Rooted’s Top Ten of September 2022

girls with books

Welcome to the 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

Reframing the Work of Youth Leaders by Andy Jung (Fuller Youth Institute)
In Christ, God made a way for us to be God
s sons and daughters. The role of youth ministry in churches should be to help young people understand that through faith in Jesus, we are adopted into Gods family and that they play an important part in the family.

On this episode of the FTC Podcast, Jared Wilson visits with Cameron Cole, chairman of Rooted Ministries, about the state of student ministry in American evangelicalism and what greater gospel-centrality in these ministries would look like. 

Partnering with Parents

Its a common parenting misstep; we often take our cues from what other parents are doing. We assume that if families around us, especially Christian families, are allowing such things, then it must be OK. Maybe you didnt want to deprive your child of something that it seemed like everyone else had. Maybe you feared being typecast as the only parent,” “overly protective,” or too strict,” or as preventing your children from advancing with their generation. These fears take our eyes off evaluating what is wise and good, and toward an ideal everyone else seems to have found.

Parents, Just Go to Church by Cameron Cole (TGC)
Nothing can prepare you for the labor that is getting small children out the door to church on a Sunday morning. I don
t know if its spiritual warfare or whiplash from the weekend, but dressing small kids and loading them into the car is a grind. Even when your kids are teenagers, there are days they seem to resist just about anything you suggest. Getting to church is hard. But thats part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christians daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ. 

Youth Culture

Tom Lin spoke to Heidi Wong, SOLA Editorial Board member and college ministry director at Exilic Church in New York City. They discussed the current state of the college generation in terms of faith, especially Asian American college students. Their conversation included: Supporting college students moving to a new city, using social media to reach out to new students, spending time with students to learn about them, and conversations around mental health.

Redshirt the Boys by Richard V. Reeves (the Atlantic)
By high school, the female advantage has become entrenched. The most common high-school grade for girls is now an A; for boys, it is a B. Twice as many girls as boys are in the top 10 percent of students ranked by GPA, and twice as many boys as girls are among those with the lowest grades. It
s an international pattern: Across economically advanced nations, boys are 50 percent more likely than girls to fail at all three key school subjects: math, reading, and science. In the U.S., almost one in five boys does not graduate high school on time, compared with one in 10 girls—the rate for boys is about the same as that for students from low-income families.

Gen Z’s Favorite Brands, Revealed by Jennifer A Kingson (Axios)

The youngest generation of adults is so crazy for tech companies that YouTube, Google, Netflix and Amazon are their four favorite corporate brands, a new Morning Consult survey finds. Gen Z also loves junk food and mass retail: The other brands in their top 10 are M&Ms, Doritos, KitKat and Oreo, plus Amazon, Walmart and Target.

Ministry Skills

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution by Andrew Wilson (THINK Theology)

Books like this, as uncomfortable as they are in places, can remind me what young people (and our daughters in particular) are facing and stir me toward compassion, action, and prayer. The modern sexual revolution was responding to real problems. But its solution, Perry argues, has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. It hasnt delivered on its promises…Feminists, like Christians, should be saying so and writing books about it. Louise Perry has. You should read it.

What Should We Sing With Students? By Will Standridge (Youth Pastor Theologian)

When we use our student service as a place to sing what we wont sing on Sundays we may accidentally teach students that Sunday isnt a service for them. Our student services become burdens instead of blessings when they cause division in the church instead of fostering unity. Pick some songs for your students that you also sing on Sundays. The style of music may change due to resources or logistics, but the songs can remain the same. This will reinforce to students they are a part of the whole church and may even encourage them to sing better and louder on Sundays. 

Is See You At The Pole Still Effective? By Travis Deans (National Network of Youth Ministries)
In years past we used to use phrases like “take a stand for Chris,t” “be bold about your faith,” “set your school on fire,” and so on when we talked about See You At The Pole. While these were helpful at that time, I think some better ways of expressing it now might be “show God’s love to your school,” “be a blessing because God has blessed you,” “don’t just tell, but BE good news in your school.” However we encourage it, I believe that students who follow Jesus still need concrete, tangible ways to help them remember that following Jesus is an all-the-time, everywhere kind of thing.

Rooteds Two Most-Read of September

And then we must play the long game in middle school ministry. Time means week after week of teaching gospel doctrine while embodying gospel culture. We just keep showing up, keep teaching, and keep praying, while the weeks turn into months, which turn into years. Little happens quickly when ministering to middle schoolers. Growth in Christ is not a linear, overnight process, so we seek to offer multiple exposures to the gospel, week after week, year after year, as the Lord works in the hearts of middle schoolers We dont offer deadlines. We provide a consistent, patient, non-anxious presence.

As the false reality of the online world encroaches upon our students, youth workers have an opportunity to show them a better way—one that leads them away from their feeds and screens and towards the unending source of life in Jesus Christ.

In Case You Missed It (Rooteds September Honorable Mention)

What Ive learned over the years is that we need both freshness and wisdom in the church, and particularly in youth ministry. For this reason, its essential to build an intergenerational youth ministry team—and often this starts with creating healthy and interactive relationships between senior pastors and youth ministers.


Advancing Grace-Driven Youth Ministry

More From This Author