Best Youth Ministry Books Read in 2010

The Best Books of 2010

In the spirit of reflecting on 2010, ‘best of’ lists, and looking forward, I thought I’d showcase 5 lists over this next week. The first four lists wills showcase the best books I read in 2010 (regardless of actual publishing date) in categories of leadership, youth ministry, ministry, and general. The last list will detail the books I’m most excited to read in 2011.

List #2: The Best Books I Read (Regardless of Publishing Date) of 2010

Youth Ministry

1. Generation IY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future (Tim Elmore)
Let me start off by saying I STRONGLY DISLIKE the second part of this title. I’m not a fan of sensationalism (our LAST chance to save their future…blah blah scare scare sensationalize). Whatever the case, for those who work in youth ministry, this is an extremely important look into the generation born after 1990 (which obviously are all those we work with in youth ministry).

This is the most valuable addition to my youth ministry library this year. It is an insightful look into those we love and care for as youth ministry leaders, and Elmore provides not just the despairing look, but practical ways to pull them out of the crippling world they are growing up into. If you are a youth ministry leader, please read this book! You won’t regret it…

2. The Next Christians: The Good News About the End of Christian America (Gabe Lyons)
This book entered 2010 with a lot of hype. Lyons is the author of UnChristian, which for better or worse, has dramatically influenced pastors across the country (I can’t tell you how many times this book as been referenced in sermons or conferences I’ve attended). In his follow-up, he presents a more optimistic look at what the future holds for those who call themselves Christian.

Why is this in the Youth Ministry category? Simple. The youth we lead are the “next” Christians (or at least are generally being lead by the “next” Christians). The next Christians are restorers – they don’t want to become cultural relativists and don’t want to disengage with the world. They want to restore the world right where they are. And frankly, this needs to be a dominant message of youth ministry. Sometimes our youth ministry worlds can become escapist-type places for youth and other times they can look just like the culture with very little about Jesus Christ. Instead, our youth ministries need to be about cultural engagement and restoration.

3. Reinventing Youth Ministry (Again): From Bells and Whistles to Flesh and Blood (Wayne Rice)
I loved this book for a simple reason — it humbled me. I realized there have been people who have been doing what the best youth ministries do since the 1960s. Wayne Rice is a pioneer and an early adopter. What we think is profound and unique today has already been done by Rice. It was helpful to read his story with youth ministry and Youth Specialties. Let’s be honest: Us youth ministry leaders can become stinkin’ arrogant. Rice reminds you he has been there done that — way before we ever did. Read this book and learn from a master.

4. Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn’t Last and What Your Church Can Do About It (Mark DeVries)
Youth pastors garner a lot of flack for not sustaining in their jobs and usually leave jobs within 18 months (turns out, this data isn’t entirely accurate). Whatever the case, it is true that while some of us are great at building a fast-paced and growing youth ministry, not many of us are great a building sustainable and long-lasting youth ministries. This is a book that encourages you to look past your time at the helm and build a youth ministry beyond the 3-5 years you’ll likely be leading it.

I’d encourage you to hand this book to other pastors and leaders in your church. Building a sustainable youth ministry means the whole team must be involved.

Honorable Mention:
* Relationships Unfiltered by Andrew Root
(The only reason this didn’t make it on the main list is because I’ve read it 4 times)
* Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry by Andrew Root
(Ditto – This book especially is a MUST read. I don’t agree with it all, but it’s still a must read for all youth pastors)
* Practicing Passion by Kenda Creasy Dean
(A bit too theologically complex for my liking, but still worth digging through)
* Middle School Ministry by Mark Oestreicher and Scott Rubin
(A comprehensive look at all things middle school ministry by some experts)
* OMG edited by Kenda Creasy Dean
(Honestly, a bit tired and clearly a packaged book to sell copies. Even if most of the information wasn’t new, it is still worth the read)

A Final Note:
* Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
You may be surprised that this isn’t on my list. Well, it’s not for two reasons. One, I didn’t actually read the whole thing. Mainly because I read article after article and review after review on this book, I felt like I read it. Second, because it is basically a rehashing of Soul Searching by Christian Smith. And honestly, I’m just a fan of extreme generalizations based on surveys.

What were the best books you read on youth ministry in 2010?


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