Are you looking for a great book to gift a youth pastor? Here are my 10 favorite books to give to someone who loves youth ministry (in random order):
1. The Jesus-Centered Bible
The Jesus-Centered Bible will show how central Jesus is to the core message of God’s Word in a new and fresh way. Blue lettering shows over 600 Old Testament passages that point to Jesus, helping us understand so much better that Jesus really is at the center of the Gospel. While the NLT isn’t my favorite translation, the features more than make up for it, making this Bible a great personal study tool for any youth leader. Price range: just under $20.
2. Galatians for You
I love this new series of personal Bible study books by Tim Keller. So far, he’s written Galatians for You, Romans 1-7 and Judges. These books give rich commentary on each chapter (longer chapters are divided into multiple segments) that help you grasp the core message of the chapter and the entire book. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection. I’ve studied the book of Galatians in detail with this book and man, I learned so much. Keller’s tone is never condescending and his passion for the Gospel shines through. This is an awesome tool for personal Bible study, although you certainly learn tons to use in youth ministry lessons and talks as well. Price range: paperbacks just over $10, hardbacks just under $20.
3. The Jesus Gap
Jen Bradbury has done us all a great service in showing clearly how teens really think about Jesus. The Jesus Gap shows clearly how many misunderstandings there are about Jesus, the contradictions in teens’ beliefs about Him and how we can help them get a clear picture of Jesus. Hugely important for anyone desiring to put Jesus front and center in youth ministry. Read my longer review here. Price range: under $20.
4. Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World Bundle
If you want to help a youth pastor get a crystal clear picture of what youth ministry looks like in a post-Christian culture, the Youth Ministry in a Post-Christian World bundle from The Youth Cartel will be a tremendous help. Brock Morgan explains postmodernism and post-Christianity and shows broad principles of doing youth ministry in this culture. Jake Kircher talks about teaching and how you can (should) adapt your methods to better fit a post-Christian audience. And the third book in the bundle is my own book Storify, which explores how you can reach a post-Christian audience with the Gospel most effectively. It’s a pretty sweet deal for these three books together! Price range: $35.
I haven’t met a youth leader who isn’t busy. Simplify is a powerful challenge to focus our lives on what matters most, and cut the clutter. Bill Hybels, well-known pastor of Willow Creek, shows how we can simplify different aspects of our lives, ranging from our calendar to our finances. Youth pastors can learn tons from his advice, that he shares with great humility. Price range: just over $10.
6. I am a Slut
I know, pretty rude title. But I am not a Slut is an eyeopener for anyone working with teenage girls. The book paints a heart-breaking picture of the slut-shaming culture teenage girls are subject to and how they try so hard to navigate this. It’s not Christian book, so expect some rough language, as teens are interviewed and quoted directly. Here’s my review of the book if you want to read more about it, but I definitely recommend it, especially for those working with unchurched girls. Price range: under $15.
7. Masterminds and Wingmen
Another non-Christian book, but another eye opener as well. Masterminds and Wingmen book should be required reading for anyone working with teenage boys. It was written by the same author who wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes (the movie Mean Girls was based on this book), where she explores girl culture. The book portrays boy culture in all its glory…and all its weaknesses. The author shows how boys interact with each other, what role they play in groups, and what motivates them to do things, stupid stuff for instance. While the book is aimed at parents with tons of discussions tips for instance, youth leaders can learn so much here. Price range: just over $10.
8. Made to Stick
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Made to Stick explains why some messages are easy to remember for people (they ‘stick’) and others aren’t. This is a great help when crafting our own messages, ranging from simple announcement to sermon-type messages. I learned so much from this book and I keep using the principles outlined here. I’ve reviewed this book as well. Price range: just over $15.
9. Thriving Youth Groups
If you’re looking for a practical how-to book on youth ministry, Thriving Youth Groups is a great example. Veteran youth worker Jeanne Mayo shows the principles that encourage growth in youth ministry and gives many practical examples of how to apply this to your youth group. Here’s a longer review of the book. Price range: under $15.
10 Building a Discipling Culture
For a fresh and inspiring perspective on small groups, Building a Discipling Culture is a phenomenal red. It’s not specifically aimed at youth ministry, but of course the powerful principles author Mike Breen shares are easily applicable to youth small groups. It has completely changed my views on small groups, as I explained in the review I wrote on this book on the DYM blog. Price range: $20.
That’s it! 10 great ideas for books to give to youth pastors and youth leaders.
Any more gift ideas you’d like to add?