Rooted Book Awards 2020: Best New Youth Ministry Books


Well, one thing we can say for 2020: it was a good year for reading! Lockdown and quarantine provided us ample time to work through that stack on our desk or bedside table, and of course there were some new ones to add to the mix. Here are the best new gospel-centered resources for youth pastors from 2020.

Best New Youth Ministry Book

The End of Youth Ministry? Why Parents Don’t Really Care about Youth Groups and What Youth Workers Should Do about It by Andrew Root

In our pick for best new youth ministry book, Dr. Andrew Root taps into the struggle that many youth ministers are experiencing but have not necessarily had the words to express. He identifies dynamics in parenting and in families that are making youth ministry participation less of a priority than it used to be. He responds to those dynamics with helpful applications of the theology of the cross. One of Rooted’s five pillars of gospel-centered youth ministry is partnering with parents; Root’s book will go a long way towards helping youth ministers understand the choices parents face, and how they are making decisions for their families.

Veteran Rooted writers Cameron Cole and Tucker Fleming offer praise as well as some constructive critique in their reviews for Modern Reformation and TGC respectively, and you will want to listen to them interview Dr. Root on the Rooted podcast.

Fleming writes: “Root has given youth ministers an illuminating look into how and why parents and students prioritize the things they do. He’s made challenging concepts simple, and he’s done Christ’s church a great service in writing this book. It should be on the nightstand of every late-modern youth minister as they seek to minister to students and equip parents to spiritually invest in their children.”

Altogether, we found The End of Youth Ministry? the most helpful and compelling new youth ministry book of 2020.


That being said, there are some other very helpful resources youth ministers will want to check out:

Small Group Leader’s Quick Guide to (Almost) Everything by Syler Thomas and Steven Tighe is a new Rooted favorite. This engaging, highly practical guide will be useful for youth ministers trying to lead their own small groups as well as train small group leaders. Check out our review here, and our podcast with author Syler Thomas here.

Growing Together: Taking Mentoring Beyond Small Talk and Prayer Requests by Melissa B. Kruger. While not strictly speaking a youth ministry book, this guide will be helpful for female youth ministers working with the girls in their care and will also be a useful recommendation for women who volunteer with your youth ministry. Rather than a how-to for mentoring, this book is designed to “use during the mentoring relationship… to promote life-giving discussions on a variety of topics that foster and encourage one another’s faith.” Kruger’s passion for mentoring was born out of her relationship with a high school youth leader named Tracy, who encouraged her faith and helped her develop biblical wisdom over shared sandwiches and youth ski trips. In the pages of this book, youth ministers will develop a biblical theology of mentoring and discover numerous practical helps such as discussion questions and a robust bibliography for further reading and study. One of Rooted’s five pillars of youth ministry is relational discipleship; this book is home-run caliber help for women with a mentoring ministry.

Building Bridges: Biblical Counseling Activities for Children and Teens by Julie Lowe. This is a fantastic resource for youth ministers, one that you will want to recommend to parents as well. As a veteran counselor, Lowe reaches out to help people who disciple teens but are not themselves trained counselors. She instructs her audience in how to “be an expert on the young person in front of you,” how to ask good questions, how to glean information from parents that will help you mentor your students, and how to evaluate developmental stages and social dynamics to understand the needs of youth. Lowe provides methods and specific activities for drawing out children and teens. Her explanations are detailed: she offers objectives, practices, and suggested modifications, all with an eye to age-appropriate adjustments. Above all, however, Lowe wants adults to connect young people with the truth that they are beloved image-bearers whose redemption and identity are eternally secure in Christ. What young people need, Lowe writes, is for adults to find “winsome ways to point them to the Lord.” This book helps us do exactly that.

Lead by Paul David Tripp. A follow-up to Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling, which explores the trials and temptations pastors frequently face, Lead addresses the church leadership that supports pastors. Suggesting that perhaps sometimes pastors fail in part because the leaders who surround them let them down, Tripp writes, “… if the primary driving force of leadership in local churches around the world was the gospel of Jesus Christ, many of the sad things we have seen happen in the lives of leaders and their churches would not have happened.” With this in mind, Tripp outlines twelve principles for a leadership community that is driven solely by the gospel. Achievement, gospel, limits, balance, character, war, servants, candor, identity, restoration, longevity, and presence are all considered in depth, with the gospel of grace blanketing every principle. Though the subject matter is somewhat difficult, Tripp’s deep love for lay leaders and vocational ministers allows him to say the confrontational, convicting truth with the gentle spirit of Christ. A helpful read for any church leader in any capacity.


Head on over to the parent side of the blog to check out our best new parenting books for 2020.


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