Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry

Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry: From Jesus-Plus to Jesus-Only—There’s a surging hunger among teenagers for Jesus. New research shows that they want a clearer understanding of what Jesus really said and did, and how faith in him matters in their lives. In fact, that desire is so deep, it’s #1 on their “wish list” for what they’d like to talk about at church. But are we doing that? Even though we assume that everything we do in youth ministry is about Jesus, the evidence is clear: That’s not what our students say they’re experiencing. So what would a youth ministry look like if it shifted toward a passionate, persistent, and permeating focus on drawing students into a closer orbit around Jesus?


“Yes, yes, yes! I want to be invested in the kind of youth ministry that Rick writes about, where the only thing that matters in my heart and on my schedule is being thoroughly attached to Jesus and helping kids establish this same life-defining connection. If all I did for the next 10 years was pass along this book to hungry youth leaders I would have a fruitful decade.”

Dave Rahn, Senior Vice President and Chief Ministry Officer for Youth For Christ, and director of the MA program in youth ministry leadership at Huntington University

“My college students have read and reread this book so often that their copies have worn covers. That’s a potent indicator of a book that is meaningful. Rick Lawrence has captured the essence of why we get involved in youth ministry in the first place— to faithfully follow Jesus and help others to do the same. I am excited for this update of one of youth ministry’s best books.”

Terry Linhart, chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Bethel College, Indiana

“JCYM is an emboldening wakeup call to youth ministries and churches to root deeply into the raw and powerful person of Jesus Christ. Drawing from a vast resource of personal experience and honest reflection, as well as the sharp insights of several leading voices in youth ministry today, Rick Lawrence reminds us that the best ministry techniques are ineffective without the centrality of Jesus. Anyone who cares about transferring faith and leadership to the next generations needs to learn from the metaphors, the practices, and the simple truths of this important book.”

Ken Castor, D.Min., Assistant Professor of Youth Ministry, Crown College

“A classic that re-pivoted youth ministry eight years ago promises to continue its explosive revolution in this totally rewritten and unleashed release. Rick Lawrence yokes a solid biblical focus to theological sophistication which is then distilled into simple truths and creative apps that show what happens when Jesus is in first place—all of life falls into place and no youth any longer need feel misplaced, displaced, or out of place.”

Leonard Sweet, bestselling author, professor at Drew University and George Fox University, and chief contributor to

“I cannot exaggerate the importance of Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry. It will be required reading for every class I teach in youth ministry. Its message clearly is at the heart of what the Spirit presently is revealing to youth leaders—for the glory of God.”

—Richard Ross, PhD, professor of student ministry, Southwestern Seminary.

“This book is the youth ministry equivalent of Vince Lombardi’s famous locker room back-to-the-basics speech, where he reintroduced his players to ‘a football.’ With insightful theological framing, Rick invites youth workers to start with what really matters—not a bad idea given the dearth of theological thoughtfulness that seems to exist at the frontlines youth ministry these days. And just for the record—it’s amazing how practical a book can be when it is anchored in unshakeable truth.”

—Marv Penner, executive director of All About Youth, head of the Canadian Center for Adolescent Research, and associate staffer at The Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.

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JCYM Cover