It doesn't happen as often as I'd like, but I LOVE it when an author hits a home run on a faith resource teenagers. Scott Rubin does exactly that in his little book, The Essential Guide to My New Life with Jesus.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Scott is an old friend of mine (well, Scott is old and we've been friends for a long time). We also worked together at Willow Creek for a handful of years and have spent lots of time together over the past 15 years or so in middle school gatherings and teaching together. So, when he wrote this book he asked if he could send me a copy to see what I think. Of course! Who doesn't love a free book!?!?
I trust Scott on a hundred levels.
One, he's the real deal. So when he writes a book, I trust that he's not just blowing fake smoke somewhere unmentionable. Scott is an authentic, follower of Jesus Christ. He's humble and gifted, smart and silly, a great leader and a fabulous pastor. I'd love him to be my kids' pastor someday.
Two, Scott has worked with middle school students at the same church for a bazillion years (I told you he was old). It's hard to stay in the same place for a long time. So, Scott knows what he's talking about when he writes to middle schoolers.
Three, because Scott's been in this game for a bazillion years he carries both the language of a middle schooler and the wisdom weight for that crowd. He has the cool factor tethered to a spiritual maturity that's necessary for great middle school ministry.
Four, I trust his theology. He's not toting any moralistic therapeutic deism. He's not talking about behavioral, sin management. He majors on the majors. He winsomely talks about how students can have a relationship with Jesus in the context of the broader church, now and historically.
Five, this book is visually really well laid out. It's artistically compelling. There's space for students to take notes and write commitments, thoughts, and questions. It simply looks good - colorful, fun fonts, graphically appealing. That's important. I trust him on 95 other levels just like I mentioned but I'll stop with those Top 5. :)
I wish I would've written this book! Scott finally wrote it because as a middle school pastor, because for years he wished for a resource like this for his own students. So, he finally did something about it and wrote the book himself. Kudos, Rubin!
I hope every youth ministry and family picks up a bunch of copies for the teenagers in your sphere that are making decisions about Jesus. This is the perfect book to give them to launch them on their faith journey.