When Kurt and I came up with the idea of sharing a couple books that influenced us the most in ministry my mind immediately thought of a dozen books that have significantly shaped me as a youth worker. Without a doubt I am a better leader, husband, parent and youth pastor because of the influence of incredible men and women who have shared their hearts, learnings and failures with me over the past 15 years.
As for the Top 2 … well, these are the best of the best. If you haven’t read them, I can’t encourage you enough to pick them up and let the authors pour into you like they did me. Here’s the 2 most influential in my life personally, and a list of runners up you may also want to check out:
The Heart of a Pastor — HB London
I remember reading this book while I was serving in my first church. Ministry then was a series of extremes. It was extremely rewarding and I had a front-row seat to life change for the very first time as a pastor. And was extremely challenging and difficult to figure out how to do youth ministry for the first time. If it wasn’t for a grace-filled pastor and elders I would have (and possibly should have) been long gone. I read this book and one particular phrase continued to stand out to me as a stark reminder of my calling: bloom where you are planted. No excuses, no wandering eyes, no wishing you were somewhere else — God has called you HERE so until you hear from Him, act like it. So I did. Fantastic book.
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry — Doug Fields
This book came at another crucial time in my youth ministry experience. My wife and I had actually resigned our youth ministry position and were finishing up the summer out before leaving “to go to seminary” — translation: we wanted out, and this was the nice way of saying goodbye. During our final months I happened to stumble on Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren and eventually this, Doug Fields’ student ministry version of the book. As I devoured the pages, it felt like what he was saying was what I had always felt — even intrinsically know — about how church could be. We went back to our church that summer and God blessed us with 4 more incredible years at that same church we had resigned from, and the student ministry became something really special. This book played an eye-opening role in my journey to become a real youth pastor. An absolute must-read.
First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries
Every Man’s Battle by Stephen Arterburn
Grace Awakening by Charles Swindoll
Bringing Up Boys — James Dobson
Handbook on Counseling Youth — Josh McDowell
What books have shaped you? I’d like to read them next!
This post was written by Josh Griffin and Kurt Johnston and originally appeared as part of Simply Youth Ministry Today free newsletter. Subscribe to SYM Today right here.