Rooted’s Top Ten of February 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 

Gen Z’s Biggest Obstacles May Be Their Greatest Gospel Opportunities by Kyle Richter and Emilee McEnery (TGC) 

The Jesus movement has always been contagious because of its radical hospitality, countercultural love, and sacrificial service aided by the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. We believe Gen Z will be drawn back to the church by the same.

Persevering in Ministry Difficulty by David Tang (SOLA)
And then he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “What you have to think about is this – are there still sheep in DCBC? If so, do they still need a shepherd? Would you stay to shepherd them? It is okay to stay. You don’t have to leave.”

Partnering with Parents 

Who’s Afraid of the Teenage Years? By Tim Challies (Challies)

I was often warned of the struggles of parenting teens but rarely told of the blessings. I was often assured that it would be a time of difficulty but rarely encouraged that it would be a time of pleasure. Yet the years have proven that the joys of parenting teens have far exceeded the sorrows and the blessings have far exceeded the troubles.

The Wonderful, Dangerous World of Sports by Tanner Swansen (Desiring God)

At their best, sports are an exercise in worship and witness. We have only to believe that Jesus is worthy in every loss and worth more than every victory (Philippians 3:8), and then train and play and watch and cheer like it.

Why Can’t My Teen Make Normal Conversation? By Tom Sugimura (SOLA)

This usually happens in that magic moment when the hour hand strikes and you turn into a pumpkin. But if you can pry your eyelids open for just a season, you might gain entry into your child’s heart.

Youth Culture

Why Children Need Risk, Fear, and Excitement in Play—And Why Adults’ Fears Put Them at Risk by Mariana Brussoni (After Babel)

The problem lies not with our intentions. We all want children to thrive. The problem is in the decisions we’ve made to support this noble goal. We’ve prioritized safety over freedom, achievement over play, and screen time over outdoor time. The results are predictable: compromised mental and physical health, cognitive development, and emotional competence.

The State of the Culture, 2024, Or a glimpse into post-entertainment society (it’s not pretty) by Ted Gioia (The Honest Broker)

The fastest growing sector of the culture economy is distraction. Or call it scrolling or swiping or wasting time or whatever you want. But it’s not art or entertainment, just ceaseless activity.

Ministry Skills

Doubt is a Ladder, Not a Home by Brad East (Christianity Today)

Doubt begins with a loss of trust or credibility; questions do not. My children ask me questions every day, not because they doubt me, but because they trust me. For this reason saints and mystics adore questions, including questions that cannot be answered in this life. Questions arise from and foster our trust in God. Questions grow faith.

Drawing Healthy Boundaries in Ministry by Dani Proctor (YM360)

Passion and responsibility can be powerful forces that God uses for our good, our students’ good, and His glory, but if we are not careful, they can also be used against us. They can be things that the enemy distorts to steal, kill, and destroy. It’s been both my experience and observation that an unhealthy work/life balance for those in ministry often comes from unhealthy boundaries driven by distorted passion or a distorted sense of responsibility.

One of the Most Important Ministry Skills That Nobody Talks About by Michael J. Kruger (Canon Fodder)

S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-Fil-A, has a very famous quote: “Food is essential to life, therefore make it good.” When it comes to ministry and meetings, something similar could be said: “Meetings are essential to ministry, therefore make them good.”

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of February

What Teenagers Need in a Youth Pastor Might Surprise You by Steve Eatmon 

When you are patient with their shortcomings, problems and annoyances, you will find that many teenagers will grow to respect you, even if you were a teenager before cell phones or the Internet.

The How and Why of Mission Trip Fundraising with Your Youth Group by Mitchell Dixon 

Introducing our middle and high schoolers to the mission field—whether far away or in our own hometowns—is an education in Christian obedience and joy. 

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

A Bad Trade: Helping Teenagers See Sexual Sin Clearly by Jennifer Kvamme 

Friends, this is why we’re in youth ministry. We want our students to know the joy of walking with Jesus as their greatest treasure!