TULSA, OK (February 18, 2010) – Denise McKinney remembers traveling as a child in the backseat of the car as her family drove through the vast expanses of the West on vacation. She learned that getting a positive answer to her question, “Are we there yet?” could take quite some time. She watched as one mile marker after another appeared and disappeared from view.
McKinney has drawn on those experiences as well as 15 years of leading youth ministry for her new book, Mile Markers: A Path for Nurturing Adolescent Faith, published by Youth Specialties.
Mile markers can come during programs, but they are not the same, says McKinney who has served the last 13 years as director of student ministry at Redeemer Covenant Church in Tulsa. She also serves as a ministry coach, writer and speaker at events. Mile markers are the moments that adolescents can point to as being important parts of their spiritual journey through adolescence.
The adolescent journey is taking longer than ever, according to McKinney. “It used to be a sprint, but now it’s a marathon,” McKinney says. Young people are now faced with more important choices earlier than ever and are facing various economic and social issues that make it harder for them to embark on their own as they get older, she explains.
“If we were to ‘rate the pain’ or struggle that adolescents face today, then we’d learn that the intensity of their trials and the level of their stress is far beyond what we experienced in the last couple of decades,” she writes. “They may have more perks and plusses in their lives – compliments of a society that continues to innovate and discover – but they also have more intersections where painful and difficult circumstances seem to stand in the way of a healthy journey.”
McKinney traces her passion for youth ministry back to her parents, who took in a dozen foster children while she was growing up. That exposure gave her a greater insight into the lives and needs of others, she says.
The author says she hopes the book provides guidance for youth workers and parents about ways to work together as they walk alongside adolescents. She also hopes that it provides them an opportunity to savor the time they have with adolescents.
Many of the questions and activities are geared toward giving adults an opportunity to ask questions of their own journey. Each chapter of the book includes questions for reflection as well as ideas that can be used by parents and churches.
The book comes with a CD that includes additional material that can be used. Many of the exercises and material come from McKinney’s own experience in youth ministry. Click here to order a copy from the online Covenant Bookstore.
Mile Markers already is generating local publicity. She was featured during a recent midday television news program, “Good Day Tulsa.” The interview can be seen on McKinney’s website.