Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry: A Practical Guide



About Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry

Dodgeball and abstinence training just aren’t enough.

There’s only one thing that has the potential to bring lasting change to students’ lives: the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this guidebook for youth ministry leaders, a host of experienced youth workers lay out a vision for the gospel as the center of every facet of ministry to young people. Offering practical guidance related to teaching, implementing small groups, interacting with parents, leading mission trips, building community, and more, each chapter equips youth leaders to effectively address students’ hearts and see God work in and through their lives.

Part of The Gospel Coalition series.


Cameron Cole (MA, Wake Forest University) serves as director of youth ministries at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama, and is the chairman of Rooted, a ministry dedicated to fostering gospel-centered student ministry.

Jon Nielson (MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) serves as ministry director for Christian Union at Princeton University. Previously, he served as the college pastor at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and as the director of training for the Charles Simeon Trust. He and his wife, Jeanne, have three daughters.


“Few of us take a trip without some kind of GPS device at our side. We need help navigating the route, the traffic, and the current road conditions, all in an effort to reach our final destination. In humble, authentic and truth-tested ways, Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry provides that level of clarity to those who are passionate about engaging, connecting, and discipling young people within the reach of their calling. With advice anchored in the timeless truth of God’s Word, Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry delivers light to the unlit roads of working with young people. It underscores the priority of this mission, while amplifying the impact that an effective student ministry can have within a church community. Filled with wisdom, light, hope, and guidance, the contributors point to a clear objective—making lifelong followers of Jesus the Christ.”
Dan Wolgemuth, President/CEO, Youth for Christ

“This book is both theologically insightful and practical . . . and a book about youth ministry must be both. This is a commendable resource for youth pastors, volunteers, students in training, and search teams looking for a youth pastor.”
Jay S. Thomas, Lead Pastor, Chapel Hill Bible Church, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

“We see the lamentable statistics about younger people walking away from the church, despite every attempt over the last couple of generations either to turn up the cool factor or to fight the culture wars—or both. The contributors point to a better way. They have tested his gospel-centered approach and honed and refined it along the way. This book is not only a wake-up call, it is a practical guide for ministry to our younger brothers and sisters. I’ll be recommending this book far and wide.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story

“You are holding a very helpful, straight-to-the-point examination of the fundamental how-to’s in youth ministry. Covered here are the key areas of successful Christian youth leadership. Broad in scope but sharp in focus, this book will clearly help anyone who strives to have a ministry built on gold rather than straw.”
Ken Moser, Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry, Briercrest College and Seminary; author, Changing the World through Effective Youth Ministry

“The contributors to this volume have reflected deeply on the nature and power of the gospel. Drawing from their years of experience, they have given us theologically rich and practical reflections on youth ministry that aim to exalt Christ, strengthen the whole church, and equip teenagers for ministry.”
Mary Willson , Associate Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition    

“Gospel-centered youth ministry is the need of the hour. It’s rare to find a book that brings together expertise on everything from evangelism to small groups, from mission trips to social justice, but Cameron Cole and Jon Nielson have given us the perfect primer. I’m grateful for this book and look forward to putting it in front of my students!”
Alvin L. Reid, Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, As You Go: Creating a Missional Culture of Gospel-Centered Students

“Here are 14 chapters written by 14 practitioners each with his or her own personality, writing style, and insight. Yet there is one focus—Jesus. For these writers, youth ministry is not only about teaching the teachings of Jesus, although that is important. Youth ministry is about making disciples—life-long learners personally following and growing in Jesus. These chapters are heart-felt and teen sensitive, with a profound respect for the gospel. That, plus a lot of practical insight make this a book worth having in your youth ministry library.”
Terry Dittmer, National Director of Youth Ministry for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry is a substantial step in the right direction toward faithful discipleship of students. Not only should anyone in full time, part-time, or volunteer youth ministry purchase this book, but pastors and parents need to pick up a copy as well. Your church will be blessed by it.”
John Perritt, Youth Director, Pear Orchard Presbyterian Church, Ridgeland, Mississippi; author, Your Days Are Numbered

“Cameron Cole and Jon Nielson provide a clear vision of holistic ministry, encouraging and challenging readers to integrate the gospel as the center of their ministry with youth.”
Brian H. Cosby, Pastor, Wayside Presbyterian Church, Chattanooga, Tennessee; author, Giving Up Gimmicks: Reclaiming Youth Ministry from an Entertainment Culture

Table of Contents

Part 1: Foundations for a Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry

  1. The Gospel at the Heart of All Things: Youth Ministry Founded in the Gospel
    Cameron Cole
  2. Making Disciples Who Make Disciples: Discipleship in Youth Ministry
    Darren DePaul
  3. The Impact of Expounding God’s Word: Expositional Teaching in Youth Ministry
    Eric McKiddie
  4. Emulating God’s Heart: Building Relationships in Youth Ministry
    Liz Edrington
  5. Community Based on the Gospel: Building Community in Youth Ministry
    Mark Howard
  6. Building a Foundation with the Parents: Partnering with Parents in Youth Ministry
    Mike McGarry
  7. Gathering God’s People: Generational Integration in Youth Ministry
    Dave Wright

Part 2: Practical Applications for a Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry

  1. Helping Students Personally Engage the Bible: Small-Group Bible Study in Youth Ministry
    Jon Nielson
  2. Equipping Youth for Gospel Ministry: Leadership Training in Youth Ministry
    Jon Nielson
  3. Singing That Flows from the Gospel: Music in Youth Ministry
    Tom Olson
  4. Interrupting the Regular Routine:
    Retreats and Events in Youth Ministry
    Jason Draper

Part 3: The Fruit of a Gospel-Centered Youth Ministry

  1. A Public Faith: Evangelism in Youth Ministry
    David Plant
  2. Bearing Gospel Fruit among the Poor: Serving the Poor in Youth Ministry
    Philip Walkley and Drew Haltom
  3. Going in a Fruitful Manner: International Short-Term Mission Trips in Youth Ministry
    Elisabeth Elliott


Category: Children & Youth
Church Ministry
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 224
ISBN-10: 1-4335-4695-7
ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-4695-2
Size: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Weight: 9.75 ounces
Published: February 29, 2016

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