Rooted’s Top Ten of March 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 chelsea@rootedministry.com.

Gospel-Centered Ministry 

How Do Our Kids Stay Christian? By Cameron Schaffer (Mere Orthodoxy)

The church can prioritize childhood discipleship first by encouraging parents to take the airplane-oxygen mask approach. Are parents being taught the faith so that they may have something to believe in themselves? Are parents being encouraged to be diligent in their own discipleship? Are they being given tools to teach and catechize their own children? Are they showing their kids that faith and worship matter into adulthood, not just as concepts, but as committed practices?

Just Jesus? By Walt Mueller (CPYU)

You see, while Jesus does say “Come as you are!”, Jesus never says “Stay as you are.” Rather, he calls his followers to count the cost that comes with denying one’s self, submitting one’s self to His will and way, and then carrying the cross of dying to self. This is true faith. To somehow communicate that the Christian faith is a “just Jesus” faith in this manner is actually a half-truth that is just as deadly as a complete lie.

My Disabled Son Is the Image of God by Greg Harris (Christianity Today)

At next Sunday morning’s service, look around at your sanctuary and evaluate whether your church building hosts the kind of space and community where disabled persons can find a robust and rich belonging. But before that, we need to ask ourselves whether we truly believe all people, even those with disabilities, are made in God’s image and according to God’s will.

Partnering with Parents 

Be Careful, Your Kids Are Emulating Your Works Righteousness by Kristen Wetherell (Crossway)

What we communicate to our kids matters. Are we conveying that God is generally sour-faced and disappointed in them? Or is he full of joyful expectation over who he’s making them to be and, for this reason, that he disciplines his children in love? Are we generally encouraging our children just as much as, if not more than, we are correcting them? Are we hyper-aware of what wonderful treasures they are, or are we majoring on their flaws?

You Can Parent Teens With Hope in a Secular Age by Melissa Kruger (TGC)

As parents, we can acknowledge the giants of our secular culture while courageously trusting that God is more powerful than our enemies. We turn from man-made idolatrous solutions by developing a deep, daily trust in and reliance on God—his promises, his Word, his plan. Here are five reasons we can have hope as we raise our teens in a secular age.

Youth Culture

‘It’s Causing Them to Drop Out of Life’: How Phones Warped Gen Z by Marc Novicoff (Ploitico)

in his new book, The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, [Jonathan Haidt] is launching a shot in what he hopes will become a full-scale war against social media and smartphone use by kids and teens.

Stop Talking About It. You’ll Feel Better. By Matthew Hosier (Think Theology)

As Christians we know that true happiness comes when we forget ourselves, not focus on ourselves. It is in the moment of absorbed focus on something outside ourselves – something bigger and better than us – that we feel most complete. This is why it is as we give ourselves in worship to God that we find our greatest joy and integrity. It is when we really ‘lose ourselves’ in wonder at the Saviour and what he has done that we truly find ourselves (Matt 16:25).

Ministry Skills

Five Key Areas of Apologetics for Student Ministry by Andrew Slay (Youth Pastor Theologian)

The doctrine of God, his being, character, and attributes affect everything else a teenager believes. Therefore, it is vital that youth workers can defend God’s existence from nature and Scripture and teach their students to do likewise.

How The Babylonian Exile Informs Gen Z’s Evangelism by Matthew Goldstine (TGC)

Whether or not they realize it, Gen Zers don’t need the watered-down social media Jesus (or a hypercaricatured, wrath-only Jesus). They don’t need a Jesus whose teachings they “like” from time to time, whenever those teachings happen to fit with whatever else the algorithm serves up. They need a Jesus who truly transforms all aspects of their lives. This is the Jesus of the Bible, and he’s far more satisfying than the distorted versions we make in our own image.

3 new ways to teach teenagers to pray (+ free download) by Rachel Dodd (Fuller Youth Institute)

As a youth ministry leader, one of the biggest encouragements I take from the scene of Jesus and the three in the Garden of Gethsemane is this: if Jesus was able to predict that a disciple would betray him, he probably knew that Peter, James, and John were going to fall asleep, too.

Yet that didn’t stop Jesus from inviting them to pray.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of March

Teaching Teenagers to Teach Themselves From the Bible by Skyler Flowers 

There’s an aspect we can easily overlook in the task of teaching: teaching students to teach themselves. 

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay: The Importance of Gospel Centrality in Asian American Youth Ministries by Huey Lee 

We need to show our Asian American students that because of the gospel, it’s okay to not be okay.

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

What Are Demons? (Tough Questions Teenagers Ask) by Michael Goldstein 

One of the benefits of the gospel is that those in Christ do not need to live in fear of any demonic being or force of evil, but rather to know that Jesus has given them power and authority over demons.