5 Youth Ministry Books You Haven't Read Yet...
5. The Adolescent Journey by Amy Jacober
Jacober is a great youth worker and practical theologian. In The Adolescent Journey, Jacober pushes youth workers to understand the practical theological dimentions of their work with adolescents, interpreting the experience of adolescence through a theological lens so that youth ministry can participate with what God is doing in the lives of young people. It's a great introduction to practical theology for youth workers and a critical theorization of adolescence. If you're interested in thinking theologically about youth ministry, you should know that this book exists.
4. Saying is Believing by Amanda Hontz Drury
When I saw that Amanda Hontz Drury's research was being published for popular consumption, I just assumed that everyone would get it and read it. Drury is really one of the best theological minds in Youth Ministry right now, but I am amazed at how few of the people I know in Youth Ministry seem to know about her work. Saying is Believing, which just came out this year, examines the ways in which encouraging and helping young people to articulate their experience of God--to "testify"--helps them in their spiritual development. As such, this is also is a wonderful contribution to the endeavor to awaken the church to the voices of its young people... and you should know about it.
3. Woo: Awakening Teenagers' Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus by Morgan Schmidt
Morgan Schmidt is truly one of the up-and-coming thinkers in Youth Ministry and her book Woo showcases this fact. Woo reads like a manifesto on Youth Ministry and, to me, represents a new standard for what beginners in the practice of Youth Ministry ought to be thinking about. It's sorta like 'Kenda Dean light' meets 'Andy Root light,' and in no way do I mean that pejoratively. She holds the same high regard for the voices of young people and their potential to change the church that Dean holds while she also shows us how to 'place-share' the way Root wants us to, with those young people who don't feel like they have a voice... but Schmidt goes down a lot more smoothly for the novice reader. There's something in here for every youth worker, and you should have heard of it by now.
2. Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry by Fernando Arzola Jr.
Toward a Prophetic Youth Ministry was perhaps the first book that encouraged me to believe that Youth Ministry could be theological. The book prescribes a paradigm shift away from "traditional youth ministry," away from "liberal youth ministry," away from "activist" youth ministry, and toward "prophetic" youth ministry. It's a call toward a holistic ministry, grounded in a holistic theological anthropology, which starts from the ministry of Christ rather than from any narrow agenda. This book has been around a while now... and you should know about it.
1. Amplifying Our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities by Benjamin T. Conner
I hope you have heard of this one. This is one of my new favorite Youth Ministry books! And It's got to be my new favorite "missional theology" book too! Drawing from the best minds in practical theology and missional theology (including Richard Osmer, Andrew Root, John Swinton, and Darrell Guder), Ben Conner takes a huge step toward the construction of a theological rationale that can actually include those who are not subject to "development" or to the "normal" expectations which adults often have for young people. By grounding his approach in disability, Conner avoids the pitfalls of normative anthropologies that reduce humanity and personhood to a set of "capacities" and "roles." Thus, Conner points the way forward for Youth Ministry as ministry and not just as "development" and "religious socialization." This is a good book and you should have read it by now.
Don't get me wrong. Just because I'm endorsing these books here doesn't mean that each of them don't have their own problems (and some have more than others). I just think these books have within them the beginnings of some conversations we should be having in Youth Ministry... and it'd be a shame for us to miss out on those conversations.