Rooted’s Top Ten of September 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 

Youth Pastors Are Not Apprentices by Michael F. Bird (Word from the Bird)

If so many kids, tweens, teens, and young adults are leaving the church, maybe it is because we’ve treated children and youth ministry as an afterthought rather than one of THE MOST important missions of the church to our own kids.

Ten Tips on Preaching to Teenagers by Mike McGarry

Here are my Top Ten Tips for Preaching to Teenagers… five are more doctrinal, and five about delivery. These aren’t in order of priority or importance, but the first five are in order of progression.

Why Youth Group Involvement Is Down (and What to Do About It) by Cameron Cole (TGC)

With limited access to students, you must make every gathering count…Today, it’s essential to include the key ingredients for discipleship—Bible study, prayer, and community—at every event. There’s no room for fluff.

Partnering with Parents 

There’s No One Equation for Educating Christian Kids by Gretchen Ronnevik (Christianity Today)

We subconsciously start to believe that if we parent perfectly, we’ll have perfect children—and homeschooling offers a level of control that other education options can’t match. But this is a formula devoid of the doctrine of sin and redemption. At its root, it’s a sort of salvation through works. It’s devastating—and not only for the children who lose their faith.

5 Ways the Digital Age Is Transforming the Way You Think by Samuel James (Crossway)

Our tendency is often to think of these technologies as just neutral “tools” that do whatever we ask them to do. But this is not quite right. The Web is a language-shaping habitat that transforms how we think. The question is not whether we will be shaped by the Web; the question is, How is the Web shaping us, and how do we respond?

Youth Culture

Why Young People Need Mental Health-Friendly Youth Ministry by Laura Atwater Holliday (Fuller Youth Institute)

Countless times in the New Testament, Jesus is seen showing up for people where they are. He doesn’t minimize their experience or fight them over their theology. Rather, he stops what he’s doing and sits with people in the midst of their realities and their pain.

Teens Spend Nearly 2 Hours a Day on TikTok — and Barely Look at Facebook, a New Study Says. See How Other Apps Stack Up. By Haley Tenore (Insider)

Younger phone users are glued to TikTokfor around two hours every day, according to a new study that tracked the screen time of kids from ages 11 to 17.

Ministry Skills

Exploring the Tapestry of Latina Church Youth Ministry by Roslyn Hernández (Fuller Youth Institute)

Although most traditional White churches are in decline, the U.S. Latina church is one of the fastest growing. And yet, almost all books and trainings about youth ministry are based upon White youth ministries with a paid youth pastor who creates weekly events for students. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

Misreading Scripture Cross-culturally by Shiao Chong (Banner)

The Bible, even though it’s for us, was not written to us, but to audiences greatly removed from us in time, culture, and language…If we do not respect the historical, cultural, and linguistic differences between us and Scripture, we are in danger of reading modern cultural ideas back into the Bible and distorting whatever insights we might get out of it. 

How to Talk to a Christian-Curious Agnostic by Justin Brierley (Christianity Today)

how can those of us who believe in this story—of a God who became incarnate, lived, died, and rose again to bring humanity back into relationship with him—engage with a Christian-curious agnostic? Here are three lessons I’ve learned in speaking to the leaders and adherents of this new wave atheist movement.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read of September

Making Youth Group ‘Senior Night’ More Than Once Each Year by Danny Kwon 

The weekly gathering provided time for students to eat, fellowship, and find some refuge from the pressures of their senior year.

Ask Rooted: How Can Youth Ministers Equip Lay Leaders to Partner With Parents? By Connor Coskery, Terrence Shay, and Chelsea Kingston Erickson 

We do well to build bridges between volunteers and parents that enable them to dialogue, problem-solve, and pray together for their students.

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

Disability and the Gospel for Youth Ministers by Gigi Saunders 

Families with special needs would likely say their core needs are very similar to neurotypical families—to be seen and known, and to belong in community.