There are a TON of great student ministry books out there. There are old standards and new offerings. There are those that cover trends and those that are timeless. There is a ton of quality content to be consumed.

There are also several that would serve your ministry better as a coaster, but that’s the subject of a different blog (which I will never write).

Of all the great content I’ve read over my seventeen years serving students, here are three I come back to again and again, don’t lend out (so I won’t be without my copy) but highly recommend (because everyone should read them!).

Chances are if you are among the student ministry tribe, you’ve at least heard of these books. But if you haven’t read them, may this blog put you over the edge to ordering your own copy, like, yesterday.

Seriously…get on it.




Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker by April Diaz

This book, like it’s author, is petite but not to be underestimated. April Diaz writes with the experience of a decade and a half of ministry on her side. This book is an exercise in bold imagination. What if student ministry was viewed as something larger than what many define it as being? Would our ministries be more effective? Would our churches be healthier? Would our practice be more biblical?

I went nut-so over this book and think it is one of the most underrated titles in our profession. So if you haven’t read it, read it. And if you have, read it again. We’ve all got work to do, and it’s heavy lifting.




Youth Ministry 3.0 by Mark Oestreicher

What, did you think Marko wasn’t going to make the list? A lifer as grizzled as the beard he sports, and with an intellect that suits his normally unkempt appearance quite nicely, Mark Oestreicher did us all a tremendous solid when he wrote this book. The overall response has been somewhat slow in terms of putting these ideas into practice, but those urges you’ve been feeling lately about the direction of your ministry are likely addressed in this book from 2008, which is equal parts prophetic and practical.

If I taught a class on youth ministry, it would be required reading…and students would be required to read it twice.




Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries

Written in 1994, this fantastic book has been expanded and updated over the years and likely will be again. This book is timeless, recognizing far before it was cool to do so that youth ministry is best done in the context of the whole church and, more precisely, in the home. In some ways this is Re-defing the Role of the Youth Worker thirty years before Diaz wrote her more digestible version of similar thoughts.

DeVries takes his training and applies it in innovative ways, suggesting things like a representative of the church visits every home to help parents chart a course for the spiritual development of their child. While planning another Wednesday night may be easier, this book challenges us to think about personal, intrusive, challenging ways to raise up families to disciple their students. Read (and apply) at your own risk.

There are a ton of other great reads out there (I’d love for you to share your faves), but if I taught a student ministry class, those three books would be required reading. And, I suspect, if I taught a class in fifty years, they still would be.

Titus Benton is a student pastor in Katy, Texas at Current — A Christian Church. He also runs a nonprofit and does some writing on the side (probably closer to the coaster variety mentioned above). 

One thought on “3 Books I’ve Read More Than Once in 17 Years of Student Ministry

  1. I’ve only read 2 of those…but they are great books! I would also recommend Mark DeVries’ other books: Sustainable Youth Ministry and The Indispensable Youth Pastor.

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