Rooted’s 2022 Book Awards: Best New Books for Youth Workers

books youth workers

In many ways youth ministers occupy a specialized area of church life—but in other ways, we are generalists. We teach, disciple, offer pastoral care, lead services, plan events, administrate, and build bridges between generations, just to name a few of the responsibilities that occupy our days. Because of the diversity of our roles and the ever-changing nature of our culture, youth ministers must always be learning and growing. Each year Rooted curates a list of the best new books for youth ministers to read, and this year we have three to recommend.

Each of these books was published in 2022, and each one is sure to make a valuable contribution to the ministry of youth workers who are seeking to care for teenagers in a grace-filled, gospel-centered, Bible-saturated way. At the same time, no book on this list is youth-ministry specific; the benefits of reading these titles extends far beyond the realm of youth workers. Read all the way through to discover our winner!

Honorable Mentions

Charles Spurgeon, a larger-than-life English pastor who led a church of more than 5,000 people, has all but achieved legend-status in many circles of 21st Century Evangelicalism. The fruitfulness of his ministry is undeniable. Yet, as Spurgeon the Pastor so faithfully records, Spurgeon was not immune to the frustrations and discouragements which other, less notable ministry leaders experience. Nor were the churches Spurgeon led free from complacency, divisive quarreling, and other sad effects of the Fall. I drew great encouragement in considering that, if someone as gifted as Charles Spurgeon experienced these realities, I shouldn’t be surprised that I experience them, too. And beyond simple encouragement, Spurgeon the Pastor offers practical insights on how Spurgeon integrated children and teenagers into the various facets of the churches he led—a topic of direct interest to youth workers.

This book it is written primarily to senior or lead pastors, and is distinctly baptistic in its approach. These aspects of the book’s composition may make it less applicable to some of Rooted’s readership. Still, for those youth workers who read it, Spurgeon the Pastor will serve as a source of both encouragement and instruction.

As the title suggests, Terry L. Johnson’s Understanding Family Worship provides a scriptural case for conducting family worship, historical examples of how families throughout church history have conducted family worship, and practical guidance for how today’s families may pursue worship together. The book is not only rich in content – it is also concise. At approximately 90 pages in length, Understanding Family Worship is accessible to busy parents and over-extended youth workers alike.

Readers should note that whereas Spurgeon the Pastor is a distinctly baptistic title, Understanding Family Worship is uniquely biased towards the Puritanical-Presbyterian viewpoint. Additionally, there are parts of the book that could have been more gracious in tone.

These critiques notwithstanding, Johnson’s third chapter alone, “Elements of Family Worship,” is worth the price of the book—specifically Johnson’s instruction on how parents can grow more confident in leading times of family prayer. The vision of families simply and intentionally approaching the “throne of grace” together would be transformative in its implementation, making Understanding Family Worship a worthy honorable mention in this year’s book awards.


As the President of Union School of Theology, Dr. Michael Reeves’ life work is the training and sending of men and women for Christ-exalting, gospel ministry. Anyone who has read Reeves’ work (including titles such as Delighting in the Trinity, Rejoicing in Christ, etc.) knows that he is brilliant. Authentic Ministry is likewise profound in its theological insights, but as Reeves states in the book’s introduction, this title is far more concerned with the heart than with the head.

Authentic Ministry covers a host of topics that youth ministers will find relevant and timely, including: finding one’s identity in Christ, the importance of prayer, humility, enduring through seasons of suffering and adversity, the value of gospel-friendships, and more. The book’s nine chapters are concise and approachable—the perfect source material for a youth minister’s devotional reading. More importantly, Reeves’ tone oozes with the grace of Jesus.

Through addressing timely topics, rich theological discussion, and applying the gospel to my heart and life, Authentic Ministry filled me with love for Jesus more so than any other title I read in 2022.

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!
    ⁃    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