We periodically share with you books we believe have helped us minister to children, teens and their families more effectively. Not all of the books are Christian, because we believe God has shared His wisdom in a variety of ways. Our website has a list of our classics in ministry reading, but we wanted to share with you some of the books we are currently reading that aren’t on our other lists.
These books aren’t necessarily new, but they reflect areas in which we are currently doing more research. Some of the books we may have shared with you, but we haven’t added them to our permanent resource list yet. Either way, we believe you may also find information in these books thought provoking or helpful in some way.
- Encountering Jesus in the Real World of the Gospels by Cyndi Parker. Parker has written one of my new favorites. I stumbled across this new book in a seminar I took and it is a jewel for Bible class teachers. Parker introduces readers to the cultures of the Bible, not to change someone’s theology, but rather to deepen the understanding of scripture. For example, did you know it would have been the end of the dry season when Jesus said “He who is thirsty’? At that point in the year, everyone would have been thirsty!
- Between Two Worlds by Elizabeth Marquardt. Ostensibly Christian, this book is primarily secular. The author uses her own experiences, the experiences of others and research to make a case for spending more time enriching marriages and helping children of divorce. Spoiler alert – there is no such thing as a “good divorce” as far as the impact it has on children. She also touches on the impact of the death of a parent and being raised with only one parent.
- Pediatric Chaplaincy by Nash, Bartel and Nash. Suggested to me by a chaplain at a large pediatric hospital as research for my latest book, this book is a great primer for ministering to chronically and critically ill children, their parents and siblings and health care workers. Chaplains aren’t allowed to have a faith bias, but that doesn’t negate a lot of the other helpful information in this book.
- Grasp by Sanjay Sarma. Sarma began the open coursework from MIT you can find online. I’m still working through this one myself, but it has a lot of great information on secular education that could be applied to teaching the Bible.
- The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin. Ms. Grandin is an expert in autism who happens to be on the spectrum herself. Any of her books will provide you with helpful information on autism and how to better engage with students on the spectrum in your ministry. This is not a Christian book per se, so you will have to make the connections from her book to your ministry.
- Rhythms of Renewal by Rebekah Lyons. This is a Christian book that examines the idea of creating a Sabbath type rest in the Christian life. While we are not commanded to have a Sabbath, Jesus and the Apostles modeled a more flexible version in their ministry. Lyons helps readers discern between those things that provide shallow rest and those that provide connection with God and the deep soul rest we all need. (Note: There is a book, workbook and video series. I personally found the videos unnecessary.)
- Tiny Habits by B.J. Fogg. This secular book has a lot of great information to help readers be more successful in starting good habits and breaking bad ones. The method works well and has a lot of ministry applications.
- The Self Esteem Trap by Polly Young Eisendrath. Fair warning, this is not a Christian book and requires filtering out some aspects of it because of that. It does, however, provide some good basic information about countering entitlement in young people. For Christians, I would suggest adding Bible to the principles because ultimately this is a heart issue that must be addressed. The behaviors she suggests added to scripture can help mold a child’s heart in a more godly direction.
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk. This book does a great job explaining how trauma – particularly childhood trauma – impacts the brain. This is a must read for anyone in ministry. It is not a Christian book, but the brain science is crucial for understanding how to minister effectively to children who have experienced trauma.
- Practical Critical Thinking for Grades 9-12 by Catherine Connors-Nelson. This is actually a set that includes a teachers manual and a student workbook (You can buy them separately.). Written for secular classroom use, the activities are easily adapted to a Bible class/ministry setting. This should be a must for every ministry working with older kids and teens as it has broad application for helping students make wise choices in faith, ideas, beliefs and behaviors.
There are more books we are starting to read this summer. As we find more great ones, we will share them with you. These books or ones on our classics list will give you a lot of great reading to enhance your ministry knowledge.