The Top Ten: December 2016


Happy New Year! Thanks for exploring the Rooted Top Ten with us throughout 2016. This month marks the one year anniversary of our Top Ten list, and we hope it has born insight, relief, and more of the saving message of the gospel in your life leading and caring for teens.

If you’re new to Rooted’s Top Ten, what follows is a list representing ten articles (from a range of websites and sources) that we believe will encourage and equip you to continue in your ministry to students and their families. If you have an article you’d like to share, please include it as a link in the comment section below.

These are presented by category, not in order of which we deem most valuable.

Top 5 Articles from 2016’s Lists

4 Obstacles to Your Students’ Spiritual Growth by Andy Blanks (YM360)

“There are entire seminary courses, volumes of books, and even ministry organizations dedicated to the “what can you do about it” answer to this question. So, this space is not much use to us for providing solutions. But, I will say this: you have to know the problem you are dealing with if you are going to begin to solve it. Make it your mission to know the home situation of all your students.”

What Youth Leaders Wish Parents Knew by Jordan Standridge (The Cripplegate)

The youth leaders also have a difficult responsibility; they want to influence students while also respecting parents and their leadership. Sometimes he or she must tell the children to do things or think things that are different than what their parents believe, and this causes great stress and difficulty for the leaders. Here are some things that most youth leaders wished parents knew and believed before ever dropping their children off for youth group.

3 Reasons You Should Give the Gospel in Every Sermon by Greg Stier (Dare2Share)

“Giving the Gospel in every sermon may seem like a no-brainer to some preachers and a ‘Whaaaaat?’ to others but I am convinced it’s beyond crucial.”

The Secret to Asking Students Great Questions by Tarynn Seeman (LeaderTreks)

“While it’s important to train adult leaders in the specific second-level questions they can be asking students (for example, How would you describe your relationship with your parents? What are your fears about the future? What are you struggling with in your walk with God?), it’s more valuable to develop the character of the adults in our ministries. By only training on specific questions, we risk communicating to our adult leaders that there is a golden question or a ten-step process that will guarantee them success in every conversation.”

Top 10 Findings on Teens and the Bible (Barna Research Group)

“The 2016 Teen State of the Bible research, commissioned by American Bible Society and conducted by Barna, examines teens’ perceptions of the Bible, the role they believe it should play in American public life and their level of personal engagement with it. The research tells us that teens have a deep respect for the Bible and care about its relevance to the world in which they inhabit.”

Integrating Students in the Church

Meet the ‘Growing Young’ Heroes Every Church Loves and Needs by Brad Griffin (Fuller Youth Institute)

The heroes who show up tirelessly to mentor, teach, lead, and love young people. We know this small-but-mighty tribe of world-changers seldom receive special titles or accolades for their hard work. … The stories you submitted sparked tears, smiles, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude among the FYI team. You told us about real people in real churches who are engaging the next generation with passion and commitment.

Youth Culture

The #1 Songs of 2016: What Impact Did They Make on Young Listeners? by David R. Smith & Jonathan McKee (Youth Culture Window)

Today’s music dictates so much about young people’s lives. It affects fashion, relationships, politics, emotions, self-perceptions, and much more. In a sense, music is becoming “influence with a beat.” And if today’s music impacts a young person’s values, morals, or practices, what will that mean for their future?

Finding Affinity: Lauryn Hill, Hip Hop, and Bridging Divides in Youth Ministry by Tamara Henry (Princeton Institute of Youth Ministry)

Music, no matter the genre, is a way of contextualizing learning experiences and allowing students to become more deliberately attuned to the range of realities taking place in our world, including those realities that tend to be denied or overlooked. For example, hip-hop as one form of music emerges out of the context of marginalized black and brown youth constituencies who use music as a way of igniting resistance to the moral and social ills plaguing their community.

Ministry Skills

How Youth Workers Can Earn Respect: Part One & Part Two by Mike McGarry & Andy Lawrenson (LeaderTreks)

Whether you serve in a church or another ministry, many of us have developed a low-grade inferiority complex. Personally, I don’t like referring to ministry as a “professional” vocation, but here are a few things I’ve learned over the years about how you can earn the respect of parents and other adults in your church or ministry.

10 New Year’s Resolutions for Youth Workers by Mike King (Youth Specialties)

One of the issues that drives me crazy when I look at the state of youth ministry today is the over emphasis on pragmatism. I believe youth ministry is a deeply theological endeavor. As an Adjunct Professor of youth ministry at Nazarene Theological Seminary, I tend to spend very little time on practical issues. … However, I always take one class to depart from the more heady content to focus on some very practical things I’ve learned during my 41 years of youth ministry. Although, I’ve never made a New Year’s Resolution, some of the following issues may be worth adding to your list for the New Year if you’re into that.

Rooted’s Two Most-Read Articles of December

Gilmore Girls and the Gospel by Todd Hill (Rooted)

I would actually suggest that Gilmore Girls was a trailblazer in television that presents characters and their lives as messy and imperfect. In the past, TV shows tended to portray their protagonists as heroes – individuals who were completely put together – people we all aspired to be like. But Lorelai and Rorey Gilmore welcome us into their broken, flawed relationships and we watch and marvel, “They are just like me!” (except they talk much faster and are far wittier).

Hope this Helps: The Best Commentaries for Every Book of the Bible by Cameron Cole (Rooted)

At times, when you are preparing to study a book of the Bible, you may visit your local library or scroll through Amazon, looking for the best commentary. It’s hard to know, surrounded by so many options, what is theologically sound and what is nonsense. I have found this website, offered by Ligonier Ministries, to be valuable in identifying helpful commentaries. The site lists several commentaries for each book of the Bible.

In Case You Missed It (Rooted’s December Honorable Mention)

The Balance Between Authenticity and TMI in Youth Ministry by Kendal Conner (Rooted)

This authenticity is what millennials most desire within their closest communities. And it is this ideology that we are passing along to the coming generation, our students’ generation. With the rise of social media platforms that now allow them to stay in constant contact with the world, our students only know a world where privacy is scarce and authenticity is always expected.

Yet, as our generation has worked to impress the value of true authenticity, we as student leaders and parents have found ourselves in a dilemma. How do we balance modeling authenticity and TMI with our students?



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