Growing up has never been easy but living in a digitally saturated age has taken teenage troubles to a new level of struggle. Add to that a global pandemic, racial conflict, political unrest, and polarizing cultural issues. These complicated cultural dynamics make it harder than ever to be a teenager, much less to raise a young man or woman or to mentor one.
Youth ministers and parents are always on the lookout for new resources from trusted teachers, pastors, scholars, and experts. By God’s grace, this year saw a bumper crop of excellent new books that will help us navigate our culture’s choppy waters with the gospel as our north star. Some of these would be excellent to read with the teenagers in your care. Below are some of our favorites; read all the way through to discover our winner!
by Natasha Crain
Natasha Crain offers a reliable guide for sorting through some of the most pressing issues of our culture’s militant secularism, including , critical theory, and virtue signaling. She provides a clarion call for Christians to stand firm in the truths of God’s Word against the pressures that come with being a minority. Parents and youth ministers alike will appreciate her thoughtful distillation of secular arguments, along with biblically informed counterpoints. Parents will find the chapters on critical theory and deconversion especially insightful for anticipating what teenagers are likely hearing in their classrooms and on social media.
This book is an excellent primer for any youth minister undertaking or apologetics. While it may be too much of a deep dive to read chapter by chapter with teenagers, parents would benefit from reading it with their spouses or a group of friends, then brainstorming ways to talk about the content around the dinner table.
by Chris Martin
Over the past two decades, what Chris Martin calls “” has blossomed into a nearly inescapable aspect of life—and many of us haven’t ever paused to count the cost. A digital native himself, Martin traces the phenomenon back to the early days of AOL’s Instant Messenger and MySpace, going on to demonstrate what the creators of Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are really after: our data and our dollars. Far from demonizing these platforms, however, Martin shines a light on we use every day, then offers ways to scale back our dependence on them.
This would be an excellent book to read with an older teenager as a way of offering Christian discipleship in the area of social media use. Although Martin writes to a broad audience, he takes a moment to speak directly to Christians at the end of each chapter. The questions he poses offer good fodder for mutual discipleship and accountability.
by Jen Oshman
Starting with the context of the sexual revolution and its more modern dispensations, Jen Oshman highlights are tempted to adopt in effort to create lives of meaning and beauty. This book is a thoughtful read for youth ministers and parents as we think particularly of the young women we serve and the alluring messages our culture proffers them.
Oshman dissects the narratives of and the abortion movement, the quests for physical beauty and for no-strings-attached sex, illustrating how these often conflicting messages leave generations of women disempowered and unfulfilled. By contrast, she demonstrates how the narrative of Scripture points us to the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings made in God’s image. Oshman’s penultimate chapter It’s Good to Be a Girl offers young women a hopeful, gospel-centered rally cry: Rather than trying to be just like the boys and men around them, God has imbued woman with his image, . That’s a message worth sharing with the teenagers we love.
With skillful biblical exegesis and an eye to the cultural concerns of our day, Rebecca McLaughlin illuminates the care and friendship Jesus expressed for women, several of whom he counted among his closest disciples. Drawing on scholarly research from Richard Bauckham and others, McLaughlin tackles tough textual issues such as the validity of the women’s resurrection testimonies, the differences in material , and the reasons the Gnostic Gospels are not part of .
McLaughlin follows the biblical text in tackling topics like periods and puberty, showing the deep compassion of Jesus for women experiencing these feminine realities. Her candor and tenderness make me wish that I had read something like this as a young girl. Our teenagers often experience angst or questions about , and this book would make a wonderful small group resource for teenagers (both boys and girls!). McLaughlin’s compelling storytelling and the discussion questions included with each chapter provide excellent fodder for meaningful conversation.
I absolutely loved this book and hope you will read it and share it with the teenagers in your life.
The 2022 Rooted Book Awards Team included Chelsea Kingston Erickson, Tucker Fleming, Davis Lacey, Tracy Yi, and Anna Meade Harris.
To enter to win our best new youth ministry book and best book for teenagers, subscribe to our YouTube channel and send a screenshot of your subscription to firstname.lastname@example.org!
⁃ Best New Book for Youth Workers: Authentic Ministry: Serving from the Heart by Michael Reeves
⁃ Best New Book for Teenagers: Read This First: A Simple Guide to Getting the Most from the Bible by Gary Millar