Hey, Friends! Whether you’re on day one or year forty, we all know that serving in youth ministry can sometimes feel like a daunting task. In those moments some of us are fortunate enough to have someone to turn to that has maybe navigated those waters before us. Others of us have found ourselves, confused, frustrated and alone. Well, the great news is that even if you happen to find yourself by yourself, you’re far from being alone.
As a result of years of research and writing, there are so many great books available that allow us to be mentored by some of youth ministry’s best and brightest. We can learn from their pitfalls and their triumphs. We can utilize their resources and we can find ourselves overcoming our biggest challenges without many of the missteps that have thrown others off of the path. Some of our friends that we’ve met through years have shared their go to books that have helped them to navigate the many challenges of youth ministry and equipped them to serve their families, their churches and their young people well in every season of their life and ministry.
So in no particular order, here were some of the fan favorites and why they were chosen.
Divided by Faith, by Smith and Emerson—great resource if you’re building towards a multicultural church/youth ministry.
Your First 2 years of Youth Ministry, by Doug Fields—comprehensive book to help you not only survive, but thrive during the beginning phases of your youth ministry career and prepare for the long haul in ministry.
Sustainable Youth Ministry, by Mark Devries—in this book Devries pinpoints problems that cause division and burnout in addition to dispelling strongly held myths. He does all of this while providing practical tools and structures that church leaders need to lay a strong foundation for a youth ministry not built around personality or trend.
The Ministry of Nurture by Duffy Robbins—a practical, in depth look at leading your kids into discipleship.
Adoptive Youth Ministry by Chap Clark—the focus of this book is to help you learn how to integrate emerging generations into the family of faith, helping young adults become active participants in God’s redemptive community.
Taking Theology to Youth Ministry by Andrew Root—focuses on addressing key theological ideas in a modern youth context.
The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert Coleman—this book reminds disciple makers to teach to the masses, model to large groups, mentor a few, and multiply yourself through 1 or 2 people.
Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller—this book reminds us that relationship is God’s way of leading us to redemption.
Youth Ministry Management Tools 2.0: Everything You Need to Successfully Manage Your Ministry by Mike A. Work and Ginny Olson—it honestly simplifies all of the practical essentials, gives you sample forms and provides a quick primer on background checks, medical releases, etc.
The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry by Kenda Dean and Andrew Root—the book helps you to reflect on your own practice of theology, and learn how to share that theology through rich, compassionate conversation and purposeful experience.
Letters to a Youth Worker by Mark Devries—this book allows you to have some of the best youth ministers in the country ride shotgun on your journey by providing wisdom and insight into practical and effective youth ministry.
Presence-Centered Youth Ministry by Mike King—this book gives shape to what it means to develop a ministry where kids learn what it is to love and follow Christ through the classic disciplines and potent symbols and practices that have sustained the church over the centuries.
Love Does by Bob Goff—this book is a light and fun, unique and profound read with the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude and just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.
Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry—both practical and theological, the authors work to explore how each ministry activity serves to teach, form and equip our teens with the gospel.
Gospel-Centered Discipleship—outlines a spiritual transformation through the work of the gospel in an intentional relationship between shepherd and sheep.
Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley—a great book for setting healthy boundaries around your team so that you can effectively serve your family and serve in your ministry.
Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy—this book shows how coaching makes developing people a high-payoff activity. It allows you to equip tomorrow’s leaders today. And it gives you the ability to improve performance while raising the quality of life inside and outside of the ministry.
Getting to Yes and Crucial Conversations—this book is useful for learning to navigate the important church staff and parenting issues that go with student ministry.
Don’t Do This by Len Kegler and Jonathan Hobbs—helps rookie youth leaders to know some things that may be more advantageous to stay away from in their youth ministry journey.
Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean—does a great job of placing youth ministry in the context of the local church, and the responsibilities that each has for the other.
The Youth Builder by Jim Burns—this book can help you to make a life-changing impact in the lives of your young people.
Playing God by Andy Crouch—this book looks at the concept of power and how we’ve made it a dirty word and how the misuse of power causes many different problems in the world.
Youth Ministry 3.0: A Manifesto of Where We’ve Been, Where We Are and Where We Need to Go by Mark Oestreicher—in this book youth workers will explore the voices of other youth workers, why we need change in youth ministry, from a ministry moving away from dependence on programs, to one that is focused on communion and mission.
My First 90 Days in Ministry by Group—practical, from the trenches advice to keep you on safe ground as you navigate a new church culture, settle into a ministry role, and sort through a pile of priorities.
This Way To Youth Ministry by Duffy Robbins—in this book thirty-year youth ministry veteran Duffy Robbins explores the theology, theory and practice of youth ministry to serve as a field guild to helping you navigate this unique calling.
The Godbearing Life by Kenda Dean and Ron Foster—in this book the authors offer a spiritual primer and practical guide for those who pastor young people.
Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry by Andy Root—this book shows that true relational youth ministry shaped by the incarnation is a commitment to enter into the suffering of all, to offer all those in high school or junior high the solidarity of the church and gives us guidance for how to effectively enter in.
So that’s what we have to offer. Which ones have you already used? Which ones are you most excited about checking out? What are some books that we haven’t mentioned, but have been ministry game changers for you? Share the wealth and let’s keep growing together!
Kristin D. Hemingway is a Detroit native currently residing in Atlanta, GA. With over 12 years of youth ministry experience, she currently serves under-resourced middle and high school students in the metro area. She loves traveling and helping people to live a life that they absolutely love!