Book Review: ‘Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith’ by Mike McGarry

As a parent and longtime youth pastor, I am always looking for good books, devotionals, or bible study material to use with my youth group students and my own teenage children to help them grow in their faith. Most of the time, I might find something that is adequate, but I must work to edit or contextualize it quite a bit. But with Mike McGarry’s new book, Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith, I didn’t need to do much of thatDiscover is a great resource for any student: be they a student who wrestles with doubt, a student who simply wants to strengthen their faith, or anywhere in-between. 

Discover is written to help teenagers answer questions about their faith. Each chapter is  based on questions Mike has encountered from students during his long tenure as a youth pastor.  The chapters range from more theologically-geared questions like, “What is the Trinity” and “Who is the Holy Spirit”  to pragmatic questions like, “Should Christians be Tolerant?” and “How Should Christians Think About Mental Health Struggles?” Mike’s goal for the book is to offer teenagers the opportunity to wrestle with their faith by sincerely leaning into their questions of faith, not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for discovery and growth.

Mike suggests that students can read this book on their own, with a parent or mentor, or with a small group. The content of the 20 chapters have arisen not only from Mike’s work as a scholar of youth ministry, but from his long experience as a youth pastor. The chapters are a perfect length for a teenager: not too long, not too short. They are written with clarity and crispness, without being weighed down with clunky theological verbiage. The chapters provoke thought and reflection, and each chapter concludes with a solid list of discussion questions. As a parent, these questions can be used to promote discussion and reflection, or for a youth pastor, can be an impetus for small groups and deeper discussion.

 I could see myself buying multiple copies of this book and gifting it to students. In many ways, Discover can be read “apologetically” by students to help them answer their questions and doubts about their faith. I could also see it easily being used with the teenagers in my own family. The chapters and discussion questions are short enough to read a chapter with my own children a few nights a week. In addition, Discover would be an excellent resource for for mentoring or discipling a group of students, or in a small group study. Whichever context in which you might choose to use Discover, its strength lies in its inviting nature for students to come to their faith journey with questions; to ponder and wrestle openly with them, and to engage with gospel-centered proposals to those questions. Weather reading this book on their own, with parents, a mentor, or a small group leader, Discover is an invitation for students to come to Jesus and seek the answers they’re looking for in him. 

Ultimately, Discover exudes gospel hope. It invites teenagers to see the gospel of Jesus as an unconditional invitation to his grace. Students can come to a book like Discover knowing Jesus is the Savior with his arms open wide for all believers, wherever they are in their walk with Jesus.  Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me all who labor and are heavy laden.” His gospel invitation is for all, not just those who are strong or full of faith.  Discover is the kind of book that offers that gospel invitation to all students. 

Danny Kwon, Ph.D., serves as the Senior Director of Youth Ministry Content and Cross Cultural Initiatives for Rooted Ministry. Before joining Rooted, Danny Kwon served as Youth and Family Pastor at Yuong Sang Church, a bicultural, bilingual Korean-American congregation outside Philadelphia for 29 years. He is married to Monica, a Christian counselor and psychologist, and they have three children. He has authored three books, including A Youth Worker’s Field Guide to Parents: Understanding Parents of Teenagers, and Mission Tripping: A Comprehensive Guide to Youth Ministry Short Term Missions. He also serves as an adjunct professor of Youth Ministry at Eastern University, is a certified ministry coach, has contributed to various publications, spoken at ministry conferences across the world, and has mentored 28 youth ministry pastoral interns over the years at his church. Danny holds graduate degrees from Westminster Seminary, Covenant Seminary, and Eastern University. His doctoral dissertation focused on innovation theory and intergenerational youth ministry paradigms in the local church.  He enjoys sports, eating, reading, and making people laugh, and now is a youth ministry volunteer in his local church.

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