Must-have Youth Ministry books

There are five must have books in student ministry for me – they’re the ones I keep buying in bulk and giving to my team and teens.  Each one of them has value in specific ways that for me are critical for adults and students in our student ministry program to be aware of.  Part of it is my own wiring when it comes to student ministry – I’m definitely a purpose driven model kind of guy, although I’m kind of quiet about it.  I’ve found ways to make it fit our existing ministry statements and goals that I inherited here – although, I have to admit, it was pretty easy to do so since the ministry was already following a similar model.  Anyway, here are the books that I keep buying and encouraging people to read:

Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry, by Doug Fields.  This book is the one stop guide to youth ministry; he covers all the bases, talks about philosophy of student ministry, the how-tos, and great solid advice.  It’s really well written, easy to read and great for twenty year veterans, and rookies on their first day.  I’ve read it multiple times over the years – and am working through it again now.

Emergency Response Handbook for Youth Ministry.  While I have some bigger, more involved books for my own reference, this pocket size edition is a must for volunteers.  It covers various situations and scenarios that can arise in teens’ lives and gives solid advice for how to respond.  Topics covered include grief, depression, suicide, addictions, divorce, abuse, crisis pregnancy, academic problems, family conflict, stress and anxiety, destructive behavior and gender identity and sexual choices.  My favorite thing to hear when a volunteer calls me about a situation they’ve encountered – and if you work with teens, you will encounter these – is them referring to the advice they read in the book and followed.  Awesome.  That’s why I give a copy to every volunteer.

Hope and Healing for kids who cut, by Marv Penner.  I’ve read a lot of books on cutting, self injury, etc., and this one is far and away the best.  Penner knows his stuff and it shows in this well written book.  He has obviously done his research, but has a pastoral side to the book that makes for a perfect combo.  While I don’t give this to every volunteer, I have a pile of copies kicking around because is an issue that is prevalent and leaders love having access to the book.

Help! I’m a Student Leader, by Doug Fields.  This is written for teens that are leaders in the group.  It’s full of leadership advice, tips on being a servant, and full of great training for students who have leadership roles.  We’re currently working our way through it with our Joshua Team, a group of students in 8th-12th grade that serve as student leaders.

The Youthworker Book of Hope, edited by Tim Baker.  Okay, this is just a shameless plug.  I was one of twelve authors that wrote this book!  We each tackled different areas in ministry that we had experienced failure and wrote about what we learned from it and where we found hope.  I might be biased, but I think it’s a great resource for finding encouragement, hope, and motivation to push through difficult times that we all are bound to experience in youth ministry.

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