another for those in youth ministry. “As I started in on the process, I realized so much of the content was applicable for both,” he says. “I also thought it would be helpful for youth workers to try and step into the shoes of parents and vice versa.”
Alongside encourages simple yet life-changing practices such as learning names, showing up and remaining consistent in teens’ lives, and sharing the good and the bad with teenage friends. By understanding the world of teenagers better and sharing their lives with adolescents, parents and youth leaders can earn the right to be heard and walk alongside young adults through the dark places of shame, broken hearts, and questions such as, “Am I good enough?” or “Could Jesus really know and love me?”
By pointing to the person of Jesus and how the Father rescues his children, Hill beautifully illustrates what it looks like to intentionally come alongside teenagers and love them with the hope of the gospel. “I hope readers, both parents and those in youth ministry, primarily experience a deeper understanding of how loved they are by a God who has come alongside them—who has pursued them,” Hill says. “I hope they fall more in love with Jesus and the teenagers in their lives. I pray they would feel a greater empathy toward what it’s like to be a teenager in today’s world.”
Hill writes, consults, and regularly speaks to teenagers, parents, and youth workers. Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel is his first book.
Drew and his wife, Natalie, have three children: Honey, Hutch and Macy Heart.