The books listed below on the subject of youth ministry are available from retail booksellers and sometimes the public library. They are listed in order of the year of publication. The summaries given are based on bookseller or publisher information, unless otherwise indicated. They do not represent the views of The Presbyterian Church in Canada.
This list will be updated as new books come to our attention. Please send recommendations and summaries to canadianministries [at] presbyterian [dot] ca. If you wish to write a full book review for public posting, please send it and we will link it to the book listing.
Title: Unpacking Scripture in Youth Ministry
Author: Andrew Root
Year/format/pages: 2013/Hardcover, Kindle/128
Summary: Unpacking Scripture in Youth Ministry focuses on how to teach and present the Bible in the lives of teenagers. The author argues that teens are constant interpreters—always asking the questions, “Who am I?” What do others think of me?” And so youth ministers must teach them to interpret the actions of God as revealed in the Bible. This view is different than teaching biblical knowledge—memory verses and Bible facts—and it’s different than teaching them to interpret the Bible themselves. Rather, they are to view the Bible as a tool for interpreting God’s actions and then respond with their own actions.
Title: Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry
Author: Andrew Root
Year/format/pages: 2013/Hardcover, Kindle/128
Summary: In Unlocking Mission and Eschatology in Youth Ministry, the author argues that youth ministers should teach teens to recognize that as Jesus’ disciples they are participating in the very action of God to bring forth the future of God. He argues that our service to God on this earth (mission) is a sign of the new reality that Jesus will bring when he returns (eschatology).
Title: Taking Theology to Youth Ministry
Author: Andrew Root
Year/format/pages: 2012/Hardcover, Kindle/112
Summary: Even if you know you’re called to youth ministry and are passionate about the students in your group, you’ve probably had a few of those moments when you’ve wondered why you’re doing certain things in your ministry, or wondered why you’re even doing youth ministry in the first place. In Taking Theology to Youth Ministry, you are invited along on a journey with Nadia—a fictional youth worker who is trying to understand the “why” behind her ministry. Her narrative, along with the author’s insights, helps you uncover the action of God as it pertains to your own youth ministry, and encourages you to discover how you can participate in that action. As you join this theological journey, you’ll find yourself exploring how theology can and should influence the way you do youth ministry.
Title: Dreaming of More for the Next Generation: Lifetime Faith Ignited by Family Ministry
Author: Michelle Anthony
Year/format/pages: 2012/Paperback, Kindle/192
Summary: With a fresh approach to spiritual formation, this book inspires children’s and family pastors along with their volunteers to take a new look at what is most important in the lives of those they shepherd. Family Ministry is not program driven. It encourages the leader to be Spirit-driven. Children’s and family ministry veteran Michelle Anthony comes alongside readers to help them investigate the “why” behind their ministry paradigm and to focus on the generational outcomes.
Family ministry includes practical examples of how to create an environment that allows the Holy Spirit to work and allows readers to dream about how to empower parents to partner with the church in faith formation. Most importantly, it reminds readers that each person’s life is part of a unique story that God tells through generations. With this truth in mind, readers will know that the difference they make in families’ lives will be eternal.
Title: Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry
Author: Andrew Root
Year/format/pages: 2012/Hardcover, Kindle/128
Summary: Think about sin and the cross—the way that salvation changes who we are and how God sees us. It’s a central part of our faith, and yet it’s one of the most confusing and difficult things to teach—especially to a room full of teenagers.
In Taking the Cross to Youth Ministry, the author invites you along on a journey with Nadia—a fictional youth worker who is wrestling with how to present the cross to her own students in a meaningful way. Using Nadia’s narrative, along with his own insights, the author helps you re-imagine how the cross, sin, and salvation can be taught to students in a way that leads them to embrace a lifestyle that chases after Jesus, rather than creating teenagers who just try to “be good.”
Title: A Theology for Family Ministry
Author: Michael Anthony and Michelle Anthony
Year/format/pages: 2011/Hardcover, Kindle/306
Summary: What was once simply referred to as a nuclear family in North America has morphed into labels such as non-traditional families, fragmented families, single-parent families, gay-partner families, blended families, and beyond. “It may not always be pretty, but it is reality, and that’s the intersection between biblical ideal and ministry practice,” writes the author.
With thoroughly researched input from a broad team of family experts, the book advises church and ministry leaders on how to make biblically and philosophically informed choices when reaching out to adults and children within these shifting paradigms. Emphasis is placed on what the Scriptures teach about the composition of the home, followed by discerning and hope-filled strategies for helping all families live out their God-given mandates. “While the family may continue to change into models that bring discomfort and angst to some of us, we rest in the assurance that God has a plan for those who live in any of these new configurations of what we now call family,” explains Anthony.
Other contributors include Ken Canfield, Michelle D. Anthony, Karen E. Jones, Freddy Cardoza, Michael S. Lawson, Richard Melick Jr., Curt Hamner, Leon Blanchette, Gordon R. Coulter, James W. Thompson, Timothy Paul Jones, Randy Stinson, Kit Rae, and David Keehn.
Title: Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation
Author: Donald Miller
Format: 2011/Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audio/224
Summary: With honest humor and raw self-revelation, bestselling author Donald Miller tells the story of growing up without a father and openly talks about the issues that befall the fatherless generation. Raw and candid, Miller moves from self-pity and brokenness to hope and strength, highlighting a path for millions who are floundering in an age without positive male role models.
Speaking to both men and women who grew up without a father – whether that father was physically absent or just emotionally aloof – this story of longing and ultimate hope will be a source of strength. Single moms and those whose spouses grew up in fatherless homes will find new understanding of those they love as they travel along this literary journey. This is a story of hope and promise. And if you let it, Donald Miller’s journey will be an informal guide to pulling the rotted beams out from our foundations and replacing them with something upon which we can build our lives.
Title: The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry
Author: Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean
Year/format/pages: 2011/Paperback, Kindle/352
Summary: So often we avoid talking about doubts and fears because we feel inadequately equipped to address them in any meaningful way. The crisis of existence can’t be answered with past Sunday school formulas or a few Bible verses, let alone another relay race. The questions our youth have are often the same ones that perplexed the great theologians, driving them to search for God in the places God didn’t appear to be—places of brokenness, suffering and confusion. What if we let these questions drive our search for God too? The authors invite you to envision youth ministries full of practical theologians, addressing the deep questions of life with a wonderfully adolescent mix of idealism, cynicism and prophetic intolerance for hypocrisy. Follow them into reflection on your own practice of theology, and learn how to share that theology through rich, compassionate conversation and purposeful experience.
Title: Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
Author: Kenda Creasy Dean
Year/format/pages: 2010/Hardcover, Kindle/208
Summary: Based on the National Study of Youth and Religion, Almost Christian investigates why American teenagers are at once so positive about Christianity and at the same time so apathetic about genuine religious practice. Dean places the blame on the churches themselves. Instead of proclaiming a God who calls believers to lives of love, service and sacrifice, churches offer a bargain religion, easy to use, easy to forget, offering little and demanding less. But what is to be done? In order to produce ardent young Christians, the author argues, churches must rediscover their sense of mission and model an understanding of being Christian as not something you do for yourself, but something that calls you to share God’s love, in word and deed, with others. Dean found that the most committed young Christians shared four important traits: they could tell a personal and powerful story about God; they belonged to a significant faith community; they exhibited a sense of vocation; and they possessed a profound sense of hope. Based on these findings, Dean proposes an approach to Christian education that places the idea of mission at its core and offers a wealth of concrete suggestions for inspiring teens to live more authentically engaged Christian lives. It is persuasively and accessibly written.
Title: Growing up Christian
Author: John Bowen
Summary: Young people who grow up in church seem to offer great potential for the future of Christianity. Yet often that potential goes unfulfilled. Some give up on Christian faith altogether. Many more give up on church. Others persevere with both faith and church. And yet others return after a time away. So what makes the difference? John Bowen suggests some of the answers to such questions. He has surveyed several hundred young people who “grew up Christian”, and retells their stories about how growing up and leaving home affected their faith-stories that are often poignant, sometimes hilarious, and always insightful.
This book offers helpful lessons for pastors, youth workers and parents who want to know how to help their young people to stay in church and in faith. What kind of church—and what kind of Christianity—do young people want and need? And can the existing church provide it?
Title: OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook
Author: Kenda Creasy Dean
Year/format/pages: 2010/Paperback, Kindle/186
Summary: “Most contemporary young people operate far enough from Moses’ moral compass that it never occurs to them that “OMG” (“oh my God,” in teen-speak) has anything to do with the Ten Commandments, much less that it breaks one of them. After all, the phrase is a nearly ubiquitous adolescent throw-away line. Yet Christians should hear the phrase “oh my God” differently. Youth ministers, parents, teachers—anyone who has ever loved an adolescent—know that “OMG” can be a prayer, a plea, a petition, a note of praise, or an unbidden entreaty that escapes our lips as we seek Christ for the young people we love.”
Using six lens, the authors detail current practices and tease out underlying questions as youth ministry becomes more self-consciously aligned with practical theology. Contributors include: Kenda Creasy Dean, Mike Carotta, Roland Martinson, Rodger Nishioka, Don Richter, Dayle Gillespie Rounds, and Amy Scott Vaughn.
Title: Think Orange
Author: Reggie Joiner
Summary: Families and churches are each working hard to build faith in kids, but imagine the potential results when the two environments synchronize, maximizing their individual efforts. What can the church do to empower the family? How can the family emphasize the work of the church? They can Think Orange. Former family ministry director Reggie Joiner looks at what would happen if churches and families decided they could no longer do business as usual, but instead combined their efforts and began to work off the same page for the sake of the kids. Think Orange shows church leaders how to make radical changes so they can:
- Engage parents in an integrated strategy.
- Synchronize the home and church around a clear message.
- Provoke parents and kids to fight for their relationships with each other.
- Recruit mentors to become partners with the family.
- Mobilize the next generation to be the church.
With a transparent, authentic approach that gives every family and church hope for being more effective in their common mission, Think Orange rethinks the approach to children’s, youth, and family ministry.
Title: Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn’t Last and What Your Church Can Do about It
Author: Mark DeVries
Year/format/pages: 2008/Paperback, Kindle/232
Summary: Youth ministry expert Mark DeVries helps build sustainable youth ministries through his coaching service called Youth Ministry Architects. Based on his own experience and on his many conversations and interviews with churches in crisis, DeVries pinpoints problems that cause division and burnout and dispels strongly held myths. He then provides the practical tools and structures pastors and church leaders need to lay a strong foundation for your ministry so that it isn’t built on a person or the latest, greatest student ministry trend.
Building a sustainable youth ministry is not easy, and it’s not quick. But with commitment to the process, hard work and DeVries’s guidance, you can put together a healthy youth ministry—one that fits your church and lasts for the long haul.
Title: Youth Ministry in the 21st Century, the Encyclopedia of Practical Ideas
Author: Rick Lawrence (Ed.)
Summary: This book includes groundbreaking insights and fresh tools for youth ministry, and over 100 practical ideas! You’ll gain powerful insights and tons of practical ideas to immediately use in your ministry. Includes worship ideas, discussion starters, object lessons, ideas for family activities, outreach, and much more. This volume focuses on findings from the National Study of Youth and Religion.
Title: Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus
Author: Mark Yaconelli
Year/format/pages: 2006/Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle/256
Summary: The author is co-director of the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project, which over the last eight years has gathered together churches and youth ministers from across North America to explore contemplative prayer, discernment, spiritual direction, covenant community, spiritual practice and Sabbath-living as a way of resourcing ministries with youth. This book offers some of the experience, teaching, praying and thinking behind the project.
Title: The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry
Author: Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster
Summary: In The Godbearing Life, the authors offer a lively spiritual primer and practical guide for those who pastor young people. The authors re-chart a course for youth ministry through the classical spiritual disciplines of the church. The book identifies families, congregations, and mentor relationships as the “holy ground” where young people are most likely to say “Yes!” to God.
Title: Single Digit Youth Groups: Working with Fewer Than 10 Teens
Author: Marcey Balcomb
Summary: Even if your church has fewer than 10 teens, your numbers are never too small to offer a relevant youth ministry that powerfully impacts their lives. In fact, smaller numbers allow you to devote more time and concentrate greater attention on your precious few. You can actually give more to less. Single Digit Youth Groups points out many additional benefits that can only be found in a compact group, equipping you with up-to-date actionable plans for:
- starting a small youth ministry.
- establishing meaningful rituals.
- recruiting adult assistance.
- creative youth activities for less than 10 teens.
- committing to a group covenant.
This resource is designed to engage every teen in the room, at every level of maturity, without alienating all the rest. Even in a small church, you can retain and develop the full potential of your special few. Small churches and churches with small numbers of youth will be delighted that someone has finally written just for them! The author helps them discover the joys and power of a single-digit youth group and provides the practical help they need. Fully half the book is filled with awesome activities for small youth groups (41 great activities, to be exact). In addition, the book gives information about essential and helpful forms for use in this youth ministry. These make short work of administration so leaders can spend more time in ministry.
Title: Family-Based Youth Ministry
Author: Mark DeVries
Year/format/pages: 2004/Paperback, Kindle/256
Summary: Family-based youth ministry is about adults relating to teens about discipleship one-on-one and in groups. It is about involving not just the nuclear family but the whole church family—from singles to older adults. More important, it’s about incorporating youth into the life of your church.
So stop worrying about the size of your youth group or your budget. Mark DeVries’s refreshing approach to youth ministry will show you how your church can reach today’s teens and how you can keep them involved in the life of the church. Whether you are a parent, a youth pastor or a church member who cares about teens, you will find in this book an entirely different approach to youth ministry that will build mature Christian believers.
Title: Worship Feast, 100 Awesome Ideas for Postmodern Youth
Author: Daniel S. White, Jonathon Norman, Jenny Piper
Summary: Serve a multi-sensory worship experience to your youth, mixing a cornucopia of ancient contemplative rituals with modern audio-visuals. Engage them with a mix of group participation, silent meditation, and sacred symbolism. Move them with a recipe of ancient chants blended with contemporary Christian rock.
Worship Feast was especially designed for youth workers and pastors who want to reach young people in their worship services by taking the sacred traditions of the worshiping church and blending them with current experiences. This book includes ideas for creating meaningful custom-made services…incorporating multisensory experiential worship elements into existing services (maybe even on Sunday mornings!)
Title: Youth Spirit 2: More Program Ideas for Youth Groups
Author: Cheryl Perry
Summary: Need a few bright ideas for your next youth group meeting? Youth Spirit 2 is filled with great suggestions you can use to create meaningful programs and build community. Just like the first volume Youth Spirit, this book was created with you in mind. Start with the themes you’ll find here, then tailor-make your program to suit your group. New leaders will find helpful information to get started; experienced leaders will find the flexible program ideas inspiring. Youth Spirit 2 will quickly become an indispensable part of your youth ministry resource library.
Title: Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry
Author: Doug Fields
Year/format/pages: 2002/Paperback, Kindle/304
Summary: This book is hands-down the most comprehensive companion to not only surviving, but also thriving, during the most crucial phase of youth ministry. Employing his renowned wisdom and humor, the author disarmingly relates stories and principles from his own successes and failures over 20-plus years in youth ministry. Hee offers treasure troves of practical advice, all in the hope that new youth workers can travel a smoother path and achieve real longevity in a church culture that all too often chews them and spits them out. He covers all-important issues such as:
- dealing with discouragement
- establishing a solid spiritual foundation
- building effective relationships with students
- resolving conflict
- ministering to parents and families
- trailblazing change
- working with volunteers
- defining a realistic job description.
In addition, a chorus of insightful sidebar voices joins your conversation with Doug, among them ministry veterans Jim Burns, Steve Gerali, Mike Yaconelli, Helen Musick, Chap Clark, Marv Penner, Rick Warren, Jana L. Sundene, Bo Boshers, Duffy Robbins, Tony Campolo, and Richard Ross, all who’ve composed extensive, topical essays for each of the dozen chapters.
Title: Daughters Arise! A Christian Retreat Resource for Girls Approaching Womanhood
Author: Donna Humphreys, Gloria Koll, and Sally Windecker
Summary: Daughters Arise is a guidebook for creating uplifting retreats for girls of all cultures entering womanhood and their mothers or mentors. It uses drama, music, art, movement, ceremony, and story to nourish each participant’s spirit. The retreat activities celebrate what it means to be a girl or woman in contemporary culture and what it means to be a daughter of God. We knew we needed to re-introduce our daughters and ourselves to the authentic gospel of Jesus’ accepting love. “Could our work welcome and support our daughters’ journeys and also reach the women who long to remain in the church or return to it?” write the authors. The guidebook is divided into two parts: Practical information on establishing and planning a four-day retreat; and program resources to enhance a retreat.
Title: More Building Assets Together, 130 Group Activities for Helping Youth Succeed
Author: Rebecca Grothe
Summary: This book features 130 activities that will not only help you teach the power of developmental assets to young people, but build their assets as well! This is a practical resource that offers creative, easy-to-use activities – designed specifically for groups and classrooms—that encourage reflection and interaction between youth and adults. This resource is based on groundbreaking Search Institute research on factors that are vital for the healthy development of all kids.
Title: Soul Tending, Life-Forming Practices for Older Youth and Young Adults
Author: Beverly Burton, Drew Dyson, and Kenda Creasy Dean
Summary: Soul Tending expands on the ideas Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster put forth in The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry and offers a practical way for senior high youth and young adults to study spiritual disciplines while strengthening relationships among participants. The study includes lessons on inward, outward, and corporate disciplines. The goal is that Christ would be formed in each participant. Youth and adults co-journey together as they examine classical and contemporary disciplines, supporting one another, and intentionally seeking encounters with God. Key features include:
- easy-to-use format allows group members to chart their own course through the book.
- 43 sessions give participants plenty of material to choose from for a spiritual life retreat, an occasional session, a seasonal study for Lent or Advent, a short-term option, or a weekly covenant group.
- the role of the leader/facilitator can change each time the group meets.
- a teaching component that can be used as a large group session, or as the basis for discussion in the small group or spiritual life retreat.
Title: Starting Right: Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry
Author: Kenda Creasy Dean, Chap Clark, David Rahn
Year/format/pages: 2001/Hardcover, paperback, Kindle/400
Summary: This book on youth ministry blends solid research with real-life experience. It is an excellent resource for undergraduate or graduate courses in youth ministry or for youth workers who want to ground their ministry in solid theology. It introduces youth ministry students (whether undergraduate or graduate level) to a marriage of solid research, real life, and accessible design. Whereas most college-level texts may reflect a thorough (though impenetrable) mastery of the field, they tend to expect readers to plow through unnecessarily thick prose and bland design because “it’s good for them.” Not in this book. Here college and seminary students are introduced to real-life research, real-life youth ministry dilemmas, and real-life solutions.
Contributing writers represent a spectrum of Christian education thought and practice, as well as widespread recognition in their field; transdenominational, yet the perfect background to ministry in any denomination or ministry organization. This text includes thorough indexes, design, and graphics; organization that permits use of any part of the text, in any order. It gives students a rich, academic, and readable (though not “popular”) grasp of every aspect of youth ministry.
Title: So What Am I Gonna Do with My Life? Leaders Guide: Finding and Following God’s Calling in Your Vocation
Author: Diane Lindsey Reeves
Year/format/pages: 2001/Paperback/80 (Leaders Guide), 64 (Student Workbook)
Summary: What do I want to do when I graduate? What do I want to do with my life? What kind of job am I cut out for? Does God even care about what I do for a living? Life is just plain uncertain for high school-aged youth, especially when it comes to The Great Beyond—beyond graduation, that is. Along with senioritis comes much worry about the future—or much waiting for a lightning bolt to strike them, which they just know will make everything clear. Help your students wake up and smell the hope! The four complete teaching sessions in So What Am I Gonna Do with My Life? Leader’s Guide will help your kids find and follow God’s calling in their vocations. The sessions include attention-grabbers and role models from Scripture, small and large group activities, discussion starters and tools for practical application, after hours events that give students a chance to explore a range of options, especially with the help of adults in the church.
Title: Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church
Author: Mark H. Senter III, Wesley Black, Chap Clark, and Malan Nel
Summary: Join the conversation as experts propose, defend, and explore Four Views of Youth Ministry and the Church. In a dialog that often gets downright feisty, four youth ministry academicians (i.e., the authors) delineate their distinct philosophical and ecclesiological views regarding how youth ministry relates to the church at large—and leave a taste of what’s profound and what’s not.
In Four View of Your Ministry and the Church, solid academic writing and an inviting tone and design create a compelling text for both in-the-field, practicing youth workers and undergraduates and graduate students.
Title: Making Disciples Mentor’s Guide
Author: William H. Willimon
Summary: Making Disciples pairs youth with adult mentors and guides them through a variety of learning experiences that will strengthen the student’s understanding of the faith while connecting him or her with the community of believers in a personal way. Topics covered include: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Worship, The Bible, Saints and Gifts, Ministry, Baptism, Spiritual Life, Death and Resurrection, Life in the Church, and The Faith Journey Continues.
Title: Teamwork and Teamplay
Author: Jim Cain and Barry Joliff
Summary: This book is a guide to cooperative, challenge and adventure activities that build confidence, cooperation, teamwork, creativity, trust, decision making, conflict resolution, resource management, communication, effective feedback and problem solving skills.
Title: Cowstails and Cobras 2: A Guide to Games, Initiatives, Ropes Courses & Adventure
Author: Karl Rohnke
Summary: This book provides teachers and recreation professionals with a guide to activities and curriculum. The learning goals are: (1) increasing the participant’s personal confidence; (2) increasing mutual support within a group; (3) improving agility and physical coordination; (4) increasing joy in one’s physical self and in being with others; and (5) developing familiarity and identification with the natural world. Section 1 examines leadership issues in adventure programming (group formation, selecting appropriate activities, group dynamics, and debriefing the group); discusses warming up and learning to fall; and provides complete directions for numerous games, initiative problems (group problem-solving activities), and ropes course elements. Section Two describes how specific institutions came to develop their exemplary adventure programs and presents their curriculum outlines. See http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED356919