Rooted’s Top Ten of April 2024

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.) 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.

If you find an article that could educate, equip, or encourage the Rooted community, please email the editor at

Gospel-Centered Ministry 

Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This…(build your ministry on Clickbait) by Mike McGarry (Youth Pastor Theologian) 

When we build our youth group teaching series around clickbait titles or when we plan youth events with clickbait names, it does effect the way students engage with those things. Below are some short, bite-sized reflections about what I do and don’t mean.

The Opportunity for Renewal After the Perfect Storm by Bobby Suh (SOLA)

The good news is that the next generation wants much more than shiny, charismatic, celebrity pastors and churches. The next generation longs for a safe environment where they can grow through intentional spiritual formation. They want to be discipled by someone who will long suffer with them through their weaknesses.

The Green Jacket of Righteousness: The Victory that Matters Most to Scottie Scheffler by Sam Bush (Mockingbird)

When asked about the secret to his success, Scheffler often shifts the subject from golf to his faith. After winning his second Masters, he candidly shared how his friends responded to his honest desire to win. “My buddies told me this morning, my victory was secure on the cross,” he said. “And that’s a pretty special feeling; to know that I’m secure forever and it doesn’t matter if I win this tournament or lose this tournament. My identity is secure forever.” In other words, one reason why Scheffler may be winning so much is because he is playing like he has nothing to lose.

Partnering with Parents 

Why Public Health Should Attend to the Spiritual Side of Life by Tyler VanderWeele (Harvard Public Health)

The evidence from meta-analyses, large longitudinal studies (including from Harvard’s own Nurses’ Health Study), and handbooks providing more extensive documentation, suggests that weekly religious service attendance is longitudinally associated with lower mortality risk, lower depression, less suicide, better cardiovascular disease survival, better health behaviors, and greater marital stability, happiness, and purpose in life.

Taylor Swift’s Latest Map and Mirror by Walt Mueller (CPYU)

“Oh, it’s just music!” is a dangerous and might I say foolish posture to hold. No, ideas matter. And, they matter the most when we aren’t thinking that they matter, because that’s when they are most apt to shape or mis-shape our lives as we mindlessly consume them without using any sort of critical thinking, discernment, or wisdom.

Youth Culture

Transgender Meds for Kids? 4 Findings from New Report by Rebecca McLaughlin (TGC—The Keller Center)

This article will not focus on theological or pastoral reflection, important as such reflection undoubtedly is, nor will it mount a case against the foundations of transgender ideology—a case that is increasingly being made even by secular philosophers and public intellectuals. My aim is simply to show that the Cass report discredits four widely believed claims.

An Update to The Anxious Generation with Jonathan Haidt on The Russell Moore Show (Christianity Today)

Haidt describes how religious communities are taking the lead in providing some protection from mental health problems. He and Moore discuss the ways that modern life lends itself to overprotecting our children in the real world and under-protecting them online.

My First Amendment concerns with ‘The Anxious Generation’ by Greg Lukianoff (The Eternally Radical Idea)

Let’s try one proposed solution — like making public K-12 schools phone-free all day — see how things turn out, and proceed from there. This may seem overly cautious, but when you’re dealing with government interventions that implicate the free speech of both young people and adults, it’s a good idea to pace ourselves rather than throwing the kitchen sink at the problem.

Ministry Skills

How to Prepare Seniors For College and the Workforce by Andrew Slay (Youth Pastor Theologian)

…one topic that we must not overlook (but sometimes do) is how we will integrate our students into the church’s life if they continue to live at home once they graduate. Many students leave the church because they don’t know where they fit in after high school. Large churches often have a college ministry, but some, like mine, do not.

Finding the Edge in Preaching by Andrew Wilson (Think Theology)

“Good preachers find the edge,” says Trevin Wax. That’s one of the key differences between a spicy sermon and a bland one. It is all too easy to be worthy but dull, biblical but boring, exegetically faithful but culturally unengaged. If we consider the examples of the latter we have heard, the chances are that they will be sermons that lacked what Trevin calls “the edge.”

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of April

Consider Staying Close to Home for Your Youth Group’s Mission Trip By Isaiah Marshall 

Serving is not about us…but about what God is doing, and how he invites us to join him in what he is doing.

A Vibrant Tapestry: The Importance of Intergenerational Relationships in Youth Ministry by Brian Ryu 

May we welcome the generations to come so that Jesus, the King of all generations, may minister faithfully to our teenagers today.

In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s April Honorable Mention)

A Loose Grip on a Strong Savior: Walking a Teenager Through a Spiritual Desert by Rebecca Lankford 

Remind your student that although his faith may be weak, he belongs to strong Savior. Praise be to God, his salvation rests on Jesus, not the caliber of your student’s faith.