While on our planes to and from vacation I managed to read The Seven Checkpoints, by Andy Stanley and Stuart Hall. The book is written primarily for youth leaders and outlines a strategy for effectively teaching students over the course of their time in school. Stanley and Hall identify seven “checkpoints” that are the most important and critical issues facing teens:
- Authentic Faith
- Spiritual Disciplines
- Moral Boundaries (this section deals primarily with issues of sexual purity and dating)
- Healthy Friendships
- Wise Choices
- Ultimate Authority
- Others First
These seven categories are obviously pretty broad, but they do cover a lot of ground, and are all certainly critical and relevant issues for teens. (The trick, of course, is that these are also critical and relevant issues for youth leaders, and everybody else for that matter…). The book is an easy read and full of practical advice and anecdotes that will be useful for those working with students.
I don’t know that I’m totally 100% on board with the Seven Checkpoints methodology though. Hall and Stanley recommend orienting basically all of one’s teaching and content around one of these seven principles, and planning a calendar around them accordingly. My only hesitation here is that it does not leave as much room for studies through particular books of the Bible or character studies. I think these kinds of studies are important because they will provide a better foundation in terms of doctrine and will also hopefully model for the students how they can get into Scripture themselves. My vision for student ministry would be very participatory in nature, including the way I would do teaching and studies.
That being said, the Seven Checkpoints is definitely worth reading and learning from. The seven areas they outline certainly need to be emphasized often. It’s refreshing to see a book on youth ministry that is more concerned with content than events and gimmicks. I think it’s a great book to hand youth workers.