My top 5 list for youth workers

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

relationships unfiltered

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


3 thoughts on “My top 5 list for youth workers

  1. My top five (also in no particular order) would be: (and I must say I purchased Relationships Unfiltered last week, but have not read it yet)
    Contemplative Youth Ministry Mark Yaconelli
    Downtime Mark Yaconelli
    Presence-Centered Youth Ministry Mike King
    Hurt by Chap Clark
    OK, that’s only four. But I’m not in the office today. I can’t look at my books.

    Great list as well. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great list. Not sure if a New-Kind of Youth Ministry would make my top five or not. Can’t decide between Root’s two books. For volunteers I’d say Unfiltered, and for professionals I hope they’d read Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry.

    Haven’t read King’s book, but I’ve been seeing it all over the pace lately. Guess I should read that one, too. For sure I’d include Jones and Root. Maybe Contemplative Youth Ministry by Yaconelli. YM 3.0 is also a maybe for me. I’ll have to go peruse my bookshelves and see what else floats my boat.

    Great top 4. Yaconellis’s one is way up there for me as well. It was a toss up between that and King’s. My complete list of recommended books is on the blog as well. Hard to narrow it down to 5

  3. My new top book of all time for youth ministry has to be Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries. It is so practical – not since Duffy Robbin’s Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts has anyone actually grappled so thoroughly with what actually makes for youth ministry that works and goes the distance (and in some ways combines what Duffy did with his two others books as well: Youth Ministry That Works and Ministry of Nurture. I have posted a number of blogs about the book if you’d to take a look:

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