Each month we compile a Top Ten list for youth workers. This list represents ten articles from various sources that we believe will encourage you in your ministry to students 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.) If you find an article that could speak to the Rooted community, please share it in the comment section below.
Student Pastors Form Ecclesiology by Andrew Harper (For the Church)
If students do not leave your ministry understanding that the church is a place to be equipped for every good work, then they will only go to church until they aren’t entertained anymore. They will constantly seek churches with bigger and better services and events to be consumed.
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.
The Jesus I Wish I Knew In High School by Charlotte Getz (New Growth Press)
We want students to know that while they may be lonely, they are not alone; while they may feel guilty and ashamed, they have already been forgiven; while they may feel useless and inept, the Creator God of the universe has a good plan for their lives; and while they may feel an inordinate pressure to perform, they are right now perfectly loved and called worthy by Jesus.
Editors’ Note: In the name of disclosing our biases, this article promotes Rooted’s new book, The Jesus I Wish I Knew in High School. We are so excited to get this resource into the hands of teenagers and the adults who love them! And we think this article is immensely helpful in its own right as you share the gospel with students. New Growth Press is offering a special bulk rate for those who want to buy ten or more copies to give as graduation presents for high school seniors! The Coupon code is ROOTED, and you will save 35% off retail price on 10 or more copies. Coupon expires May 31, 2022.
Partnering with Parents
I Am Proud Of You by Craig Thompson (CraigThompson.com)
Why are these words so powerful? Unfortunately I believe it is because too few kids hear those words from important people in their lives. Too few dads are affirming their kids. Too few moms are announcing their pride. Too many coaches are looking at scoreboards. Too many teachers are staring at computer screens. Grandparents are on their phones. Pastors are not paying attention.
Parents, Take 5 Minutes to Learn About Your Kids and Pornography by Walt Mueller (CPYU)
In an effort to equip parent and youth workers to help guide children and teens into celebrating God-honoring healthy sexuality, we’ve put together a Free download, A Parent’s Primer On Internet Pornography, which will help you understand and address this growing influence that undermines and shipwrecks human flourishing in so many ways.
‘It’s Life or Death’: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens by Matt Richtel (New York Times)
American adolescence is undergoing a drastic change. Three decades ago, the gravest public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from binge drinking, drunken driving, teenage pregnancy and smoking. These have since fallen sharply, replaced by a new public health concern: soaring rates of mental health disorders.
Sexual Behavior Isn’t the Most Important Issue by Alan Shlemon (Stand to Reason)
It’s going to be difficult to help the non-believer see the value of following biblical sexual ethics when they don’t consider the Bible an authority. That’s why I encourage people to make Jesus and the gospel their priority in their relationships. It’s certainly good news to me that they feel compelled to share their convictions with their friends. So, share the good news—the gospel. After all, that’s what ultimately matters. Here’s why.
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.
Biblical Exile Is Not About Losing Cultural Influence by Russell Moore (Christianity Today)
I believe the real danger for us today is not that Christians see themselves as exiled in a far country but that they might see their own country—the United States, Canada, or wherever they are—as the Promised Land. This means they will seek to either embrace everything around them as milk and honey from God or attempt to uproot whichever “Amalekites” or “Philistines” are taking “our country” away from us.
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!
Rooted’s Two Most-Read of April
Good News for Teens: Will Smith, The Oscars, and ‘The Slap Heard ‘Round the World’ by Rebecca Lankford
The good news of the gospel reminds us that though we have been as unkind as Rock and as intensely angry as Smith, Jesus took the deserved blow for us.
We can discuss topics like loving our neighbor, giving our anxiety to Jesus, and serving one another week after week; but if our message doesn’t leave our students with the gospel, we are only adding to the list of things they should do but never fully can. I’m not only talking about making sure we mention that Jesus died for their sins. I mean that we must make sure the gospel itself always has the final word in our teaching.
In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s April Honorable Mention)
The Importance of Ministry Friends by Connor Coskery
I think ministry friends deserve their own category in God’s gracious provision, primarily because these friends are equipped to preach the gospel to me in unique ways. These friends remind me that my hard heart needs the same saving grace as my wayward students’ hearts need. These friends remind me that through Jesus’ finished and victorious work on the cross I am washed and made clean, righteous and forgiven, an adopted child of God. These friends remind me that my student ministry is in fact God’s ministry and that his word will accomplish its purpose, despite my bumbling over my words (Isaiah 55:11).