Vote on the cover design for my new book

Book cover[Watch the vlog of this post on YouTube]

I’m really excited to be coming down the home-stretch of my new book! It will release in February 2011 from Youth Specialties/Zondervan and is titled after this blog, Life In Student Ministry.

The book basically covers everything about life in student ministry, starting with, “How do I know if I’m called to youth ministry?” and, “What should my first night at youth group look like?” to working with budgets, volunteer youth leaders, conflict and all those kinds of things. It ends with, “How can I achieve longevity in youth ministry and be in this for the long-haul?” and other issues that look forward to the future of serving in youth ministry.

What I love most about this book is that it’s not just my ideas and thoughts. It’s a collective work of over 100 other youth workers who have given a voice to much of my content, asking different questions, giving other perspectives, and adding better ideas. I wanted this book to have a conversational tone and, thanks to the hard work of my editor, Heather Campbell, I think we achieved that.

Now we’re up to the part where the book’s cover design is finalized and, since this book has been a communal project since the very beginning, I want to continue with that value and give you guys some voice into what it looks like.

Above is the first draft of the book’s cover and, to be honest with you, I’m not sure what I think. Zondervan wants my face on the cover, which doesn’t really bother me, but I would love for the cover to reflect more of the online youth ministry community that contributed so heavily to this book and the conversational tone it carries.

Zondervan has graciously allowed me to seek your thoughts and input.

  • What do you like about the book cover above?
  • What do you not like about it?
  • What do you think it portrays about the book at first glance?
  • What would you change and why?
  • What examples do you have of a book design that could work better?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Zondervan is also open to using a different picture of me, and that’s where your votes come in. Check out some of the other picture options of me and vote for which one you think would work best for the book cover.

Vote 1Vote 2

Vote 3Vote 4


Posted on September 23, 2010

  • Hey, I voted none of the above not cos I hate your face but because of what you've aid about the book being a conversation. Perhaps you and some colleagues sitting round a table with coffee mugs? Obviously you highlighted in the centre with others perhaps being a little out of focus?

    The cover they've sent to you is ok, perhaps a little plain. If you were to go with that maybe make the text a bit bigger to give an idea of what the book is about? The image and "guide to sanity" made me think I think gives the impression that it's a resource book with tools to help planning programme amidst the chaos, even though I know thats not what it is.

    I realise that could be read in a very discouraging way, but I hope what I've said is helpful.

    • Nope, not discouraging at all. Love the feedback. Thanks!

  • I agree with Ruth… I think just about the perfect cover would be the group of youth pastors you meet with on a regular basis sitting around a table talking or studying or eating a meal or something…

    The current cover is pretty cartoonish. I don't know that I would take it seriously if I hadn't been reading your blog for a couple of years now.

    • Donna

      I'm afraid If I saw this on the shelf at Barnes and Nobel I would not take it seriously. Whats up with the glasses? However I truly appreciate what you are trying to accomplish.

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  • Duane

    The current cover is a fail…it looks more like a cover for a book about youth ministry games. I think it would be better not to have a picture, but to have art work, if you must have a picture it would be cool to have a picture with doing something with youth, maybe messing around, devotions, I would make sure it's not a real picture though, make it stylized picture, (less real looking, more cartoon, but not cartoon.)

  • theendisforever

    I agree with all the above. Tim, you are doing a great job and it's awesome to see your heart for teenagers/youth ministry. I think you have a passion to reach youth/youth workers and it excites me to see someone put so much time into the effort like yourself. Shoot man, Zondervan is even going to publish a book for you!


    I know this might sound harsh but I think "life in student ministry" comes across, for lack of a better word, immature. I can see what you are trying to accomplish but honestly I think it's time to grow up.

    Think about this. Your audience is youth workers/youth pastors, not students. While there may be teenagers that come across your blog/LISM, they are not the target audience. The youth worker are (at least that's what I'm noticing). While I think there is a time for comedy and laughter in ever venture, there is also a way to go about that tactfully. There is also a place to be serious.

    I don't know about the commentors above but so often I get tired of being labeled the the "youth guy" (I know it comes with the title but that doesn't mean it doesn't get old). I get tired of listen to people who think I never grew up so I got "stuck" with the teens. I take youth ministry (and ministry in general for that matter) with an extremely serious approach and place a high value on teaching our students the Bible and it's theology while striving maintain a healthy balance of fun.

    If this book was sitting on my desk I think it's more ammunition for the body to realize how unprofessional youth ministry/youth ministry workers really are and how much the youth pastor doesn't take his work seriously (whether that's a adequate analysis or not).

    I never lost my sanity in youth work and I've been doing it for sometime. That my friend comes from remaining solid in the teachings of Jesus and taking His work and commission to the believers seriously.

    Just a thought.


    • Totally agree with you man. That's why I'm asking for feedback. I'm thinking the same thing you are about this cover. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of time left to do something else, but with all your voices, hopefully when I send it to Zondervan they'll be able to make some quick, solid changes. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • brentlacydotcom

    I voted #2 because that is the face of "oh crud, is there money in the budget to fix what they just broke?…" or " I can't believe they did that, it was sooo cool, and how am I going to reprimand that with a straight face?…"

    Student Ministry, my friend…

    • Thanks, Brent! Personally, I'm voting for #4 if they must use my face. :)

      • I voted for #4 earlier! Very handsome picture of you! :)

  • Dr. Headly

    i agree with the majority that the cover should feature more of a conversational piece. perhaps even a coffee mug or up with the logo of the book on it. or even your phone on the table, indicating on its screen that you are receiving a call from… you?

    the current mock-up just looks cartoony to be taken seriously

  • Katie W

    First of all, congrats on the book!
    I have a few comments about the pics… the first one is not a favorite. It doesn't look like you or anything I would take seriously. Also, as a female youth pastor, to put a young man on the cover (even if he wrote the awesome book) perpetuates some stereotypes about youth ministers (must be young, male, and have a certain style). I would go with an image as well.

  • I votes for #4 but #3 has got to go. Its not Tim if there is no adidas hat

  • Tim, I agree with your idea about it being more about reflecting a community of youth workers. I also know that you are somewhat at the mercy of the publisher. I think you're a great guy and appreciate the ministry you've had to youth workers through this blog, but I think the people who follow your blog know what you look like and are probably going to be very likely to buy the book regardless of who is on the cover. Even more well-known writers like Rick Warren and Max Lucado have conceptual covers on their books.

    • Thanks, Jason. I heard back from Zondervan today and we're going to go with a different concept that encompasses the conversational tone of the book. We're also discussing the subtitle and possibly moving away from the insanity direction. Thanks for your input!

  • Somehow part of my comment got cut off. I liked the above concept about the coffee mug with a logo on it. But I also thought about this. What about a grid (think Brady Bunch) with small snapshots of youth workers making various youth-ministry related gestures/expressions or in YM situations. Have a guy pulling his hair out, have a girl with a guitar, have a YM at a table with a bunch of teenagers, have another YM praying with a student, another one with a Red Bull (generic energy drink) at 4AM of the lock-in. I think it would be cool to capture a lot of the different images of "Life in Student Ministry" Looking forward to the book.

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  • GG'ma B

    Do coffee mugs really make you think of TEENS??? Not me..
    I like mug shot # 4.. just your real ole sweet self.

  • David J.W.Kimani

    Tim-you've my vote. It's great work you're doing among the youth and you have my prayers and support. May you get all the financial support you need for the ministry.

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