Sunday, January 18, 2015

Jesus Is ___ Student Edition {a BookLook Blogger review}

I'm always interested in a resource that I can use with my teens or tweens in talking about a real faith and what Christianity really is.  So, I eagerly signed up to review Jesus Is ______. Student Edition, by Judah Smith.

This title is geared towards the 10-14 age range, but I think it works well with kids outside that range as well, such as my nearly 9 year old daughter.  Even my 16- and 17-year-old sons are finding it to be interesting.

Right off the bat, I have to say that we found the bright color to be appealing, without being patronizing.  So many tween/teen resources out there just look like they are trying too hard, and my teens balk at giving them a real look.

You can only say, "You can't judge a book by its cover" so many times.  My teens have determined that Christian books that look patronizing on the outside almost always are even worse inside.  So I loved that this one just looks bright and fun.

From the publisher:
The New York Times bestseller shows students that discovering who Jesus is will change who they are!

In Jesus Is _______. Student Edition, popular speaker, author, and former youth pastor Judah Smith reveals the character of Jesus and the importance of Christ's message. Adapted for a student's age and life experience, this compelling book will get younger readers thinking about what Jesus means to them.

Judah Smith, pastor of the City Church in Seattle, Washington, is a former youth minister. He understands kids and writes as if to a friend. With enthusiasm and humor, Smith shows that Jesus is life, Jesus is grace, and Jesus is your friend. The student edition includes new content for younger readers ages 10-14-humorous lists, callouts of key text, sidebars with additional information, and discussion questions. This is a book for kids who have grown up in the church, are new to faith in Jesus, or are seeking to know more. This book will allow students to grow with Jesus from a young age and to know that the point of life is having a real, honest relationship with Jesus.

In the introduction, Judah Smith tells us who he is.  A 33-year-old pastor, who isn't perfect and isn't going around judging everyone else.  He also talks about the "Jesus Is" campaign that they started at their church, with the idea of getting people thinking about Jesus, and how that is the mission of their church.  Nothing in the introduction is remotely patronizing or condescending, and THAT gets my kids' attention.

The book is split up into 15 chapters in six sections.  None of the chapters is particularly long, which is wonderful for tweens.  Most are in the roughly 10 pages range, with some being a bit longer, and some being a little shorter.  That is something that we can read and discuss without losing them.

The language is fairly casual and friendly, without being a lecture or without a whole lot of over-the-top "when you get to be my age" stuff (which my kids also hate, especially coming from anyone under about age 35).

When approaching an idea like how Jesus hung out with sinners, and not just sinners, but those with a reputation for being the bad crowd, Smith is careful to distinguish a why there.  He outright states that your parents might forbid you from hanging out with a certain crowd and that you have to respect that.  Let me quote that paragraph:
Don't misunderstand me here.  I'm not talking about hanging out with bad people because you want to do bad things, or because they are cool, or because it's exciting.  I'm talking about spending time with people others usually reject because you love them and want to help them.  Remember, there might be times when your parents will ask you not to hang out with certain people because they are a bad influence or they are making dangerous decisions.  It that is the case, you need to trust they they know what they are doing.
Each chapter ends with some discussion questions, and these are questions that don't prompt a lecture.  They actually promote discussion. 

I am very impressed with this resource.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers 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.”

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