Top 12 “Must Reads” for Young Life Staff

I tweeted yesterday that Chapter 5 of Lean In has entered my list of must read chapters for Young Life staff. At some point I may take the time to make that list of must read chapters but that would take some work. For now I will list the 12 books off the top of my head that I think all YL staff should read.  In no particular order. (Hard to limit to 12)

As soon as I hit publish I am going to think of a different book. I already can’t believe I don’t have a book by Daniel Pink or Henry Cloud or NT Wright or Richard Rohr, and I am thinking that maybe Lean In should make the top 12.

Okay I am hitting publish!

The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. Our walk with Christ and our ministry should be about transformation and not just transaction.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. We need to learn to have a healthy detachment from our ministry (production) and the gospel is the answer to that challenge.

Small is the New Big by Seth Godin. This is kind of cheating because really I think we should be reading Seth Godin’s blog everyday and this is a collection of his blog posts. He inspires to think differently about everything and to be truly remarkable.

A Community Called Atonement by Scot McKnight. Readable book on the all important topic of atonement which is more than just penal substitution but many are only exposed to this one atonement metaphor.

The Answer to How is Yes by Peter Block. Brilliant book about asking the right questions which helps start the process of refusing to be a victim.

Hurt by Chap Clark. My experience with adolescents bears out all of Chap’s findings in this book but he puts it in words and with data that I couldn’t do on my own.

Tattoos on the Heart by Father Greg Boyle. Inspiring story of what loving without an agenda looks like. (We think we are better at this than we may actually be)

In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen. How to lead out of a place of our primary identity being God’s beloved.

Onward by Howard Schulz. Howard Schulz’ memoirs about leading Starbucks has some shocking similarities to Young Life including, but not limited to, the ‘carcinogen that growth at all costs became.’

Disunity in Christ by Christena Cleveland Whether it is this or another book we must read something that allows us to face questions about how we relate to the world based on our race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and able bodiedness.

The Non Profit Narrative by Dan Portnoy. Practical and applicable book on story telling.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Once again one of many choices but a very good one on the power and I would add necessity of vulnerability in our life, ministry and leadership.


* I am bothered by the fact that every book but one  on this list is written by a white person and 10 of 13  authors are males. I am working to remedy my selection of reading being primarily white male authors.

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