Friday, May 03, 2024

“More to the Story” by Jennifer Kvamme

I have been searching for a book like this for a very long time.

As a Christian pastor, I want the young people I care for to have really good answers to the difficult questions they are all asking about sexuality these days. And to be really good answers for today’s teens, they have to be realistic, biblical, confident, joyful, hopeful, comprehensive, concise, and readable. That’s a tall order!

How pleasant it was for me to discover that one of my EFCA friends had written such a book.

Jennifer Kvamme is Student Ministries Catalyst at Centennial Church in Forest Lake, Minnesota. She and I have collaborated on EFCA publications in the past, and when I heard about More to the Story: Deep Answers to Real Questions on Attraction, Identity, and Relationships, I was eager to hear what she had to say.

Jennifer writes as a true friend and wise mentor. She is sensitive to her young readers’ feelings and gentle with past hurts and poor decisions. Life is gritty, confusing, and painful. At the same time, Jennifer is joyful, confident, and unwavering in holding out God’s good design for sexuality. In three opening chapters and then at every turning point across the rest of the book, Jennifer embeds all the biblical teaching on sexuality in the grand storyline of the Scriptures. Sexuality is a grand glimpse of something deeper. There is more to the story. And the ultimate hero of the story gets the credit He deserves for His compassion and redemption. Jesus is fixing what has been broken so that following Him will be worth it all.

More to the Story does it all. I no longer have to point teens to a little library of resources I have assembled to address the long list of questions they have. Jennifer covers the waterfront in concise chapters that each end with meaningful questions for personal reflection. Students that need or want to go deeper can follow the endnotes or read her annotated recommendations for further reading. Youth groups can utilize the well-written discussion guide to jumpstart great conversations. The folks at The Good Book Company have done a beautiful job of laying out the book’s design to undergird its message.

While I’m sure it’s not perfect, I don’t have any real critique to offer. Unlike most books on this topic, I never had to wince as I read it. I never wished that Jennifer had said something differently or “not gone there.” Her counsel is sound, balanced, robust, and hope-giving. It’s even humorous at appropriate times! As all other books on this topic, More to the Story will feel dated at some point, probably frustratingly soon. Life is just getting more complicated. But this book is simply excellent and just what the church needs in our day.

I wish we had this book when our own kids were teens, but I’m glad we have it now. Highly recommended.

Give a copy of More to the Story to every sixteen-year-old you know.