Rooted’s Top Ten of August 2023

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 

A Theologian’s Advice to Youth Workers: Be Brave by Walt Mueller with Dr. David Wells (CPYU)

It is time to get brave. Let’s stop the pandering. Kids see right through it. Let’s give them the real thing. They are looking for it. No one has demanded anything of them; let us tell them that if they come to Christ, he bids them die.

Teaching Students About the Holy Spirit by Joseph Bradley (Youth Pastor Theologian)

Why should we focus on the Holy Spirit specifically when we are teaching our students? Because if we don’t then we will miss the beauty of the gospel itself. If the Spirit is not involved, we could never be saved. He gives us knowledge of our need for God by pointing us to Christ, but He also unites us with Christ.

Partnering with Parents 

Keep Your Cool While Cheering For Your Kid by Darin White (TGC)

Parents must constantly check their hearts and motives to guard against idolizing their children or their athletic achievements. Instead, it’s important to recognize and appreciate our children’s successes as a reflection of both God’s generosity (in giving them the talent) and their own hard work and dedication.

Why Middle-Aged Americans Aren’t Going Back to Church by Daisy Korpics (The Wall Street Journal)

Church attendance for Gen Xers has dropped off more dramatically than other age groups. Americans in their 40s and 50s often identify with a religion, but they’re also in the thick of raising kids, caring for aging parents and juggling demanding jobs that spill into the weekend.

Bonus: Check out this quick video from family and tech columnist Julie Jargon for tips families can use to reduce screen time. 

Youth Culture

Barbie and Taylor Swift Are Bringing Us Together by Beth Felker Jones (Christianity Today)

The pandemic interrupted my kids’ lives at a crucial developmental point. For them, there’s almost no “before” the pandemic in their teen years—there’s only the newly opening of the after. And in that wake, what if what my kids want is communal meaning—the kind that is supposed to mark our local churches?

This Was Supposed to be the Antidote for TikTok Brain. It’s Just as Bad. by Julie Jargon (Wall Street Journal)

YouTube used to be the place where teens and preteens watched lengthy toy unboxings and videogame tutorials…But since the debut of YouTube Shorts two years ago in the U.S., YouTube looks more like TikTok—something new research suggests is a problem. Viewing endless 15-second TikToks hurts kids’ attention spans and makes it harder for them to participate in activities that don’t offer instant gratification, an effect I dubbed “TikTok brain.”

Bible Teaching

Old Testament Reflections on Grasping the Old Testament’s Message by Jason DeRouchie (For the Church)

The seers, sages, and songwriters who gave us the Old Testament testify that they were speaking and writing not merely for old-covenant saints but also for new-covenant believers—those who would enjoy a relationship with God in the days of the Messiah and the new creation after Israel’s exile.

So, What Did Jesus Think about the Old Testament? By Michael J. Kruger (Canon Fodder)

Even believers, if we’re honest, sometimes have those squirm-in-your-seat reservations about what we are reading in the Old Testament. And that sentiment isn’t helped when popular evangelical leaders suggest the OT doesn’t matter much anyway.

To Share With Students

Your Rights as a Christian in a Public School in 2023 by Joe Carter

As the school year begins, many parents, students, teachers, and coaches have questions about what they’re legally allowed to do in relation to their Christian faith. Below is information related to grades K–12, taken from various resources that provide a broad overview of what is and isn’t allowed in public schools.

Stay the Course: How to Keep Your Faith in College by Brad East (Christianity Today)

Arguably now more than ever, college is a coming-of-age time when many young adults figure out who they are and what they believe. For Christian students, going to college means figuring out how to “keep faith” and deepen it.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of August

What To Do When You Feel Degraded as a Youth Pastor by Cameron Cole 

If I am faithfully following God’s call on my life, and if that call means that I minister to teenagers rather than adults, then the way that some people regard me is irrelevant. 

Teaching Biblical Sexuality Points Teenagers to the Gospel by Syler Thomas

Our teenagers need the good news that just as the body of Christ needs both hands and feet, it needs men and women cooperating in a shared life together.

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

Seeking Wisdom in the Wilderness of College (Student Series 2023) by Mary Allison Anderson

As students prepare to enter a new stage— and sometimes a difficult one for their faith, encourage them with this: What makes us followers of Jesus is not whether or not we make every right decision. Making every right choice is impossible. In fact, the pursuit of making the “perfect” decision actually drives us further away from Jesus’ grace. It pushes us into our own prideful efforts not to need him.