8 Hit Youth Ministry Books For Your 2021 Reading List

Tim Balow
January 18th, 2021

2020 is wrapped up and we are already ahead to 2021, but we wanted to give the postlude to some of our great featured book resources that are the most talked about youth ministry resources around youth ministry world and in the YS bookstore. Certainly there were more than 8, but 8 sounds like a good place to start.

Here we go through some of the best and most talked-about resources in 2021:

Alongside: Loving Teenagers With The Gospel

Alongside is a much-needed resource for both parents and those in youth ministry. In this transformative book, Drew Hill unpacks the challenges teenagers face and how youth leaders and parents can share the gospel with them at this crucial age.

Full of practical and biblical insights, Alongside is an invitation to love teenagers with the hope of the gospel.

When Relationships Matter: Making Your Church A Place Where Kids & Teenagers Belong

In When Relationships Matter explains a shift that has been happening in the discipleship strategy of effective churches over the past decade. The three values and nine practices in When Relationships Matter will help you rethink and improve your small group strategy.

With best practices, training tips, and real-life stories from ministry leaders across the country, this book has what you need to create and improve an effective small group culture in your church.

The Space Between Us: How Jesus Teaches Us To Live Together When Religion and Politics Pulls Us Apart

Tension in our personal relationships are at an all-time high. Dialogue-when it happens at all-is heated. It isn’t that we’ve lost hope in what faith and politics can accomplish in our world. It’s that in our polarizing times, faith and politics seem to be leading more to rage than actual change. 

It’s discouraging, disheartening, and disappointing. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. Civility is not a pipe dream. Nuance is not unrecoverable. Peace is possible. And it can all start right here, right now, with us.

Growing With

As parents, we often feel the gap between us and our kids widening when they become teenagers and young adults. Maybe it’s just that they’re growing up. But we fear that gap is a symptom that we’re growing apart.

Filled with brand-new research and real-life stories from remarkable familiesGrowing With shows you how to close the family gap, giving parents courage to take the next faithful step on a mutual journey of intentional growth that trusts God to transform you all.

Discover strategies to help you invite doubt, rather than avoid it. Growing With will show you how to help your kids keep their roots, even as they spread their wings.

Sticky Faith Innovation

This book is for every youth leader who knows that change is part of youth ministry. It’s for adults and mentors whose hearts both sing and break over young people. And it is for courageous pastors who will do whatever it takes to faithfully serve their teenagers.

Building on over a dozen years of research and working intensively with cohorts of more than 50 youth ministries and 100 youth leaders, Sticky Faith Innovation will guide you time and time again as you propel your compassion, creativity, and courage toward cultivating a youth ministry that can respond to the changing needs of your young people.

Youth Ministry In This Season Of Disruption

Choose your word for these times we’re in: unprecedented, weird, challenging, exhausting. Each of them is true, of course. And youth workers everywhere are struggling to figure things out, wrestling with calling and expectations, experimenting and learning and holding onto hope.This book dives headfirst into that space with you, bringing the voices (and thinking) of 28 unique youth ministry practitioners–consider them as your own little band of partners.

This book doesn’t have all the answers. But it’s a snapshot from the brilliant and resourceful tribe of youth workers that you’re a part of. Between the lines, we hope you’ll get a sense of God’s Spirit whispering: Don’t give up; you can do it!

Disrupting Teens With Joy

As youth workers, we want to help the teens in our ministries experience the love of God in lasting, life-altering ways. But despite our best efforts, that often doesn’t seem to happen. In an overscheduled, achievement-focused culture, it’s easy for our teens—and for adults—to get swept up in life’s pace, resigned to believing that fleeting moments of circumstantial happiness are probably as good as it gets. What are we missing?

Dave Rahn and Ebonie Davis believe what’s missing is joy—joy that’s not tethered to circumstance, but that grows out of long-term, meaningful relationships with Jesus and others. This optimistic and challenging book also identifies habits that, if adopted, lead to lives rich in the durable joy we, and our teens, long for.

The End Of Youth Ministry?

What is youth ministry actually for? And does it have a future? Andrew Root, a leading scholar in youth ministry and practical theology, went on a one-year journey to answer these questions.

Informed by interviews that Root conducted with parents, this book explores how parents’ perspectives of what constitutes a good life are affecting youth ministry. In today’s culture, youth ministry can’t compete with sports, test prep, and the myriad other activities in which young people participate. Through a unique parable-style story, Root offers a new way to think about the purpose of youth ministry: not happiness, but joy. For youth ministry to be about joy, it must move beyond the youth group model and rework the assumptions of how identity and happiness are imagined by parents in American society.

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2021? What ideas will capture your imagination as we look forward to a new chapter of ministry, personal life, and the world around us? Books have powerful capacity to inspire and ignite…if we let them.

Tim Balow

Youth Specialties exists to elevate the role of youth ministry and the youth worker to grow the faith of the next generation.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.