Impulse buying recently at a local Christian bookstore, I picked up a copy of Thriving Youth Groups: Secrets for Growing Your Ministry (and further subtitled: "Proven growth strategies that took Jeanne's ministry from 30 teenagers to nearly 1,000") by Jeanne Mayo. It's a small book, only about 140 pages, but it packs a wallop! I have stumbled upon this book just at the time when my youth ministry is in serious need of a "friendliness" upgrade.
So many youth ministry books are long on theory but they just aren't practical or applicable to real-world youth. This book is different. The author provides plenty of theological and sociological under girding, but the bulk of the book is a clear and concise approach to help you make your youth ministry a more welcoming place for teens to be. In particular, Mayo focuses on helping the youth themselves take the lead in creating a climate of welcome and openness within the group. This is a text that you can put to use right away.
I also appreciated the author's wit, her willingness to admit her own trials and tribulations (and failures) in youth ministry, and the inclusion of sidebar comments from other youth workers, sharing strategies they've used to increase the practice of hospitality in their ministry with youth. And the key word here is hospitality. At its heart, the book is not about growing a big youth group. It's about increasing the hospitality, warmth, and Christian fellowship in your group so that other youth might find a spiritual home with you and your teens.
Go here to download a free pdf of the book's appendix: "Small Groups FAQ."