Rooted’s Top Ten of February 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 speak to the Rooted community, please email the editor at

Gospel-Centered Ministry

Seeing Color Matters in Black History by Terence Lester (Christianity Today)

When we look at the New Testament and the divide between Jewish and Gentile believers, it was the gospel that bridged that gap. And when Peter and other Jewish leaders stumbled due to their cultural and ethnic biases (Gal. 2:11–21), it took Paul stepping up to put them back on the right path. This is what needs to happen in churches today: We must confront the issues right before our eyes in a way that is healthy.

8 Signs of a Healthy Intergenerational Church by Robert and Laura Keeley (The Banner)

Intergenerational churches are those that are intentional about bringing different generations together in a mutual, influential relationship so that they can achieve common goals. The key words are intentional and mutual. Those differences seem subtle, but they are important.

Partnering with Parents 

Academic ‘Success’ Is Not the Point by Andrea Palpant Dilley (Christianity Today)

As parents and caretakers, the vision for our kids’ flourishing starts here on earth but extends all the way into eternity. We’re teaching them to govern creation now but also raising them to co-rule with God in the new creation. As we shape their lives, then, we should pay attention to the principles of eschatological education.

Teens Girls Are Facing a Mental Health Epidemic. We’re Doing Nothing About It by Jean Twenge (Time)

We can’t go back in time five years to prevent the crisis from getting to this point, but we can take action. Parents, tell your kids they can’t have social media until they are 16 – or at all. If they already have it, use parental controls to restrict their social media use to an hour a day, and consider tapering that down to nothing. Kids and teens can communicate with their friends in other ways that don’t have so many risks.

Help teenagers find belonging in a digital world by Brad M. Griffin (Fuller Youth Institute)

When it comes to setting boundaries and establishing ground rules around online engagement, our students likely experience a wide variety of guidance from parents. As youth workers, our default posture should be to support parents’ intentions unless we see reason for concern (in which case our first course of action will nearly always be to talk with the parent or caregiver to understand, unless we believe the student is experiencing abuse at home). But middle and high school students can also begin developing their own personal boundaries, ground rules, and intentions when it comes to how they interact in digital spaces and how these interactions impact their sense of belonging (as well as their sense of identity and purpose).

Youth Culture

‘I’ll call an Uber or 911’: Why Gen Z doesn’t want to drive by Shannon Osaka (Washington Post)

Equipped with ride-sharing apps and social media, “zoomers,” as they are sometimes called, are getting their driver’s licenses at lower rates than their predecessors. Unlike previous generations, they don’t see cars as a ticket to freedom or a crucial life milestone. The question — for American drivers and for the planet — is whether that trend will last.

Barna Highlight: How Teenagers Read the Bible (Barna)

“For now, despite being in a digitally native generation, U.S. Christian teens prefer to use the Bible in print (54%), far ahead of other mediums (17% smartphone or tablet app, 10% online).”

Ministry Skills 

Four Ways Biblical Theology Shapes Conversations About Racism with Youth by Mike McGarry (Youth Pastor Theologian)

GenZ is the most ethnically diverse generation, and they’re coming of age in a time where conversations about racism are everywhere. If we hold our tongue because we’re afraid of getting in trouble for talking about it “wrong,” then we’re shirking an important area of discipleship. Sometimes we will address racism and other challenging topics topically as a head-on message, and sometimes as topics and themes that flow out of the biblical text we are preaching through. Youth workers may differ in the ways they address racism with students, but we do need to address it.

Loving Those Caught in Gender Ideology: The Ethics and Metaphysics of Sexual Identity by Ryan T. Anderson (Christ Over All)

How should we respond when someone adopts an identity at odds with reality, and then asks us to “affirm” that identity, especially if they seek technical interventions in the forms of hormonal or surgical alterations to their bodies? How should we respond when it’s a child or teenager caught up in this craze?

Do the Synoptic Gospels Portray Jesus as God? Rethinking Jesus Walking on the Water by Michael J. Kruger

It is true that John’s Christology is certainly more straightforward and unequivocal…But it does not follow that the Synoptic Gospels somehow deny Jesus is God, or portray Jesus as merely and only human. Instead, I think it is more accurate to say that the Synoptics present Jesus as God in ways that are less overt than John, but are nevertheless clear about his identity as the God of Israel.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of February

New Study of Teenagers and Pronography: Three Things Yout Ministers Need to Know by Chelsea Kingston Erickson 

The Good News for the teenager struggling with pornography use is that Jesus lived the perfect life that he could never hope to live, died in his place for every wrong thing he has done, and rose again to give him a brand new life with God.

Preparing Our Teenagers to Encounter Different Viewpoints in College by Ben Birdsong 

Let us teach teenagers what they believe, the humanity and grace with which to approach someone who believes differently, the discernment to sort truth from error, and a dependence on the work of the Spirit to bring people to new life through the gospel. 

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

Five Steps a Youth Leader Can Take to Help a Teenager With an Eating Disorder by Grace McCready

Walking alongside a teenager with an eating disorder is an opportunity to get involved in a difficult and messy situation that, through God’s grace, has the potential to become a beautiful story of redemption.