I always find it really useful when other people involved in youth work or Christian ministry are able to point me in the direction of good material so I’ve decided to return the favour by compiling a list of books which I have found useful in my ministry and as a Christian generally.
Books are in alphabetical order by title.
Christian Youthwork by Mark Ashton & Phil Moon. Updated by Jonathan Carswell.
A book which bears the slogan “The definitive book on Christian Youth Work” is probably worth a look, especially as that isn’t a comment of the authors but of Ian Fry, Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry Training at Oak Hill College (conservative evangelical vicar factory for those not in the know). The late Mark Ashton was highly respected and a solid Bible teacher at St. Andrew’s the Great in Cambridge, whilst Phil Moon is considered a bit of a youth work guru. Seriously a cracking book. Get it, read it, put it into practice and then read it again once a year to make sure you’re still on track.
Come With Me Through Isaiah by David Pawson
Pawson’s commentary on Isaiah is made up of studies that were originally preached to a church congregation. It’s a very easy read and really brings to life a book that is so big that it can sometimes just seem overwhelming. Some fascinating insights, especially that the book of Isaiah itself is basically the Bible in miniature and can be split into two halves which accurately portray the Old and New Testament. If you’ve ever wanted to get stuck into Isaiah but have been too daunted, this book is definitely a good place to start.
Dig Deeper: Tools To Unearth The Bible’s Treasure by Nigel Beynon & Andrew Sach
Dig Deeper contains 17 Bible tools to help you get the most out of your Bible. Tools include Author’s Purpose, Context, Linking Words, Structure and more. Each chapter contains short examples, a worked example and an exercise for you to work through. It’s great for both leaders and young people and makes opening up your Bible an exciting prospect every time.
Distinctives by Vaughan Roberts
A great book for teenagers challenging them about how to live out their faith distinctively in a world that really just wants them to conform. A slim volume makes it a good choice to give to young people to read themselves, although it also lends itself to being the basis for a teaching series.
One2One Books 1&2 by Andrew Cornes
Two books both containing 24 studies which can be used for One2One bible reading partnerships. Book 1 covers John, Philippians and the Psalms whilst Book 2 covers Matthew, 1 Thessalonians and Genesis. Each study consists of questions to get partners thinking through the passage before meeting up for discussion ideally weekly or fortnightly.
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
Quite frankly the one book that everyone working in Christian ministry should have on their shelf after the Bible. Not exactly bed time reading but a fantasticly in-depth source of information on almost any doctrine you can imagine. Essential reference material that covers almost any doctrine or issue you’re likely to come across.
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer was a German priest who was imprisoned in a German concentration camp during the second world war. Tragically he was executed only a few weeks before the war ended. In this book Bonhoeffer shares his thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount and it’s call to discipleship. He also critiques what he calls “cheap grace” and calls for “costly grace.” The chapters can be long and heavy going but it’s one of the few Christian books I can honestly say is mindblowing in what it says. It will completely change your view of your faith.
The Cost of the Disconnect: The Discipleship Crisis and the Global Ramifications of an Impotent Church by Dirk Helmling
A challenging and convicting book about the failure of the American church to create real disciples of Christ. Dirk shows how we have focused on the benefits of knowing Christ and neglected to emphasise the radical cost of discipleship that Jesus speaks of in the gospels. The result is a weakened and impoverished church. This book will challenge you to think about how you do your youth work and about whether you are really making disciples of your young people. Every church leader needs to hear this stuff.
The Message of Revelation by Michael Wilcock
The Bible Speaks Today series are generally brilliant and I would recommend anything in that series. Michael Wilcock has lectured on my training course that the church sends me on and it’s been a real privilege to have him open up Chronicles and Psalms to us. His BST commentaries on those are also excellent. This commentary on Revelation sheds some much needed light on one of the most obscure books of the bible and does it’s best to make sense of much of the imagery, although Wilcock is not afraid to hold his hands up and admit that there are many things we just don’t understand. The commentary left me very clearly thinking that Revelation charts the whole of history from Christ’s first to second coming.
The Story of the Book by Terence Copley
A very readable book answering 51 questions about the Bible under the six headings of: how did the Bible come together into one book?, who wrote the Bible?, whose Bible is it anyway?, how did the Bible reach us?, how was the Bible translated? and how is the Bible read? If you or any of your young people are asking these then this is the place to start and it’s not academic or dry in any way.