19 July 2024

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A work that speaks to real teenage questions

Picture:iStock

Amy Brown 

25 May 2024

Mike McGarry. Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith. New Growth Press: 2023. 

Am I a real Christian if I have doubts and questions about my faith? How do I know I’m a Christian? Can I trust the Bible?  And most recently: Why did Jesus have to die like that? It was so brutal!  

These are real questions teenagers today are asking and Mike McGarry’s book Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith helps teenagers approach them in a faith-building way to strengthen their relationship with Jesus.  

McGarry begins with questions about our doctrinal foundations like “What is the Gospel?”, “Can I trust and understand the Bible?” and “What is the Trinity?’” before moving on to topical questions like “Should Christians be tolerant?”, “What does the Bible teach about sex/dating/LGBTQ+?”, and “How should Christians think about mental health struggles?” While you could read different chapters depending on your question, as you get to the later chapters, you can see how much the earlier content builds up a robust answer for these pastorally sensitive questions our young people are exploring today. 

Read more: For thriving churches, we need to ask hard questions and be willing to change

The bite-sized chapters are littered with illustrations, biblical references, and stories about McGarry’s experience working in youth ministry. McGarry offers clear, straight-to-the-point, holds-no-punches explanations for big questions. This means the reader doesn’t feel like he’s wasting their time but that he is taking their question seriously, and valuing their search for answers and clarity.  

Along the way, McGarry highlights alternate point of views and even highlights some “traps” youth leaders or other adults might fall into as they try and offer explanations to these questions. For example, the trap of neglecting the “cost” of following Jesus, throwing out the promises of salvation whilst neglecting the truths of repentance, obedience to God and persecution for faith.  

As he tackles each question, building on the foundations of our faith, McGarry aims to help the reader see why what they believe matters. He aims to explore their questions and give time to do this, resting on the safety net of their trust in Jesus: that faith as small as a mustard seed is enough. At the end of each chapter, he includes “Digging Deeper” questions for further reflection, journalling or discussion, making this book a useful resource not just for the individual, but also for small group discussions.  

Read more: Teenagers grow in faith at joint youth group

I would recommend this book for anyone working with young people, or even if you’re not working with young people – the clarity and brevity is useful for a lot of questions you’d get in your ministry practice! I would gift this to teenagers or young adults from age 15+ for individual use. For younger teens, I would want a safe adult to read this with them and tackle the digging deeper discussion with them. Youth ministers could use this as a guide for a “big questions” term (or two), or it would even be great to use as Bible study material for small groups.  

Overall, this book encourages the reader to keep trusting Jesus while exploring faithfully their big questions, embracing the prayer “I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24).  

The Reverend Amy Brown is associate/generations minister at Mount Eliza Anglican Church.  

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