One of the most profound books that I read over the past five years is The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman. This book is not just a book for understanding your spouse (which I didn’t even have at the time of reading) but I believe understanding the love languages will transform how you minister to students, and your whole family. This is a must read for everyone and it has changed how I view my students as a teacher and as a youth director.

The whole premise of the book is the idea that each person has a primary and secondary love language. It is through that type of love that our “love tank” get filled. Each person is different and gives and receives love differently.

There are five love languages that the book talks about. Acts of service, Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch (platonic touching, not necessarily sexual) , Gift Giving, and Quality Time. Often the way that you give love the best is also the way that you recieve love the best, however that is not always the case. There are several online tests that you can take to help you figure out your love language, but I do recommend you read the book because it details each of the love languages, how to best understand them, and how to best incorporate those into your day to day life.

You may be wondering how this goes beyond your spouse – well I believe that the more we understand how our students give and receive love, the better we are able to minister to them in a way that they feel as though they truly are loved. So many of our students come from broken homes or unhealthy relationships when all they have ever learned is put up your walls and protect yourself. We can help break down those walls by learning first how they love, and filling their love tanks. We can then help them learn how to best love others regardless of their love languages.

For me it changed how I taught my students, it changed how I ministered to my students, and it helped me to better individualize my ministry to help connect in a deeper way with my students. To me it was revolutionary!

Jana Snyder is a youth pastor and a good friend who blogs at

You are a performer. Every day, you rise to the occasion and give a performance. It is built into every presentation, interaction and talk you give. And this book will guide you to success in that new realization. I really enjoyed the quick read The Encore Effect by Mark Sanborn (author of The Fred Factor). It reminded me of the size of a Patrick Lencioni book and the insights of a Seth Godin masterpiece. Together, it makes for a powerful combination to process and challenge your thinking. Lots of quick applications for youth ministry – you are always on stage with parents, your talks can sink or swim and practice makes a world of difference which of those happen. Here’s the 5 main sections in the book:

Passion: The fuel for remarkable performance
Prepare: How remarkable performance begins
Practice: It won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better
Perform: How to engage your audience
Polish: Making your performance shine

Good stuff!


This fall our whole team read through Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone – a book that focuses on relationships, networking and giving/receiving an infinite supply of gifts and favors to help you be successful in life. The book was specifically written from a person in the entertainment industry but can easily be translated to a church setting. I found the chapter on conferences the most helpful – I happened to be reading it on my way to a conference so put a ton of it into practice. Keith is a master networker, and dances on the thin line of using people to get where he wants to go. I think he would fully dispute that charge, suggesting that we are all symbiotic to each other, and he would just as quickly cash in a favor for someone else as he would expect it to be done for him. Good stuff to get you thinking about where you’re going in your career and how other people are the key to the journey as well as the destination. Might give you a fresh perspective on relational ministry, too. A


Just finished up What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. It was a really interesting read – helping unpack the Google way of doing business and transferring those game-changing principles to your world. I enjoyed it a lot, the first two thirds more than the ending act I have to admit. In the main section of the book Jeff teaches us how to be more Googly, sharing principles of how to build business through relationships, how (and why we must) hear and respond to our customers and tons of other great insights about the new work ethic and new speed of business: instantaneous. The illustrations are fantastic and deepen his points throughout. Then he changes pace and begins to apply its own principles to various industries – some were a total hit and interesting, some not much honestly. Of course, I was wishing he had done a chapter on churches or non-profits than I would be singing a different song. All in all a very helpful book that I enjoyed reading and translating internally to youth ministry and the church. B+


I found out while I was reading 10 Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing that the author Geoff Surrat, was coming on staff at Saddleback the next week. If what he’s written is any indication of who we’re getting, I’m super excited. Taking a swift turn from his thought-leading Multi-site church books, Geoff takes on the common mistakes church leaders make in an effort to serve the church. Right out of the gate, he had me with his “the pastor has to do everything” trap – and I fondly recalling taking on everything and in the end everything suffering. Lots of great stories, mistakes and failures punctuate the points on how to be effective in ministry. I could have lived without the cartoons and layout, but the book is solid nonetheless. Welcome aboard, Geoff, we need you more than you know!


Fun special event RIGHT NOW exclusively here on MTDB!

You can win one of 25 copies of Mark Batterson’s new book, Soul Print: Discovering Your Divine Destiny. All you have to do is be one of the first 25 people to leave a comment on this post with at least your email address in it. Multnomah Books will use your email address to get your address and send you a free advance copy of the book – well in advance no less, it doesn’t come out until January 18th, 2011. Enter now and instantly win!

In Soulprint, Mark pours the contagious energy he’s known for into helping you experience the joy of discovering who you are and the freedom of discovering who you’re not. The wonderful fact is that your uniqueness is God’s gift to you–and it’s also your gift to God.

A “self-help” book that puts God at the center rather than self, Soulprint encourages you to recognize and explore the moments of your life that determine your future. Along the way, you’ll find that you’re not just turning the pages of a book. You’re turning the pages of your remarkable, God-shaped, world-changing life.

UPDATE: It took just 26 seconds from the time I posted this and Twittered it for them all to go! Holy smokes – and thanks to everyone who stopped by!


Congratulations to the winners of the Almighty Bible Contest last week – you left comments to win and 3 of you just did! Congrats to the following comments:

18. Greg Rhodes, 31. Jerry Varner, 78. Tpitty

Your Almighty Bible will be shipped this week!


This week during HSM’s end of year meeting I encouraged my team to be better at conflict. Being the people-pleasing giant that I am … it doesn’t come naturally to me either. I’m OK with letting some things go or not saying the last 10% in an effort to make peace and keep friendships. The challenge is to rethink how avoiding conflict doesn’t help – in fact actually it hurts relationships. Here’s why a little dose of conflict might be good in our youth ministry culture:

Conflict allows people to grow
Observations and constructive criticism left unsaid is a missed opportunity for someone to grow. When you avoid conflict you marginalize someone’s growth and cap their leadership. Say the tough things so they keep getting better and as a team you become more effective. Not saying it is selfish, especially if it is done to preserve your position or status.

Conflict kills the undercurrent of negativity
The worst part about avoiding the tough conversations is that you’re still going to have the easy conversations with someone else about that person. Too much avoiding people and addressing problems leads to isolation, dysfunction and eventually loss. Keep the team happy in the long run by having a few painful days among the way. The long view of health will push you to push for it on a daily basis.

Conflict follows Jesus example
Jesus wasn’t afraid of conflict. Neither was Paul, Peter and other leaders of the early church. Conflict makes sure we stay on task, onboard with the vision and forces us to truly love and care for each other and the church.

It is never easy … when it is you’re probably broken. But it is a necessary part of leadership.