As I meet new youth workers in my area, I am often asked the question “What books or resources do you recommend?” My thoughts have changed over the years, but having read most youth ministry books out there, I have come to some decisions. Granted, every youth worker is different and so is every context . These are the five books I would recommend a new youth worker read and, in fact, I have given this list to my former interns who are now in full-time youth ministry.
(There are other non Youth Ministry books I highly recommend as far as theology, personal and spiritual development, church ministry, etc…, but this list is primarily about progressive and innovative youth ministry ideas, philosophies, and content that I have personally found to be the most helpful and inspirational in my situation)
I have posted a page on my blog with a more complete list of recommended books, but I chose to keep this list limited to five so not to overwhelm someone. All of the books are fairly short and easy reads, and my advise is to read one book a month and really digest it. After six months, you should have a good understanding of new models and thoughts for an every-changing youth ministry)
Each book speaks into different aspects of youth ministry including relational approaches, spiritual development, philosophical/theological perspectives, cultural/worldview changes and implications, and new ministry models. I have written some reviews of these, which you can find by searching the blog, and intend to have a review written on each book shortly.
In no particular order:
A New Kind of Youth Ministry– Chris Folmsbee
An excellent book about re-culturing forms and structure of traditional youth ministry models such as evangelism, disciple ship, leadership, missions, etc..
“A New Kind of Youth Ministry should be the handbook for a generation of forward-thinking youth workers.” – Tony Jones
Youth Ministry 3.0– Mark Oestreicher
Marko realizes that the way we have been doing things is already not working. This book looks back historical to the major shifts in youth ministry while attempting to create a third way- new approach in ministering contextually and cross-culturally to new generations of students.
“This book will inspire, equip, and challenge you with an extremely thoughtful and realistic approach to youth ministry for the 3.0 orbs we find ourselves in.” -Chris Folmsbee
Postmodern Youth Ministry- Tony Jones
Probably the first book published that researched the effects of postmodernity on students and attempted to re-think what youth ministry needed to look like. Eight years after publication, it is still probably the best book out there on the issues and countless people are finding encouragement as they realize the inevitable influence on postmodernity in their own contexts.
Presence-Centered Youth Ministry- Mike King
This book sets the bar for creating a theological and historical foundation for God’s presence in youth ministry. The book shows how classic disciplines, symbols, and practices can shape the worldviews, virtues, and habits of young people today. “If Brother Lawrence had been a youth pastor, this book would have been his favorite resource.” – Kendra Dean
Relationships Unfiltered– Andrew Root
Andrew Root challenges youth workers to reconsider our motives for relational youth ministry and begin to consider simply being with and dong life alongside teenagers with no agenda other than to love them right where they are, by place sharing. “Relationships Unfiltered is the single most important youth ministry book in a generation. ” -Tony Jones