Rooted’s Top Ten of January 2023

ten january 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 share it with us in the comment section below.

Gospel-Centered Ministry

The Cry from Memphis: How Long, O Lord? By George Robertson (TGC)
It has been a tough week in Memphis. Even if you haven’t been personally affected by some of the tragedies, you may know someone who has. And even if you don’t, as Christians we’re called to compassion, a “feeling with” others in their pain…Here are three things I want you to know and be ready to share with others at this time.

The Posture of the Youth Pastor by Robin Barfield (Youth Pastor Theologian)
The posture of the youth pastor is one who models the person of Jesus before the young people so that they can see the truth and beauty of the gospel, not just hear about it…When this is consistently modeled, with God’s help, your youth group will become a place where the hurting, dispossessed or angry young person feels loved and cared for. That is a faithful gospel culture. 

The Church Was Meant to Enjoy Its Diversity, Not Wish It Away. by Helen Lee and Michelle Ami Reyes (Christianity Today)
We believe that God’s intent is for all of us to lean into the beautiful differences inherent in the body of Christ and to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that the love of Christ ultimately overcomes all barriers and binds his people—his diverse and multiethnic people—in such perfect unity that “the world will know that [God] sent [him]” (John 17:23).

Partnering with Parents 

Let’s Stop Asking High School Graduates Where They Are Going to College by Whitney Fleming (Parenting Teens and Tweens)
We need to build our kids up–every single one–irrespective of their future plans. We need to stop the myth that our young people need to know their life’s plan at the age of 18. As a high school senior, you don’t have to have it all together. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do or where you want to go.

Recovering Proverbs 22:6 for a New Generation by Chap Bettis (The Disciple-Making Parent)
Because of this past misunderstanding, this verse has fallen out of favor. I have not heard any parent mention it in a very long time. This is unfortunate. It is still God’s holy and helpful word. I would suggest a younger generation needs to study, meditate on, and recover the importance of Proverbs 22:6. How? By recovering the importance of training!

Youth Culture

The Young Adult’s Guide to Social Media by Tristany Corgan (Gospel-Centered Discipleship)
Social media is the primary cause of anxiety and depression in the lives of so many young adults, yet it has imbedded itself so deeply in our culture that we can’t seem to escape it. If you’re a young adult (or an adult of any age) and you have the ability to get off of social media, do it. I once heard it said that you’ll never look back and think, “Gee, I wish I spent more time on social media.” You’ll experience a level of freedom and peace you haven’t felt in a long time.

Discussing Sex and Dating with Teens by Mike McGarry (New Growth Press)
When youth group only talks about sex once a year, usually a few weeks before prom season, it makes sense that many students will be more shaped by the messages the culture and their peers are sending: “Sex is awesome.” “Love is love.” “Be careful, but do what you want so long as the other person gives consent.” Others graduate from youth ministry with the impression that sex is inherently sinful. Some Christians even feel guilty about having sex after they get married because of the way sex was discussed during their teen years. The solution is not to overcorrect by talking about how great and awesome sex is, but simply to be biblical.

Ministry Skills 

When Were Christians First Regarded as Intolerant “Haters”? By Michael J. Kruger (Canon Fodder)
It’s easy in the heat of the current cultural moment to think that our situation is unique. No Christians have ever faced what we face, we might think. But, that’s simply not the case.  Christians in the early centuries faced precisely the same accusations, and often much worse. Let me offer just two examples: Pliny the Younger and Emperor Nero.

9 Proofs You’re More Than Matter by Thaddeus Williams (TGC)
To be an image-bearer of God is to be an image-bearer of the One who thought up the laws of gravity, thermodynamics, and the periodic table. We aren’t dead-eyed automatons. We’re post-fingertip-touch beings who exhibit the amazing gift of consciousness.

A Neglected Key to Ministry Success by Vera Christian (SOLA Network)
If you want to lead with integrity–whether a parent at home or a pastor in a pulpit–going on retreat is vital, not optional. We who encourage others to follow Christ must do likewise…Let me be clear: going on retreat will not earn us salvation. That is legalism. Rather see it as an act of love, an expression of gratitude to our Savior and a desire to be shaped by Him for service.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of January

Belonging Before Anything Else in Youth Group by Syler Thomas
When nonbelievers show up to your group, the most important thing you can do is to include them as part of your gospel ministry. Help those students know they belong in your group, help them glimpse the gracious welcome of Jesus—whether or not they ever change their beliefs.

Discipling the Difficult Teenager by Matt Polk
When we have the mind of Christ towards our students, we see them for who they really are—image bearers of God, loved, broken, and needy. This mindset shift adds needed fuel to the fire of our mission of discipleship. It helps us see all of our students as worthy recipients of our devotion.

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

Weekly Preparation to Teach the Bible at Youth Group by Matt Ballard
I clearly define the gospel and connect the text to Christ every time I teach because I want students to have a robust understanding of the storyline of Scripture, which reveals the gospel. Our teaching should help students understand that the Bible is primarily about God and his plan to a redeem a people for himself.