I thought this was an interesting topic over at Doctrine Matters on what would be the most important books to have included in your youth program.
Some of the comments had good suggestions, but here is my list:
Humility, C.J. Mahaney
Isn't this the number problem for all of us? I love the way Mahaney handles this topic. Very practical, especially for high schoolers who are immersed in a culture that values everything contrary to the idea of humility.
Living the Cross-Centered Life, by C.J. Mahaney
No explanation needed really, other than it gives them tracks for run on.
Growing Up Christian, by Graustien and Jacobsen
I didn't grow up Christian, so this covers my gaps in raising my kids. Our high schoolers went through this in Sunday school and I am glad they did.
Don't Waste Your Life, by Piper
For high schoolers, this can springboard into just thinking more deeply about life beyond clothes, cars, and gaining independence. The danger will be not to go too deeply where this book goes, and to make it not be too extreme (i.e. living with a wartime mentality might seem like too much for some people--so there would be a temptation to downplay it when teaching it).
When I Don't Desire God, by Piper
This has a DVD series to go with it now. It deals with what many high schoolers are facing....do they really desire to live for God?
Living by the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible, by Howard Hendricks
Our high schoolers have been going through this, and it is helpful in teaching them to study the Bible. It's accessible, and it's Hendricks. There is also a DVD set to go with it.
The Jesus of Suburbia: Have We Tamed God to Fit our Lifestyle?, by Mike Erre
Don't you love the title? Or does it make you break out into a sweat? I give a caveat on Chapter 6 which is about doctrine and that he does quote Rob Bell (whom I always confuse with Art Bell), but the rest of the book is thought-provoking and challenging. I think it seeks to show a real Christianity that is not about programs and rituals, but of a real relationship with Jesus of the the Scriptures. Mike shows how being a Christian is not just a veneer we wear on Sundays, but permeates our whole being and affects those around us.
A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers, by D.A. Carson
This is a little heavy....I mean talking seriously about prayer to high schoolers? But I think they are capable, and they need to be taught the truth about one of the most neglected of our spiritual disciplines.
Fish Out of Water, by Abby Nye
There are other books on being a Christian in college, but I included this one because it addresses a current snapshot of what a student will face. It is a good way to inoculate a student to uber-liberal professors and hypocritical "Christian" kids who party on the weekends. She gives strategies for facing different situations, as well as encouraging students to take the initiative to share their faith with classmates. My only criticism of the book is that I think Nye sounds a little bitter about her experience and it affects the tone of the book. However, I think this would be good with a small group setting with high schoolers planning on attending either a secular or Christian college.
Church History in Plain Language, by Bruce Shelley
This would give every high school student some "handles" when they walk into a classroom or in everyday life. What has the church gone through for the Gospel or to bring us the Scriptures in everyday language? What have been the major upheavals and personalities? I took a Church History class after I graduated from college, and how I wished I had known it BEFORE I left high school.
The Attributes of God, by Pink
Just the basics.
I think there are other books that would be good as well--this is just off the top of my head. I also think that it would be good to have the best of the best repeated every two or three years. Another genre of books would be missionary biographies, which can be taught even before high school. Our church went through a series of stories of missionaries with the elementary school-aged children. My own kids would come home and tell me what they were learning.
What would you add or subtract? Any good books on missions? Evangelism? Holiness? I've probably missed some good ones...