Welcome to the 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.) For more articles to share with the parents in your ministry, make sure to check out our Parent Top Ten, which runs every-other month.
We Need More Than Theology by Christian Vargus (Youth Pastor Theologian)
There is more to youth ministry than teaching kids to articulate the good news, but there can be nothing less. Gospel doctrine and gospel culture work in tandem, to bring students to life, churches together, and glory to God. I know firsthand what it feels like to try to do one but not the other. It won’t work. We need both.
10 Important Personal Lessons I Learned From Adopting a Child with Special Needs by Vera Christian (SOLA Network)
I learned not to pretend I had it together when I didn’t. Seeing my limits forced me to ask for help. That is also humbling but letting others in to my areas of weakness and need and letting them serve me helped bring healing to a misshapen part of my heart.
Study: Gen Z Wants to Know More About Jesus by Adam Macinnis (Christianity Today)
“The rumors of Christianity’s demise among younger people are greatly exaggerated,” said David Kinnaman, CEO of Barna Group. “That’s, I think, a really important story.”
Partnering with Parents
Dear Parents…Are You Putting Faith First? By Walt Mueller (CPYU)
Research points to the many ways in which over-scheduling and the pressures of life are leading kids into a constant state of anxiety and stress. Perhaps a long-overdue counter-cultural approach that’s obedient to the Lord’s commands is what’s needed. God made us for a rhythm of work and rest.
How to Respond If Your Child Comes Out Today by Melissa Keffler (TGC)
Society has been programmed to believe that parents only love their children if they capitulate to everything those children want, feel, and believe. Address the dearth of common sense in that mindset later; right now, you want to short-circuit such a destructive lie. Say, “No matter what, we will always love you. We will always be your mom and dad.”
Expose Your Kids to Hard Truths by Leslie Schmucker (TGC)
Shying away from hard subjects does little to prepare children to defend a faith that’s increasingly under attack. Rather, by discussing hard topics with our children in age-appropriate ways, we can show them how to wisely apply Scripture to the difficult questions of our day.
The Latecomer’s Guide to TikTok by J.D. Biersdorfer (New York Times)
But at least for now, TikTok is only growing in influence. If you’ve constantly heard it mentioned by your friends (and children) but have been unsure how it works, this guide is for you. No need to be embarrassed.
Could Thin Be in Again? by Michelle Santiago Cortés (The Cut)
“When I say thin is in,” says disability advocate Imani Barbarin, a.k.a. @crutches_and_spice on TikTok, “what I’m talking about is that the inclusion we’ve achieved over the last ten years with the body-positivity and the body-neutrality movements, it’s going to feel like whiplash in terms of going back. It’s going to feel like a resentment of fat bodies.”
5 ways you can nurture faith that goes beyond youth group by Jen Bradbury (Fuller Youth Institute)
As our relationship grew, we learned from one another. In some areas, I modeled growth to Emily. In others, she modeled it to me. Together, we explored her questions of faith. While she knew I didn’t have all the answers, she trusted me enough to share her doubts, knowing that I’d sit with her in the messiness of it all and together we’d find answers.
The Christian church has long understood and upheld the worth of the body, looking at both the creation account of Genesis where God declares the world good and the Incarnation of Christ where a perfect and holy God took on flesh and blood (John 1). As Christians, we must not fall for the lie of culture that our bodies are to be changed to meet our self-perception (2 Cor. 10:5).
Rooted’s Two Most-Read of October
By Dustin Messer
I had a high school friend ask me the : “Do you honestly think can keep me out of heaven?” I understood the spirit behind his question. How could a loving God condemn someone to eternal torment for what seems like such a mild infraction? It’s a fair question that deserves an honest answer.
by Chelsea Kingston Erickson
While youth ministers might imagine that today’s teenagers have a largely negative view of the Bible, these statistics demonstrate they may be far more open than we think. This should embolden us to take the Bible seriously in our youth ministries. Most of the teenagers participating in our youth ministries, and maybe even some of their friends from school, actually want to know what we believe. For many of these students, with consistent gospel application will change their lives.
In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s October Honorable Mention)
by Michelle Ami Reyes
One of my core Bible verses is Psalm 119:50, which states, “My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.” Clinging to Jesus and clinging to God’s word has literally preserved my life throughout the experiences of racism. In the midst of bearing the weight of so much pain, I’ve found that the greatest point of relief and healing has come from laying my pain at Jesus’ feet.