We all know books are a great resource. The problem is finding time to read all the great books. This week we offer a small glimpse through one minister’s eyes of….

“Top 10 influential books in your ministry”


Ginny Richardson serves as the Pastor for Youth and Children at Vienna Baptist Church in Vienna, Virginia (about 20 miles outside DC). She is a Richmond, Virginia native and a graduate of Christopher Newport University and McAfee School of Theology. Ginny enjoys learning with the students she ministers and seeing them embrace their gifts and passions to serve God and love others. Her hobbies include exploring new places and museums, hanging out with friends and family, watching college sports, and spending time outdoors.

While they are not in “top ten” order, these are ten books that I’ve pulled off my bookshelf lately to use or reference as a youth minister:

1. Clark, Francis E. 2015. The Personality of Jesus: How to Introduce Young People to Jesus Christ and Help Them Grow in Their Faith. Edited by Ashley Denton. Fort Collins, CO: Smooth Stone Publishing.
a. You can use this book with your youth or as the basis for discussion with your youth leaders or parents. Clark’s original book, Christ and the Young People, was one of the first youth ministry books ever written (published in 1916). There are already discussion questions for each chapter! 95 pages.

2. Csinos, David M., and Melvin Bray, eds. 2013. Faith Forward: A Dialogue on Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity. Kelowna, BC, Canada: CopperHouse.
a. This book is chock-full of wonderful essays from several different leaders in ministry with children and youth to help us reimagine what ministry with these ages can look like in the 21st century. 287 pages.

3. Dean, Kenda Creasy, and Ron Foster. 1998. The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry. Nashville, TN: Upper Room Books.
a. I cling to the image of being a “Godbearer” to youth when I am overwhelmed by roles and expectations as a youth minister. 210 pages.

4. Hayden, Joshua. 2010. Sacred Hope. Kansas City, MO: Barefoot Ministries.
a. My youth recently asked if we could discuss heaven and hell in our Sunday School class. This book addresses their deeper questions of “How does God offer hope for our lives?” and “How is heaven both in the future and here right now?” 88 pages.

5. MacBeth, Sybil. 2007. Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press.
a. The invitation to pray through coloring offers my students and me a way to keep praying when there just are not words. There’s also a children’s version if you minister with children too! 103 pages.

6. Nouwen, Henri J.M. 1992. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World, 2nd ed. New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
a. Nouwen explains that the spiritual life is simply this: “You are the Beloved.” When we know ourselves as loved by God, we can then live into the call to become who we are: bread for the world. 156 pages.

7. Novelli, Michael. 2013. Shaped by the Story: Discover the Art of Bible Storying, 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: Sparkhouse Press.
a. Novelli’s book is all about how you can use Bible storying in your ministry. I am just starting to implement what I learned in this book with my students, and it is such an exciting adventure! 175 pages.

8. Palmer, Parker J. 2000. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
a. This great book can serve as your foundation when talking with high school seniors or college students about finding what they are called to do, whether in college, or beyond. 114 pages.

9. Thurman, Howard. 1996. Jesus and the Disinherited, 2nd ed. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.
a. Thurman’s book has helped guide our discussions on current events and how Jesus relates with the oppressed. 112 pages.

10. Tune, Romal. 2013. God’s Graffiti: Inspiring Stories for Teens. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press.
a. Romal Tune helps students relate to several biblical characters who had messy lives, but a beauty and a deeper story can be found within the mess. As we already see in our youth as youth ministers, Tune reminds our youth that they already can do great things! 151 pages.