I went back to the $2 Book Fair this week to score some more cheap books to read this summer. While I was there picking up awesome ministry and business books, I stumbled on this gem from Dilbert creator Scott Adams. The Joy of Work is another masterpiece in his business-leadership book series (read my review of The Dilbert Principle here). The whole thing is written half-serious which means he can really shine some light on how people work around a typical office. The larger your church the more you’ll appreciate many of his insights on organizations and corporate scenarios, but everyone will appreciate and laugh out loud at chapters on office pranks, surviving meetings and managing your co-workers.

Lots of fun reader emails and cartoons throughout, too. Loved it.


I realize I’m a little late to the party on reading this circa-2001 New York Times best-seller, but I’ve been a Drudge Report fan since just after it came out in the late 90’s. If you aren’t on Drudge Report every day, you’re missing the news. Matt came to power back in the days of dial-up and was at the forefront of this emerging idea that everyone was a journalist. He broke the news on Monica Lewinsky way back in a day, and has continually challenged the ideas that TV and print media had set in stone. If you’re a fan, the book is great – offering you insight and a behind the scenes look at new journalism. If you’re not, the book may read a little incomprehensibly at times and will only be somewhat entertaining. So it was perfect for me.

Here’s a big universal takeaway for all: Matt (and others) blazed a trail giving everyone a voice. You have a voice. Start a website, a blog or a Tumblr and jump in. A-


Thriving at College by Alex Chediak is decent guide to prepare for college. It consists of four parts including college, relational, character, and academic tips each giving us a Godly perspective on how to approach these areas in college. One thing I did enjoy about the book was the constant link that education has to God, whether the student attends a secular or Christian college. We try hard in school because our efforts can either be glorifying to God or not, we invest in good friendships in hope that they can be glorifying to God, and we respect our professors and faculty in hopes that our attitude can glorify God. This book just keeps a constant focus on the fact that we should be doing everything in the Lord’s name, including school. Overall the book is a little lengthy and I did skip some parts including some of the parent to college student relationship, professor to student relationship, and school efforts sections. However, there is some great advice in there on mature and healthy friendships, thinking about marriage, and education as a way of glorifying God.

(this review was written by Sarah, a just-graduated senior from HSM who I asked to read the book)

I was at a “everything is $2″ bookstore recently and stumbled on a book I couldn’t pass up – The Dilbert Principle by Scott Adams. Dilbert has long been one of my favorite comic strips, probably because of my connection to his world through my business degree. Everyone can relate though, because we’re all to familiar with bosses, org charts, and where we rank in them. The best chapters (which are each filled with comics, too) are on teamwork and management. So funny and painful. Amidst the sarcasm and humor comes a few really tangible potential learnings that may surprise you. By making fun of what leaders to, he begins to point us all toward better leadership that cares and our people and our products. All in all this old book (first published in 1997) made for some fun and highly-entertaining reading the past couple of weeks.


I just finished up Onward by Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks. It was a gift (read: required reading) from my boss Kurt Johnston. Of course, it wasn’t a chore – I’ve been wanting to pick up the book after seeing it recently and am fascinated by how “it” companies like Apple and Starbucks work on the inside. The book was full of incredible insights with tons of youth ministry applications – but let me tell you right out of the gate that it is about 100 pages too long. The amount of detail is staggering, and quite honestly gives you an appreciation for the capacity of Howard Schultz. Here are a a few of the key things that stood out to me:

  • Howard took incredible risks. Some paid off, others totally bombed. When was my last risk?
  • People are what matter most. Period.
  • Howard took his time building an incredible team. Success is never solo.
  • One evening every Starbucks in the nation was closed for training. How much do I value training?
  • Over time, Starbucks changed reporting their “comps” to focus on other measurements. Am I looking at the right numbers?
  • Starbucks rebirth was guided by 7 principles. What are mine? What is guiding me?

Lots of good stuff. Great book.


The schedule of summer for me means way more relational time with students – and it also means I finally get through the stack of books that I’ve been meaning to get to all year. Here’s the 5 books I’m hoping to tackle the next couple of months.

Onward – this book was given to me by Kurt Johnston and I’m starting it first. Excited to read about Starbucks recovery several years ago. Fascinated with them already, excited to get an inside look at how they work/think.

The Indispensable Youth Pastor – Aside from Onward, this is the book I’m most excited about on the list. Looks like Mark Devries has put together another winner.

Launching Missional Communities – This resource was sent to me by the authors late this past fall, and I like it because it sounds so outside of my normal thinking.

Teenology – This is one of Jim Burns latest books on raising teenagers. He just spoke recently at our church, and it reminded me to make sure to read this since I work with kids, and it won’t be too long before we have a teen of our own around the house. Wild!

The Volunteer’s Field Guide to Youth Ministry – I’m looking at this as a potential resource for our incoming volunteers this fall. Not sure if it’ll be something we use, but want to check it out this summer.

What’s on your summer reading list?


Was just randomly looking through books and tools that might help HSM in our next season and landed on a few that I’m interested in and/or look promising for some situations I’m facing that you may soon, too. Here’s a few items I’m excited about checking out:

If you’re stuck trying to figure out the work of youth ministrymaybe check out Duffy Robbin’s recently expanded and updated book Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts.

Youth ministry veteran and bestselling author, Duffy Robbins, offers an updated and revised edition of his book about the important, behind-the-scenes mechaincs of youth ministry. The tasks of budgeting, decision-making, time management, team ministry, staff relationships, conflict resolution, working with parents, and a range of other issues, are the things that keep a ministry together and functioning well. Nobody gets into youth ministry because they want to think about these things; but a lot of people get out of youth ministry because they didn’t think about them. All youth workers– whether paid or volunteer, full-time or part-time– will find Youth Ministry Nuts and Bolts to be a thoughtful, fun, practical guide to youth ministry administration.

If you’re stuck on how to help parents get more engaged in raising their students I love Walt Mueller’s stuff and 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers looks like a cheap/simple resource to get into their hands quickly.

If you’re the parent of a teenager, you need all the help you can get. How do you help your children make wise choices? How do you give your teenagers freedom to make their own choices while still providing a guiding hand? How do you invest your time and energy in ways that make an eternal difference in your children’s lives? Walt Mueller delivers the goods in 99 Thoughts for Parents of Teenagers, a no-holds-barred look at the good, bad, and ugly aspects of parenting teenagers. Drawing on his experience as a parent of four children who have passed through their teenage years, Walt shares wisdom, thoughts, insights, and suggestions for making the teenage years count.

If you’re stuck trying to communicate to students the same way … maybe you need to think about using some video curriculum for a while. What if you could bring in Doug Fields, Francis Chan and Max Lucado? I think this video teaching series from BlueFish looks awesome.

If you’re stuck trying to figure out teaching teenagers at all I can’t recommend Doug Fields’ and Duffy Robbins’ book Speaking to Teenagers. A gamer-changer in helping you learn to be a better communicator:

Get ready for a crash course in effective communication. More than just a book on how to “do talks,” Speaking to Teenagers combines the experience and wisdom of two veteran youth ministry speakers, along with insightful research and practical tools, to help you develop messages that engage students with the love of Christ and the power of his Word. Whether you’re crafting a five-minute devotional or a 30-minute sermon, Speaking to Teenagers is essential to understanding and preparing great messages. Together, Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins show you how they craft their own messages and give you the tools to do it yourself. They’ll guide you, step-by-step, through the process of preparing and delivering meaningful messages that effectively communicate to your students.

If you’re stuck in a creative rut … maybe Les Christie can help. The book Awaken Your Creativity shows a ton of promise for helping you get unstuck from doing the same old thing.

You know how tough it can be to come up with new and inventive student ministry ideas every school year. It can be infinitely more grueling to be that creative on a weekly basis! Whether you’re developing a new message, a unique way to get students talking and interacting, or something different for the weekend retreat, most of us find ourselves tapped for creative ideas after a little while. Take comfort: You’re not alone, and you’re not necessarily out of creative steam. Everyone hits a block at some point, but you can find a way to tap into the creativity God placed within you. Les Christie has been doing youth ministry for decades, and he’s not out of ideas yet! This practical book will help you explore the stumbling blocks, the tricks of the trade, and the catalysts to creativity.


Thoroughly enjoying Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff. I’ve been a fan of his writing for a while, although originally dismissing his blog since it was an obvious knockoff of Stuff White People Like. That aside, Jon manages to take some fun and largely overdue shots at the Christian subculture that are welcome and highly entertaining. If you’ve never read “Treating Youth Ministers Like Silver Medal Ministers” or “The Mandatory Youth Minister Goatee“, you should immediately. The book is largely a collection of his blog posts so if you’re a fan you’ll love it for sure (and if not be sure to check out his blog here). Good, entertaining read making fun of us. Love it.