The Onward Youth team have compiled a list of 8 recommended reads for Christian youth and the hot topics they face in today’s world. These book titles address the issues of suffering, sexuality and mental health, which will be explored further at Onward Youth conference this June.
Hosted by Katoomba Christian Convention (KCC), Onward Youth exists to equip a new generation of Christians to be salt and light in the world and to engage with controversial themes and societal hot topics from a Christian perspective.
This year’s theme is “God in the Shadows: Finding God When Times Are Tough”. Through talks from the book of Habbakuk and interviews addressing mental illness, sexuality, and isolation, Onward will help teens to find joy and experience God—even when times are tough.
To help our youth think deeper about these topics ahead of the event, the Onward team has compiled a list of recommended reads which can be purchased at The Wandering Bookseller.
1. Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Big questions deserve good answers. This warm, reassuring and fast-paced book looks at what the Bible says to help kids aged 9-13 think through this big question for themselves. It puts the problem of suffering in the context of the Bible's big story, and encourages readers to see that whatever they're facing, Jesus is with them. Lively stories and illustrations make this book easy to engage with.
2. Suffering and Evil
In this short book, Scott Petty guides us through the Old Testament story of Job—a man who suffered excruciating pain and grief without ever knowing why. On the way through, Scott deals with some of the common questions people have about suffering and evil: Why do bad things happen to Christians? Does God cause suffering? Is God in control of suffering and evil?
3. Hope When It Hurts
Suffering is real. But so is hope. Authored by Kristen Wetherell and Sarah Walton, these thirty biblical reflections are full of realism about the hurts of life yet overwhelmingly full of hope about the God who gives life. This book will gently encourage any woman who is hurting and give hope for life both in and beyond suffering. Each chapter contains a biblical reflection, questions, prayers, and a space for journaling.
4. Why Am I Feeling Like This?
In his latest book, counsellor David Murray introduces readers to the personal stories of 18 teens who have dealt with different types of anxiety or depression, and the freedom they experienced through practical steps and tools. This book will not only explain common causes of anxiety, but it will also equip teens with keys to unlock the chains of anxiety and depression. By utilising these God-given truths and tactics, teens will experience new liberty, peace, and joy in their lives.
5. If I Were God, I'd End All the Pain: Struggling with Evil, Suffering and Faith
A child catches a rare brain virus and is affected for life. A father dies in a plane crash. A dictator murders millions. Why doesn't God do something about things like this? Why does he allow them to happen? In fact, can we still believe in God in the face of all the suffering and pain in the world? In this book, John Dickson looks honestly at these questions, and provides some compelling answers. He looks briefly at the alternative explanations for suffering provided by Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Atheism, before turning to what the Bible itself says about God, justice and suffering.
6. Teen Sex by the Book: A Call to Countercultural Living
Authored by renowned sex therapist and educator, Patricia Weerakoon, this book answers questions about teenage sexuality and relationships and explores topics such as sexual desire, falling in love, dating, cybersex, pornography, homosexuality and questions like, ‘How far is too far?’ This book will inform and challenge you to consider who you are and what you stand for, while helping you to discover God’s countercultural lifestyle which leads to healthy sex and satisfying relationships lasting a lifetime.
7. Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With?
Christians are increasingly seen as outdated, restrictive and judgmental when it comes to sex before marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, gender identity, or transgender rights. In fact, for many people, this issue is one of the biggest barriers for them considering Christianity. In this book, Author Sam Allberry (‘Is God Anti-Gay') sets out God’s good design for the expression of human sexuality, showing that God himself is love and that only he can satisfy our deepest desires. It is a great reminder of the Bible’s positive blueprint for love, sex, and marriage and ideal for giving away to people who may see this as a stumbling block for belief.
8. Tricky: The Hardest Questions to Ask about Christianity (and Some Answers)
In this book, Authors Michael Dormandy and Carl Laferton address nine hard questions about Christianity such as: 'Doesn't Jesus ruin your fun?' 'Why is there so much suffering?' and 'Don't Christians hate gay people?' Written for people of all backgrounds and beliefs, this book is short but not simplistic and clear but not condescending. Grab this book if you are struggling with these hard questions or want to learn how to answer them!
These book titles can be purchased from The Wandering Bookseller.
In 2021, we're excited to bring you Onward Youth as an online livestream—and it will be bigger and better than last year! The one-night program will feature practical talks, God-glorifying worship with our friends from Whitefield, real-life personal testimonies, interviews and more.
Tickets are $29 per livestream viewer and includes:
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