Rooted’s Top Ten of October 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 

A Plea for More Unicorns in Youth Ministry by Dave Chiswell (TGC Australia)

As I’ve returned to youth ministry after a few years of ministering to adults I’ve become increasingly aware that I need every bit of my training, experience, and postgrad theology degree to serve young people. If anything, I need it more in youth ministry than I did with my work as a pastor of adults.

How to Teach Theologically at Youth Group by Mike McGarry (Youth Pastor Theologian)

This is why we teach the Bible at youth group, rather than teaching from our favorite theology book. Teaching theologically means we teach Scripture with special attention to biblical theology because we want students to know who God is and what it means to be a Christian. 

Let the Children Play: Their Lives Depend on It by Russell Moore (Christianity Today)

The next generation needs security—counsel, guidance, affection, love. But they also need to not be responsible for assuaging all the adult anxieties of their parents or teachers. They need to play. They need to wander. They need to imagine. That’s true of parenting, and it’s true of discipleship too.

Partnering with Parents 

You Can Only Break the News of War so Gently by Carrie McKean (Christianity Today)

Now that she’s in middle school and immersed in a world where everyone has the world in their pockets, I’ve learned our family’s personal boundaries about technology are all but irrelevant. We don’t allow social media on her cell phone, but she could see a murder over someone’s shoulder in health class. We limit her contacts, but we can’t keep her from overhearing, in the school cafeteria, the screams of a woman halfway around the world.

When Your Daughter Feels Surrounded… Yet Alone by Kari Kampakis (Village Voice)

Surround her with positive people and voices, even surprising her with a visit from a best friend from camp or a cousin who’s like a sister. Invite people into your home who create joy, warmth and community and make her feel like she belongs. Most importantly, ask God to help you as you help her. 

Youth Culture

Yes, It’s the Phones (and Social Media) by Jean M. Twenge (Generation Tech)

In this post, I’ll consider 13 alternative explanations for the increases in teen depression, loneliness, and suicide since 2011, including some original analyses and figures. Some explanations are easily refuted, some seem plausible at first but don’t stand up to further scrutiny, and others may work alongside smartphones and social media in causing the adolescent mental health crisis.

5 Reasons Gen Z Is Primed for Spiritual Renewal by Kyle Richter (TGC)

Gen Z is spiritually starved. The disorienting circumstances of the last three years—a global pandemic, countless mass shootings, the woke wars, a contested election, rapid inflation, and widespread abuse scandals—created a famine of identity, purpose, and belonging.

Ministry Skills

It’s Not Too Late: A Review of “The Great Dechurching” by Michael Agapito (SOLA)

As someone that oversees student ministry, one discussion that caught my eye was on the “missed generational hand-off.” People are most likely to dechurch in high school, college, or the years following college. Unfortunately, 68% of dechurched evangelicals said that their parents played a role in their decision to leave church. 

What Should We Make of the Hypothetical “Q” Source? By Michael J. Kruger (Canon Fodder)

Students of the Gospels will know that there has been a long-standing discussion among scholars about the relationship between the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). These three Gospels are so similar at so many points (often word for word), that it raises a number of intriguing questions. Did they know each other? Did they use each other?

3 Reasons You Should Try Writing the Conclusion of Your Sermon First by Andy Shurson (For the Church)

When you write the conclusion first, you essentially establish your sermon’s destination. With the end point clear in your mind, you can thoughtfully plot the course you wish to navigate to get there.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of October

1. The Importance of the Songs We Sing and the Stories We Tell by Mark Howard

Let’s draw out for others the ways and means by which God is at work in the stories we choose to tell.

2. The Important Role of the Church in Family Discipleship 

We hope this presentation on “The Important Role of the Church in Family Discipleship” will bless and encourage you in both your youth and family ministry.

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

Four Themes for Teaching Chronicles to Teenagers by Seth Stewart 

The central message Chronicles gives to an up-and-coming generation is to listen to the voice of God.