Welcome to Rooted’s Top Ten, a curated reading list for youth ministers. Each month we find ten articles, and sometimes videos or podcasts, from various sources that we believe will encourage you in your ministry to teenagers and their families. Some give explicit instruction on gospel-centered ministry, while others are included because there is a message of common grace that is helpful to youth workers. (The opinions presented in these articles do not necessarily reflect the position of Rooted.)
Our editors present our Top Ten of 2022, representing some of the best resources we curated on the Top Ten list throughout the past year which are still relevant for 2023 and beyond. Read to the bottom for some of our recommended resources from the Rooted blog!
To Consider for Youth Ministry in 2023
Essentials of a Biblical Youth Ministry by Mike McGarry (Youth Pastor Theologian)
The biblical drive of youth ministry is not to make teenagers Christians. Instead, the goal of youth ministry is to make adult disciples whose faith took root in their teen years. This happens through proclaiming and applying the gospel in everything we do.
Where Did Youth Ministry Go Wrong? Identifying a Way Forward by Jared Kennedy (Crossway)
The church’s goal in discipling the next generation is not to train kids so they can sit quietly through church services. Our goal is for them to hear about the Savior and, by God’s grace, be changed by him.
Cultural Intelligence and Youth Ministry: Creating Safe Spaces for Questions and Community by Katie Nguyen (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship)
Cultural intelligence in youth ministry looks like bringing the understanding that the body of Christ is made up of many different parts, but are still all part of one body (1 Cor. 12:12). That means recognizing that though we are all one in Christ, image bearers of the same Lord, we also all bear uniquely different images. Ultimately, a question we should be asking across the breadth of youth ministries across the body of Christ is, “Are we valuing unity over uniformity, or are we expecting everyone to look and act the same way once they enter our doors?”
5 Tips to Rethink the Strengths and Gifts of Youth With Disabilities in Your Ministry by Deborah Huggins (Fuller Youth Institute)
We all have teenagers in our youth programs who receive supports and services for disabilities. Figuring out the best ways to include these amazing young people in our programs, to help them connect with peers and friends, and to share their gifts and strengths with the church is part of the joy and challenge of youth ministry. When we work with a team, communicate with people with disabilities and their support network, and take a strengths-based approach, we find that God has even more amazing plans for our ministry with youth with disabilities than we could have imagined!
To Share with Parents in Your Church
How Parents Can Raise Their Kids to Live by Faith by Jack Klumpenhower (ERLC)
If morality or ideology or healthy habits made life Christian, our approach would be simple: Try hard. Think straight. Do right. But faith is an offbeat path with practices that feel unnatural: Receive from God. Trust his Word. Follow him. Rest in Jesus. Most Christian parents find it harder to lead their families in that—in faith.
Parents, Just Go to Church by Cameron Cole (TGC)
Nothing can prepare you for the labor that is getting small children out the door to church on a Sunday morning. I don’t know if it’s spiritual warfare or whiplash from the weekend, but dressing small kids and loading them into the car is a grind. Even when your kids are teenagers, there are days they seem to resist just about anything you suggest. Getting to church is hard. But that’s part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christian’s daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ.
To Share with Church Leaders
Healthy Churches Embrace Evangelism, Kids, and Chaos by Sam Rainer (TGC)
Your church will not grow larger with the oldest generation. Older members provide stability, wisdom, and important resources, but for churches to grow and remain healthy, they must also reach, enfold, and retain younger generations…Embracing children means at least six things.
High Schoolers Can Be Church Members, Too by Taylor Cain (For the Church)
According to a 2017 Lifeway Research poll, students between the ages of 18-22 stop attending church regularly. What is the local church calling these students to commit to when they gather during their high school years? Church membership, or nothing? Here are three reasons I believe we should not shy away from inviting born-again high school students to covenant with their local church.
To Encourage Your Soul
The Blessing of Low Attendance Nights by Will Standridge (Youth Pastor Theologian)
It’s easy to feel like our “preparation was wasted” when only a couple of students show up. But the heart of our ministry is actually shown more clearly on these nights. Is my prep wasted when there are only five instead of ten, or when there are only forty-five instead of eighty? Of course not—because you’ve prepped to see students equipped with the Word, not to fill seats.
Dear Burned-Out Pastor: Seven Steps Toward Long-Term Health by Scotty Smith (Desiring God)
In 45 years of ordained ministry, I’ve never walked with as many weary leaders. So, what do you do when darkness begins to hide the lovely face, voice, and hand of Jesus? Here’s a bit of my story, and what I learned from Paul.
From the Rooted Blog
Our Favorite 2022 Blog Series to Read and to Share:
Preaching the Gospel from All of Scripture with Seth Stewart
Our friend Seth Stewart, editor-in-chief at Spoken Gospel has written nine articles in the past year about how we can present the gospel to teenagers as we teach from various books of the Bible. So far he’s covered the royal and wisdom psalms, Daniel (Part I and Part II), Jonah, John’s Gospel, Ephesians, 1 Peter, the letters of John, and Jude. Watch for more book-by-book teaching articles from Seth in 2023!
Creating a Culture of Belonging
We created this series after reading a recent LifeWay Research article about the importance of belonging for the mental and spiritual health of teenagers. We encourage you to “binge” these articles as a collective resource for fostering the welcome of Jesus in your ministry. Watch for more articles on this topic in 2023, and please reach out if you’d like to contribute to the series!
Three Tips for Welcoming New Students to Youth Group￼ by Steve Eatmon
Leveraging Transitions to Remind Teenagers They Belong by Chelsea Kingston Erickson
Discipling Student Leaders to Welcome Fellow Students by Meredith Dixon
A Conversation About Curbing Cliques at Youth Group by Anna Meade Harris and Chelsea Kingston Erickson
Welcoming the Anxious Student to Youth Group by Liz Edrington