Occasionally I get the chance to recommend a student ministry book to someone seeking what he or she should be reading next.  I had the privilege of serving 3 years as a student minister, so I figured I’d share some of the best books I’ve read, and hear what others think as well.

#1 – Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry – Doug Fields

You’d be hard pressed to find a youth minister who hasn’t read anything by Fields, he’s one of the top student ministry gurus.  In my opinion, this is his best book for the new youth minister; it’ll save you tons of frustrations.

#2 – Fatherless Generation – John Sowers

Though not specifically listed as a youth ministry book, this book is a must read for anyone working with students right now.  Students today have been raised in a predominantly fatherless culture.  As student ministers it’s worth hearing what Sowers has to say about reaching these students

#3 – Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture – Walt Mueller

Connecting with and reaching students is the number one job of a youth pastor.  Reaching out to them and just being there for their students.  In Mueller’s book, he paints a picture of what that looks like in today’s culture.  Why that’s so powerful.  An encouraging read to get back your passion for student ministry.

#4 – Youth Ministry 3.0 – Mark Ostreicher

If your ministry revolves more around the fluff than the stuff, you should probably pick up this book.  Mark does a great job of describing the kind of youth ministry many do, and the kind of youth ministry we really need.  Excellent insights throughout it.

#5 – Generation iY – Tim Elmore

Tim Elmore believes this coming generation is in trouble.  Those born after 1990 are in a new unique class of their own, and Elmore tries to help pastors, teachers, and parents understand how to help these students grow and mature.  His book is excellently researched, and Elmore’s ideas have been taught to college coaches and teachers around the country.

#6 – Sustainable Youth Ministry – Mark DeVries

Due to the massive number of comments and messages I got, I decided to add this book.  Enough people have mentioned it, I would be crazy to not include it on the list.  So based on the advice of a growing number of voices, check it out.

Alright, what did I miss?  What’s the best student ministry book you’ve read, and why?

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9 responses to Youth.

  1. Number 5 sounds pretty interesting. I might check it out!

  2. I’d definitely add “Sustainable Youth Ministry” by Mark Devries. Another that I found interesting was “Reinventing Youth Ministry Again” by Wayne Rice. I thought Youth Ministry 3.0 did a good job describing today’s teens, but I wasn’t sold on the author’s conclusions on dealing with those issues.
    I look forward to reading “Fatherless Generation”. Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Fatherless Generation is really good. Most of it is a plea to mentor young people, it’s written by the guy who started the Mentoring Project out in Portland. It’s really eye opening to the families modern students are being raised in.

  3. I am not in youth work Seth so the only one I am familiar with is #4. The only reason for that is we had a former youth pastor who had the leaders read it, and then wanted to pattern his ministry after it. What he really wanted was a free ride and used this approach as the justification for it. He didn’t want to work or plan. Forgive me if that seems harsh and the wrong representation of it. If it is I apologize and expect you to correct me. 🙂

    • I’ve learned that unfortunately there are some people out there who will pattern ministry not in order to reach people, but in order to make their lives easy. That’s a bummer you guys had to deal with that, Bill. But I can easily see someone who is just wanting to skate by using the book to establish a free ride. I’d say the problem was with the attitude, not the book, but that’s just me 🙂

      Thanks for offering your insights into some of the dangers

  4. Jeremy Congdon 01/20/2012 at 2:33 PM

    Sustainable Youth Ministry is one of the best ones I’ve read in the last 2 1/2 years. It’s great for youth ministers, volunteers, senior ministers, elders, leadership team, worship guys, moms…you get my drift 😉

    • Jeremy, due to you, Kevin, and several others recommendations… Sustainable Youth Ministry has officially been added at number 6… Thanks for the recommendation.

  5. Better safe than sued: how to keep your students and ministry alive