How “Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide” Came to Be

Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide(a book authored and inspired predominantly by Rooted writers) was actually born in Café Osceola at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel in Orlando, Florida. Oh yes, any attendee of TGC2014 and TGC2012 knows the over-priced “everything” buffet at Café Osceola all too well. At the time, Rooted’s Steering Committee consisted of Mark Howard, Dave Wright, David Plant, and Liz Edrington. There at Café Osceola, we talked about our goals for Rooted in the next two years.

I commented that two recently published books had been a significant blessing to the promotion of Gospel centrality in youth ministry. Brian Cosby’s book, Giving Up Gimmicks, and Alvin Reid’s book, As You Go, both advocated for a Gospel-centered theological approach to youth ministry. We also discussed how the youth ministry world had published several really good books on the methodology of youth ministry (Mark DeVries’ book Sustainable Youth Ministry in particular).

However, nobody seemed to have bridged that gap by creating a book which both casts a vision for a Gospel-centered approach to youth ministry, while also providing a practical guide on how to actually execute that ministry. We believed that a new youth minister on his or her first day of work should have a book that provided a theological foundation for what Gospel centrality looks like in the youth ministry space, while also equipping them to implement the basics of everyday ministry.

With a pencil on a legal pad (marked by some ketchup stains), an outline was formed. The book would be broken into three parts: the foundations for a Gospel-centered youth ministry, the practical applications of a Gospel-centered youth ministry, and the fruit of a Gospel-centered youth ministry.

Still, no concrete intention of actually contacting a publisher was on our mind, at least in the near future. Four months later though, Collin Hansen of The Gospel Coalition called and asked me if Rooted had ever thought about publishing a book on Gospel-centered youth ministry. “As a matter of fact…” The next day the tattered legal pad notes became a Word document, and the process sprang forward from there.

The leadership of Rooted, and the contributors to Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide are all extremely grateful for the initial success of the book. We think it’s a book that any youth pastor or volunteer will find helpful. We also think senior and associate pastors need a copy on their shelf (largely because while usually well-intentioned, but are unfortunately frequent proliferators of bad youth ministry models).

TGC and Crossway both have been great partners and champions of this cause.

Soli deo gloria, 

Cameron Cole

Join us for Rooted 2016, an intimate youth ministry conference, where we will explore the good news that God’s grace is sufficient for our relationships: with ourselves, with others, with the world, and with God. Jesus is our reconciliation yesterday, today, and forever. 

To learn more about gospel centered youth ministry, check out more articles and podcasts from Rooted’s youth ministry blog.

Cameron Cole has been the Director of Youth Ministries for eighteen years at the Church of the Advent, and in January of 2016 his duties expanded to include Children, Youth, and Families. He is the founding chairman of Rooted Ministry, an organization that promotes gospel-centered youth ministry. He is the co-editor of “Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practice Guide” (Crossway, 2016). Cameron is the author of Therefore, I Have Hope: 12 Truths that Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy (Crossway, 2018), which won World Magazine’s 2018 Book of the Year (Accessible Theology) and was runner up for The Gospel Coalition’s Book of the Year (First-Time Author). He is also the co-editor of The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School (New Growth Press) and the author of Heavenward: How Eternity Can Change Your Life on Earth (Crossway, 2024). Cameron is a cum laude graduate of Wake Forest University undergrad, and summa cum laude graduate from Wake Forest with an M.A. in Education. He holds a Masters in Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary.

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