Rooted’s Top Ten of July 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

God’s Eternality is Good News for Youth Ministry by Josh Fikkert (Youth Pastor Theologian)

We must be good stewards of the time we do have, investing it in relationships with students and instructing them in God’s word with wisdom and clarity, giving them glimpses of Christ’s kingdom and the ultimate hope that awaits them in eternity. We will not get every important point across, and we may not see the type of fruit that we desire in the lives of our students, but we know that the same God who has been sovereignly watching over creation since its inception will work in their lives for His glory and their good.

Theology: The Missing Piece in Discipleship by Jen Wilkin and J.T. English (TGC)

If a disciple is a learner, a disciple maker is a teacher. But we cannot teach what we’ve never been taught. We cannot transmit to another generation what hasn’t been transmitted to us. We won’t aspire to teach anyone the basic beliefs of our faith if we don’t first consider ourselves to be theologians.

Hope for the Struggles We All Face by David Powlison (New Growth Press)

You serve this King and Savior, and his service is not always convenient. He puts you out of your comfort zone. He strips away the illusions that you can control people and events. He doesn’t let you create a safe zone where you don’t need to care about broken lives. As a person whose confidence rests outside of yourself and in God, your life purpose is to love people who need the Savior who loves you. You are only giving away a bit of what is being lavished on you.

Partnering with Parents 

A Letter for the Middle School Years by Jen Wilkin (Risen Motherhood)

In short, in a world that is decidedly unsafe, we decide to make home a safe place to be a limited human, half-grown and hurtling toward adulthood. This is easier said than done. It requires a great deal of shared time together to build and keep trust, to nurture conversation after conversation, to keep relational channels open…Take it from an empty-nester: You will never look back on your child-rearing years and say, “I wish we had spent more time apart.”

A Letter for the High School Years by Missie Branch (Risen Motherhood)

Through those roller-coaster years, I wish I had been more committed to making our home a place of shalom…Being a teenager can be disorienting—transitioning from the carefree fun of childhood while not yet free enough to be considered an adult. Home should be the spot where our kids’ questions are safe, their feelings are allowed to be shared, and their doubts are welcomed to be processed, as we know that the world is working to enlist them into its own agenda.

Bonus from the Editor: Since everyone is talking about Threads (Meta’s new social media platform), here’s a common-grace word of advice for parents of daughters from social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk.

Youth Culture

The Good in Barbie (And Yes, I’m a Christian) by Katie Polski (

The message in the film is that women can change the world for the better. Child of God, this is true. But it’s not true because of what you do; it’s true because you can use your position to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you do that, woman of God, you will indeed change the world for the better. 

Should We Embrace or Evict AI in Churches? By Patrick Miller (TGC)

Just as David “served the purpose of God in his own generation,” we’re called to serve God’s purpose in this generation (Acts 13:36). How we navigate AI today in our churches and in our personal lives will structure the ethical norms inherited by our children. We need to think about AI cross-generationally.

Bible Teaching 

How Were the Books of the Bible “Chosen”? By Michael J. Kruger (Canon Fodder)

In a sense, one might say that the Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament, chose themselves. What I mean by this is that they were recognized as the books bearing the voice of Christ by the earliest believers. For more on this, see my article “What do we mean when we say the Bible is ‘self-authenticating’?”

Finding the Big Idea When Preaching and Teaching: An Interview with Matthew D. Kim (SOLA)

In this engaging interview, professor Matthew D. Kim and SOLA Network editorial curator Aaron Lee discuss “The Big Idea Companion for Preaching and Teaching,” a book edited by Kim and Scott Gibson. The book serves pastors as a guide to approach different biblical passages by identifying the central “big idea” that shapes the sermon’s message. Kim explains that the big idea represents the main thrust of the biblical text, allowing listeners to take home a clear and applicable message.

Jesus on Procreation by Andrew Bunt (ThinkTheology)

I still sometimes hear it claimed that Jesus had nothing to say on the matter of same-sex marriage. In strict terms, it’s true to say he didn’t address the topic directly. And why would he in a Jewish cultural context where everyone recognised that same-sex unions fell outside of God’s parameters for marriage? But to admit Jesus didn’t address same-sex marriage directly isn’t the same as saying he didn’t communicate anything relevant to the matter and that we can’t know what he would say to us now. Jesus’s conversation with the Sadducees is another place where the words of Jesus himself help us to understand his view on what marriage really is.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of July

Book Review: ‘Discover: Questioning Your Way to Faith’ by Mike McGarry by Danny Kwon 

Discover is an invitation for students to come to Jesus and seek the answers they’re looking for in him.

4 Ways to Teach the Gospel from 1 and 2 Kings by Seth Stewart 

David’s son is on the throne, and neither death nor any rebellion can overthrow his rightful rule.

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

Experiencing the Fullness of God as a Single Youth Minister by Emily Siebert 

No matter what your relationship status is on earth, you have a heavenly Bridegroom who sees you, knows you, and loves you so much that he chose to die for you to make you his Bride forever