If you’ve been in youth ministry long enough, chances are you’ve been to a conference in which multiple speakers listed off books that “all youth ministers must read.” Most of these are very great spiritual books that lead us to be holier people so we can lead others to deeper holiness.
I recently asked some youth ministers what books they’ve read that have helped them most in their ministry. Here are a few of the responses:
Wild at Heart – John Eldredge
Soul of the Apostolate – Dom Chautard
Soul Searching – Christian Smith
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry – Doug Fields
Dangerous Wonder – Michael Yaconelli
The Holy Bible – God
All of these are great books, especially the last one. The author really knows His stuff. I hear it’s pretty popular, and if you need a starting place, that’s probably the best one to go to. But, let me offer you three more unconventional books that can still make a huge impact on you personally and in your ministry:
Good To Great – Jim Collins
If you have ever known anyone who is successful in business, chances are they have read this book. Now, you might say, “Why do I need to read a business book? I’m in ministry.” That is a valid question, but this book is less about business and more about principles. So, if you want to learn how to take your ministry from good to great, pick up a copy. It’s one of my favorite books of all-time and has completely changed not only the way I work but the way I live.
The Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey
One of the common struggles for youth ministers is finances, not just our parish’s, but also our own. We get torn between our desire to serve and our need to put food on the table, especially for those who are married. The beauty of this book is that it gives you a plan to get your financial house in order. If you want to get out of debt (which I highly recommend), this book will help. If you want to learn about how to save for retirement, this book will help. If you want to learn how to budget, this book will help. The only thing you have to do is follow the steps and stay disciplined.
Quitter – Jon Acuff
Have you ever heard of the website, Stuff Christians Like? It was started by Jon Acuff, who also wrote this outstanding book. Jon calls himself a serial quitter, having had eight jobs in eight years as he searched to find his dream job. While you may wonder, “I love being a Youth Minister, so why should I read a book about quitting.” Perhaps you are a volunteer Youth Minister who struggles with the love of Youth Ministry versus the struggles in your “day job.” Perhaps you know a Core Member who struggles with the same thing. Or, perhaps you need perspective on the tension between the joys of Youth Ministry and the difficulties. Whatever it might be, I highly recommend this book. While it’s not about Youth Ministry, it has given me a new found clarity in the work and ministry that I do, and I truly believe it will do the same for you.
Those are just three books that I highly recommend for any Youth Minister. What about you? What books have you read that have helped you the most in your ministry?