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.
by Russell Moore (Christianity Today)
The gospel answers that slavery to fear not by a display of carnal strength but by the One who was “crowned with glory and honor” through experiencing the very thing we dread most: the suffering of death (Heb. 2:9). The answer to our slavery to fear is what seems to be shameful to a world that loves power: the cry of a desperate infant, “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15).
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.
by Will Ryan (Mockingbird)
Even my initial spidey-like sense that God was calling me into ministry, nor my 4-year sojourn through Seminary, or even the first years of ordained ministry were enough to shake me out of the natural human inclination to justify ourselves by what we do. Sure, I thought I had a handle on it, but my concept of the Gospel was lacking.
Partnering with Parents
By Jen Pollock Michel (Christianity Today)
We’ve tried teaching our children to honor God, to love the church, to obey the Scriptures, to serve the least, to work hard, to stay curious, to be honest. But how much have we taught them—explicitly and systematically—about suffering interruptions, about sacrificing time for others, about staying patient and hopeful in misunderstanding and offense? What curriculum have we engaged for forming relationships across differences?
by Shelley Henning (Faithward)
As disciple-makers and role models, we need to be careful, for the way we handle difficult conversations and church hurt has a significant impact on children. Our actions and words should never cause anyone to think that the church is a battleground or a place to be avoided.
Yet, hurt isn’t going away on this side of heaven, so how can we do better for our children and young people as we continue to experience broken relationships in the church?
by Richard Fisher (BBC Family Tree)
One of the most culturally significant inventions of the past century was the teenager. It’s difficult to imagine that we ever existed without our adolescent years as we experience them now, but if you could time-travel back a few centuries, people would find the modern idea of the teenager to be something of an alien concept.
by Elinor Carucci (The New Yorker)
Elinor Carucci is a photographer and a mother of seventeen-year-old twins named Eden and Emmanuelle. She recently took photos of her kids and other young New Yorkers between the ages of fifteen and eighteen, most of them in the places where they have spent inordinate amounts of time over the past two years: their bedrooms. Many of the rooms are decorated with posters and other personal paraphernalia, and equipped with narrow twin beds and windows that, as is often the case in the smallest rooms of a New York City apartment, look out onto airshafts. These are the reduced worlds of young people whose existences have, in a literal sense, been decimated by the pandemic—at least a tenth of their lives thus far sacrificed to its ravages and restrictions.
by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra (TGC)
“Gen Z is rooted in the rise of technology and the novelty that created,” said Chase Daws, Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) campus minister at University of California, Berkeley. “They experience things at a clip much faster than anyone else. They’re occupying worlds we don’t have access to and can’t keep up with.”
But they aren’t inaccessible. They clearly see the brokenness of the world. They’re not afraid of hard questions about the meaning of life or the pursuit of justice. They’re looking for community. And all of those things are found in the gospel.
Interview with Mike McGarry (New Growth Press)
Many volunteers within the church feel overwhelmed at the thought of serving in the youth ministry. What is expected of a volunteer? What about being able to answer the tricky theological questions teenagers often ask? In Lead Them to Jesus: A Handbook for Youth Workers, veteran youth pastor Mike McGarry offers a comprehensive tool to equip and encourage every member involved with the youth of a congregation to create and maintain a fruitful ministry to students… In this interview, we talk to him more about Lead Them to Jesus.
by Andy Cimbala (TGC)
This truth changes everything. Because we belong to God, Christians are graciously given a new identity in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). God gives us meaning, morality, and belonging. The gospel declares that our justification before God—the ground of our very worth and existence—also comes from God, not from our work (Rom. 4:4–5). God richly provides all we need.
Don’t Miss This
by Mike McGarry, Christianity Today
One of the strengths of the book is the genuine diversity among the authors. Whatever the makeup of your students, they will find themselves represented here. Even more surprising are the ways they will find themselves identifying with stories by those who are different. In this way, the book presents more than tokenism. By keeping the gospel front and center, it highlights what we have in common through Christian unity and fellowship, even while acknowledging the particularities of our different backgrounds and experiences. This book will resonate with Gen Z, a true melting-pot generation.
Editor’s Note: In the name of disclosing our biases, this article reviews Rooted’s new book, . We are so excited to get this resource into the hands of teenagers and the adults who love them!
Rooted’s Two Most-Read of February
Youth Pastor, Your Students Need Apologetics by Bradley Blaylock
Ultimately what Paul wanted his audience to know and believe is that they were created by God and that they could know and be known by God. Paul’s message was that life is found in the Messiah, Jesus, who died and rose again. This is the good news of the gospel! That he who knew no sin became sin on our behalf (1 Cor. 5:21). Paul wasn’t interested in the “comment section” of an apologetic debate. Paul was interested in people seeing Jesus and his Word, clearly. That’s apologetics.
Feed the Sheep- Don’t Lecture Them! by Andy Hood
To minister the gospel to these students, I needed to take hold of that gospel for myself. The good news that I didn’t need to prove myself or make my mark because my value, worth, and significance was secure in Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for me. If I understood this, I could stop making my ministry and my teaching about me and start making it about the students God had given me. Then and only then I could truly hear the call of Jesus: ‘feed my sheep’ (John 21:17).
In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s February Honorable Mention)
by Meredith Dixon
When we miscommunicate with a staff member, hurt a student’s feelings, or miss a deadline, we are in a position to look up and remember that our value and worth do not come from our , but only from the fact that we are God’s children, perfectly loved by him.
Those of us in ministry have the joy of working out of this truth. Our status before the Father is secure on our busiest day as much as our laziest. Whether we judge our weeks as incredibly successful, or if we feel as though we are not making a lick of a difference in students’ lives, God’s love for us hasn’t moved an iota.